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Route:

Car park –> Jetty Lookout –> View of Views Lookout –> Reflection Island Lookout –> Car park (Circuit Jaunt)
Total Distance:

4.4 km (2.7 miles)

Total Average Walk Time:

~ 1.5 hours (with plenty of time to take great shots and respites when necessary)
Difficulty:

🙂

Scenery:

🙂 🙂 (at that point of time)

How to get there?

Hiking Highlights and Views

TIPS? And overall experience?

 

How to get there?

A mere 5 minutes drive or so from Fox Glacier Township on Cook Flat Road, and turning right onto Lake Matheson Road will lead you straight to the parking space.

The Matheson Café is located within the vicinity if you want to settle breakfast before the walk. It opens at around 8 am. The prominent signage for this circuit jaunt near the café  marks the start of your odyssey!

Click here for more information about Lake Matheson Café


 

Hiking Highlights and Views

I was pretty much excited for this trek as there are many enrapturing images on Google that captured rad reflection of the mountains on the motionlessly tranquil Lake Matheson. The cerulean blue, alongside the strip of forest green trees just make the entire picture all in a cosmos.

Alas, that wasn’t the view for us to take home that day.

It was quite a cloudy morning to began with. With only a few minutes of intense shaft of sunlight at irregular intervals, those were my only precious opportunities to grasp when taking photos of the landscape.

Through the mini forest

From the starting point, we had to walk pass a bridge over the tannin stream and boulders. It was a much pleasant sight to take in on a morning walk. Calming and breezy, this was a moment that depicted life’s simple pleasures.

I like to take regular glances to the back when I walk. There were many times, when I got awestricken by the vista behind me; and was always glad I did not miss it. With weather that was adept at changing fast and relentless at times, it was quite possible to miss a good view with two snaps of the fingers!

Hence, I was happy to have caught the distant snow capped mountains amidst the fluffy melancholy clouds.

Into the forest we went, the road, though gravelled, was well paved. Kids of all ages could do this walk, easy.

Little information boards about the plant species were found along the way. Nice bite sized facts, made the walk intriguing. It’s really great to learn new things, especially if you are a botany lover!

Reflection Island Lookout

Because it was a circuit jaunt, going either direction would still lead you out the same way. Hence, we decided to take the way which would lead us straight to the Reflection Island Lookout first; and of course, fast- which at that time, we thought would give us the best view.

I reckoned it was the timing we went, the weather, and maybe other variables, the view was… … How should I put it? Hhhmmm… … Not as satisfying? I mean, it was nice, but not as nice as I thought it would be. (Google did set high standards for it, you know.)

It was quite a letdown for us, as we had expected the whole dandy experience. But, nevertheless, we made do with what was presented to us, learnt from it, and made the best out of it! I mean, some pictures were still really cool; having the whole lugubrious vibe and all.

This included the out- of- nowhere appointment of a fury, curled- looking fern to be the ‘face’ of my hair (courtesy of J of course). So yup, now my hair is like a walking mascot for the Ponga tree fern (or until it grows longer, and out of it)! Hhhmmm… Haha! 😀

Endless road

We decided to take a leisure stroll down the Lake Matheson Road. Cow gazing, car watching, breeze inhaling, whatever it was… …It was just imperatively nerve-calming.

The straight endless road with tranquil vista on the sides and ahead, is something we don’t get much of back home. So of course we had to spend time immersing in it all!

 

TIPS? And overall experience?

1. Best views at DAWN and DUSK!

Before we embarked on this Lake Matheson Circuit walk, we did know about the time period to get best views- at Dawn or Dusk. However, we were too shack to get our asses up early in the morning, so that was probably our corollary for being lazy bums. 🙁

Sometimes, a bit of sacrifice is really much needed in exchange for views that amazing- as seen on Google.

So hey, you win some, you lose some right? Win some hours of sleep, lose some nice photos?!

It’s all a learning experience! 😀

2. Breakfast before walk; YES please!

We did not have a meal at Lake Matheson Café, though we did pop by to have a look see at their menu board. The café does provide a peaceful vibe setting with clear distant snow capped mountain views on a good day; that I have to give it to them.

But I would say if you really want to settle breakfast outside your motel, Fox Glacier Township has great delectable varieties! Just my humble opinion anyway. I have never tried the food at the café to judge much, but food in the town could be just as good, and at a slightly cheaper price too. So… yeah…!

I would say the Hobnail Café’s breakfast at the Fox Glacier Guiding doesn’t fall shot either? A hearty breakfast of massive baked potato with stuffing and an American breakfast plate with staples of bread, eggs, sausages, bacon and hash browns to share with your friend would totally fuel you both for a great trek ahead! ‘Cause we all know… …

Sharing food = More varieties = More experience to try new food = Life’s perfect

Furthermore, the view from the glass window at Hobnail Café does paint a flawless view of the majestic snow capped mountains in the near distance! What’s not to love about it all?!

Food at the Cook Saddle Café & Saloon is amazeballs! I can’t say much about its breakfast though, but… …for lunch and dinner, the barbeque pork spare ribs with fries on the side is just finger licking awesome! (Out of topic, but just a little FYI here. Haha!)

3. Moment to relieve oneself? Fret NOT!

The public toilets just further down from the café near the car park are clean. Odourless and all, you can safely have a nice dump before or after your trek! No worries! Haha! 😀

Though we did not get great reflection views as ‘promised’ by Google, due to our laziness, or rather, mine slothfulness, I would totally do this again! Obviously at a different timing, probably near sunrise?

