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