Lake Matheson

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Lake Matheson
Lake Matheson (New Zealand) just after the sunset.jpg
Lake Matheson just after the sunset
LocationSouth Westland, South Island
Coordinates43°26′22″S 169°57′52″E / 43.43944°S 169.96444°E / -43.43944; 169.96444Coordinates: 43°26′22″S 169°57′52″E / 43.43944°S 169.96444°E / -43.43944; 169.96444
Primary outflowsClearwater River
Basin countriesNew Zealand

Lake Matheson is a small lake in South Westland, New Zealand, near the township of Fox Glacier. It is famous for its reflected views of Aoraki/Mount Cook and Mount Tasman, and is a traditional mahinga kai (food gathering place) for Māori people, the lake contains as well as being home to many water birds.


Lake Matheson was formed by the moraine left by the retreat of Fox Glacier / Te Moeka o Tuawe approximately 14,000 years ago. It is situated on the valley floor about 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) from the current terminus of the glacier and the Southern Alps.

The lake and its small catchment is surrounded primarily by native podocarp forest, including Kahikatea and Rimu trees. Tannins from the forest colour the water a dark brown, which limits visibility and aids in the quality of reflections on the lake.[1]


Lake Matheson has traditionally been known as a mahinga kai (food gathering place) for Māori people in the area, who would frequent the lake to catch long finned eel or water birds. Since European settlement and the rise of tourism in the 20th century, the lake has become renowned as a tourism destination for its reflections of the Southern Alps, including New Zealand's highest peaks of Aoraki/Mount Cook and Mount Tasman. The lake was offered as an early morning excursion by the nearby Fox Hotel, and has since become an iconic image used on souvenirs and to represent the West Coast of New Zealand.[2]

The area around the lake is managed by the Department of Conservation (DOC) as part Westland Tai Poutini National Park, who maintain a variety of walking tracks around the lake and access to popular viewing lookouts. [1]



  1. ^ a b "Lake Matheson / Te Ara Kairaumati Walk".
  2. ^ "Lake Matheson - Lake in New Zealand - Thousand Wonders". Retrieved 18 January 2020.

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