The walk is fairly trivial, so I don’t see why not try this once more and be enraptured by the beauty of the serene Lake Matheson with the distant backdrop of the mountains! I am sure it is going to be jaw- droppingly amazing; as ‘promised’ by Google!

Hope this goads you to get yourself out of bed early to capture some awesomeness, and just be around nature!

So remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

Route:

Round trip:Parking Lot –> Valley –> Glacier –> And Back

Total Distance:

2.6 km (1.6 miles)

Average Walk Time:

~ 2 – 2.5 hours or slightly less

(with plenty of time to take great shots & light snacking)

Difficulty:

🙂

Scenery:

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

How to get there?

Highlights and Views

TIPS?

This was an impromptu trekking trip, and I was, and still very much am, very glad we did it! We had an extra full day at Fox Glacier (because there were some items on our itinerary we were not that much interested in anymore), and being in a very small town, there really wasn’t much we could do. So conferring with Google… … The journey through the valley to the glacier begun! Yay! 😀

I do not honestly know how and why I had totally missed this valley walk during my itinerary research, but this is just one of those walks that are pretty much less strenuous and you get views just as invigorating!

Less energy for greater returns? Say what now? An absolute MUST DO on the South Island of New Zealand!

 

How to get there?

The drive to the start of the Fox Glacier Valley Walk is a fairly easy one, and really straightforward! Just drive down South on Haast Highway from Fox Glacier Township, and immediately turn left before the Fox River bridge. This drive takes roughly 10 minutes.

The left turn will take you straight to a huge parking area, at the end of the road, where the landscape is already melodramatic enough! Surrounded by massive cliffs on each side, it is just so ethereal.

Imagine… … If the parking area welcomes you with such imprinting effect, even before you embark on your trek, what more when you are ON the trek? The view, then, would be imperatively even more wicked!


 

Highlights and Views

Since it was an impromptu trek, we arrived at the place in the afternoon. It wasn’t very crowded then, there were basically less than 10 cars present (including ours)? The weather conditions were to our favour, as indicated on the board at the start of the trek, so we were in great expectation for good views! So let’s spiel… …

The thing about valley walks is that it was something new to me at that time. Usually the treks I embarked on were climbing up hills in the forest, or clambering on the edge of a cliff (back in Tasmania). And typically we were pretty much surrounded by trees, bushes and scrubs half the time; only to have a rewarding view at the summit or at the end.

But valley walks were very much new fresh perspectives; and I LOVE it! Not that I don’t love the other treks I went on, but you get the gist.

WHY?

Valley walks are not convoluted. Out in the open, and not shrouded by the trees, the feeling of frivolousness as the sun rays galvanise everything on the open valley was just speechlessly amazing. The heaps of moraine that were left behind when the glacier retreated in the 60s, glistens under the light. It felt like diamond dusts were lightly smeared on the rocks, and if you would to take notice, they really do twinkle as you saunter towards the glacier end (final section of the track)!

You could see people ahead of you and behind. The glacier end is always in sight, so you could roughly gauge how far off were you. Views were not being impeded, and because it is a valley, due to the recession of the glacier, most gravel grounds were of minimal degree of steepness. It was inconceivable how easy the walk was!

The only time when the route got a little steep, and a tad more strength was required, was when we were getting closer to the glacier end. The gravels were loose underfoot, and with the steeper incline, it could get a little slippery. Good gripping shoes during such times were much appreciated.

I like the idea of how we are really minuscule in comparison to the hillsides encaging us; how massive Mother Nature is, and how the towering sides just energises me.

During the walk, we saw parents (fathers), carrying their precious on their backs as they gaited on. I would like to brood over the fact that these parents were incredibly awesome. If it was me, I would have fumbled, stumbled, and probably rolled down the steep gravel hill, causing damage everyone in my path! Haha!

And to see how stable the dads were, going up and coming back down with ease, just makes me want to applaud for their adept balancing and strength. Haha! 😀

We reached the glacier end viewpoint at about sunset. The close-to-evening breeze just calms your nerves and gives your lungs a refreshing renewal of air. And of course, catching our breaths aside, we took moments to just gawk at the glacier ice and moraine. Such an incredible sight it was!

IMG_0345

On the journey back to the parking area, we saw a bunch of children, their Mum and two other travellers huddled near. The kids were in awe by the Kea who was busy being fed by the travellers. The kids ended up feeding the Kea too, with food provided by the travellers. I don’t remember what they fed the Kea with. Judging from the picture I took, I reckon crackers?

And of course, I had to help the Kea take its selfie since it was looking right at me, right?! Haha! 😀

We also had the opportunity to take a good glance at the early 3/4 moon that rose just above the hillside. And it totally added as a nice backdrop ‘accessory’ in the picture, don’t you think so? 😀

Seeing so many things all packed in an afternoon, and considering it was an imprompt trip, I suppose this was such an eventful bonus day well spent!

 

TIPS?

1

Sunscreen

As this valley walk is an open area with no shade from the, at times, inexorable sunlight, slather on sunscreen you must! Skin peeling as the corollary of your laziness to apply sunscreen can look very unsightly in photos, I know… … Been there. 🙁

2

Check For Track Closure

Another tip, which is the MOST important, is to check if the track is close for the day due to ice collapse, flooding or rock falls before you embark on the trek!

You can do so at the local Department of Conservation (DOC) office at Fox Glacier Township, or at the Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre at Franz Josef Township.

Click for more information on Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre

Fox Glacier Valley Walk is one of the easiest walks for the fairly able- bodies. With dramatic vista right from the beginning, and being greeted by shimmering moraines along the track, you will definitely not return to your motel blasé.

This track, I can safely say with conviction, is a MUST-ADD into your itinerary planning!

So remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee