Hiking Lake Matheson
The rain doesn’t stop on the West Coast of New Zealand. It pours and pours and pours. My trip onto the glacier was canceled due to inclement weather. My shoes were still wet. My giant bed in the hostel welcomed me with loving arms. My desire to lay around was very, very high. I thought about walking all the way out to Lake Matheson, but with the previous day’s soaking excursion still in mind, I wussed out and paid an old man a few dollars to drive me there and back.
I was pretty psyched. I’d googled good things about the lake. It was supposed to be super scenic with lovely mountain views and reflections. I could get down with that, even if it wasn’t as cool as glacier trekking. The old man dropped me off at the Lake Matheson Café after I let him know what time I expected to be finished. Breakfast was hours and hours ago so I popped inside the cool, modern building for some lunch. (Side note: the Lake Matheson Café was probably my most favorite place to eat in Fox Glacier. The menu was interesting with entrees that I hadn’t seen on any New Zealand menus before. The space was lovely, quiet and spacious, and the view was pretty spectacular.)
After lunch, I headed out onto the trail, ready to hang out with some mountains, even if it was just from afar. I was wrong, so very, very wrong. Not really sure what I was thinking? The sky was still very overcast. Heavy fog swirled around the lake and fields. It was a scene straight out of “The Mist”. I considered calling it quits and turning around, but I had all day to kill. I didn’t come to New Zealand to sit in a hostel and surf the web. Onwards it was.
The forest was incredibly lush and green from all the rain. Everywhere I looked, there were trickles of water, little streams; it was a magical enchanted forest. The 2.6km trail loops leisurely along the lake and is paved the entire way. It’s very, very family friendly, with a wheelchair accessible portion up to the jetty. There are several viewpoints along the way, but most of them were closed for construction when I was there.
Despite being one of the most popular destinations in Westland Tai Poutini National Park, I encountered few people on a rainy day at the beginning of the spring season. If you’ve got a few hours to kill and no transportation around Fox Glacier, check out Lake Matheson to avoid being lazy in your hostel! And grab some tasty lunch while you’re at it.