West Coast

Don’t for­get your cam­era when you visit the West Coast’s Lake Mathe­son.

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D riv­ing up the West Coast felt like en­ter­ing a time-warp back into pre­his­toric times. With snow­capped moun­tains and dense bush as far as the eye can see, you can un­der­stand why Peter Jack­son used the South Is­land of New Zealand for film­ing large parts of the Lord of the Rings Tril­ogy. Af­ter trav­el­ling through the misty bush for what seemed an eter­nity, we fi­nally heard the sooth­ing sounds of the ocean. Just up the coast was a beau­ti­ful wee sandy bay cov­ered in white stones. On closer in­spec­tion, you can see why Bruce’s Bay was voted one of the top-ten bays in New Zealand. Trav­ellers from all over the world have left their own spe­cial, in­spir­ing mes­sages on the stones and I de­cided to leave a few of my own. All the while, I imag­ined my­self re­turn­ing years later to leave my next chap­ter. Un­der an hour up the road, I en­tered the world fa­mous Fox Glacier town­ship. Af­ter pulling into our ho­tel and drop­ping off our bags, we asked the re­cep­tion­ist what would be a nice re­lax­ing ac­tiv­ity to help us wind down af­ter our long drive. We were told, quite adamantly, that we must go for a walk around Lake Mathe­son. We de­cided to trust her judge­ment. Lake Mathe­son was formed from the re­treat­ing glacier and is one of the hid­den gems of New Zealand. The gen­tle walk through the an­cient na­tive for­est, hug­ging onto the side of the lake, takes roughly one hour. It was the perfect end to the day as it wasn’t overly stren­u­ous due to min­i­mal el­e­va­tion in the path. Near the end of the loop path, just be­fore turn­ing back, you reach a point which is what makes this place so spe­cial. Now I un­der­stood why the re­cep­tion­ist was so adamant about us un­der­tak­ing the walk. Sit­ting on a bench at the end of the lake truly is picture-perfect scenery. Look­ing out over the lake, with the snow-capped moun­tains a near perfect mir­ror im­age in the lake, my girl­friend and I felt like we were

look­ing at a post­card. With no other tourists around, we stayed on the bench and watched the last rays of sun glis­ten off the moun­tain tops. This was the perfect end to the day trav­el­ling, and if this can’t melt your stresses away, then I don’t know what could. The walk back was rather cold due to the lack of sun­shine, but it was def­i­nitely worth it. When you get to the end of the path you will find the per­fectly po­si­tioned Lake Mathe­son Cafe. Af­ter a cof­fee to warm us up, and a cheeky wee cake (which was de­li­cious), we de­cided to have a look around the art-gallery, be­fore head­ing back to the ho­tel to thank the re­cep­tion­ist for her well-in­formed ad­vice. Make sure to add this to your trip through the West Coast, and re­mem­ber to bring your cam­era: it’s the most pho­tographed lake in New Zealand!

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