Lake matheson guide
==the cj way++
The CJ way Guide to Lake Matheson
AT A GLANCE
Lake providing the iconic mirror reflections of Aoraki/Mt Cook
Fox Glacier, West Coast
25-35 mins walk from parking
Best time to visit: sunset
Jandals suitable (but you might prefer sneakers)
WHERE IS THIS EXACTLY?
Coordinates of Reflection Island Viewpoint (where we took our photo) -43.437859, 169.963044
Coordinates of parking: -43.448473, 169.969901
Our favourite viewpoint is Reflection Island. Since the Lake Matheson track is a loop, the quickest way to access reflection island is to follow the lake track, then take a right at the fork and follow this for a total of 25 minutes (from carpark) until you reach the viewing station. Please note, this part of the track was closed on our last visit (January 2020) so we had to walk around the long way (which was about 30-35 minutes from the carpark).
best time to visit?
Sunrise or sunset on a clear day (when Aoraki/Mt Cook is visible).
You also want a day that's not too windy, we have never had to worry about wind, but bear this in mind!
One out of four times we have visited, Aoraki/Mt Cook was hidden behind cloud and/or fog.
cj travel tips
You can see Aoraki/Mt Cook from the carpark so you’ll know whether it will be visible from the viewpoint before you start the walk! Unless you're like us, and desperately clinging on to some weird hope that it will 'have cleared by the time I get there'. You never know, it might.
Arrive early as the viewing deck is quite small and can get very busy - particularly at sunrise and sunset. At sunset (January 2020) there were approx. 12 people there and at sunrise (January 2020) there were eight. Doesn't sound like many, but given the space it can feel pretty crowded pretty quickly.
Sunset is generally the safest bet as the lake is often fully shrouded in fog in the early mornings. Oh nice use of the word shrouded there Jim!
cj photography tips
You will need a zoom lens to ensure the mountains are prominent in your photo.
Take some over-exposed shots in case you want to bring out some of the shadow details in the trees.
We personally think the furtherest point on the viewing deck provides the best shot (not a huge difference, but from all our visits we have tried and tested a few different angles!).
what we found useful to pack
In addition to the usuals (camera gear, suitable clothing, water and food, first aid, etc. we found the following items useful for Lake Matheson:
Picnic blanket or rug to sit down and admire the wonderful view (plus the wooden deck gets pretty wet)
Insect repellent. haha. But it's not funny. Pack it.