Saturday, 17 March 2012

Lake Matheson

Mounts Tasman and Cook from Lake Matheson car park 
We arrived in Fox Glacier last night and stayed at the Sunset Motel. It promised views of Aoraki / Mount Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain at 3754m, and Mount Tasman, 3497m. Unfortunately, it was wet and cloudy and there was just a suggestion of Mount Cook visible in the murk.

In typical New Zealand style however the morning dawned bright and clear and I took this picture of Mount Cook from the garden at the back of the room.

So now it was a case of hurrying down to nearby Lake Matheson to see if we could get one of the famous mirror image photos of the mountains in the water of the lake. We were a little slow off the mark and cloud had already began to form by the time we parked the car, as the photo at the head of this post shows. The sun had risen above the mountain rim and so any photography was into it.

We followed a winding path through heavy bush to arrive about 30 minutes later at a viewing platform at one side of the lake. It was by now even more cloudy and the surface was ruffled by wind and the movement of the ducks. This was the best I could do.

Most people had come to the platform, taken a few photos and gone back, but we decided to at least complete the circuit of the lake and were delighted after another 20 minutes or so to reach another viewing point, with a much higher perspective. It was identified as the View of Views, and was well-named. Although conditions were still not ideal, a pretty decent picture resulted. Mount Cook is on the right.

As we completed our circuit there was a nice view, in the direction opposite to the mountains, of the rush-lined lake margins. The DOC has the policy of allowing natural processes to have their head and is doing nothing to stop the encroachment plants at the lake margins. We were not quite sure whether that was really right: it could be argued that the lake's character should be preserved.

And a bit later it was possible to see through the vegetation to the first viewing platform, with a new consignment of picture takers hard at work.

As we completed the walk we heard a lovely fluid birdsong that we had heard before on our walks, but this time we caught a good view of the bird. It was the well-named Bellbird.

Conditions: Cloudy, cool.

Distance: about 3 miles.

Rating: Four stars.

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