The region has long been a special place for Maori, and is a traditional mahinga kai (food gathering place).
Tourist visits to Lake Matheson started in the 1950s. It was a popular early morning excursion for guests from the nearby Fox Hotel. The walk began from the same place as the trails commence today, but conditions were slightly more treacherous without the current bridges.
After a 15-minute walk through the bush, visitors would arrive at a small beach where a rowboat was moored. After a short paddle, visitors would arrive at Reflection Island, and wait for the ripples to disperse and the famous mountain reflections to appear.
Lake Matheson is one of the most iconic ‘postcard’ scenes in New Zealand, and has long featured on chocolate boxes, beer bottles, calendars and even the 1946 New Zealand Peace Stamp.
History Matheson Café
Established in 2004 and moving through several developmental stages, Matheson Café at Lake Matheson has created a unique, warm and welcoming environment where the emphasis is on the best quality food and coffee, with carefully selected wines and the finest produce sourced from local sources. Being recipients of the NZ Beef and Lamb Hallmark of Excellence Award is a testament to this. We continuously earned this award since 2009, 10 years in a row.
Having lived in Fox Glacier since 1997, we understand the quality produce that this fine part of the country offers. Why would you go elsewhere when you have paradise on your doorstep?
In 2008, we developed a larger café and dining facility, which now has seating for over 100 people with its own unique atmosphere and ambience. An expansive deck provides views of the surrounding mountains and is the perfect place to enjoy the sun and drift the afternoon away.
ReflectioNZ Gifts and Gallery
This development also included the establishment of ReflectioNZ Gifts and Gallery store, which now boasts some of the best souvenirs, giftware, clothing and designer wares available in New Zealand. We handpick our products and always try to have a variety of products for every taste … and all at great prices.
The glacier is known by local Māori as Te Moeka o Tuawe ('The bed of Tuawe'). According to oral tradition, Hine Hukatere loved climbing in the mountains and persuaded her lover Tuawe to climb with her. Tuawe was a less experienced climber than Hine Hukatere but loved to accompany her, until an avalanche swept him from the peaks to his death. Hine Hukatere was broken-hearted and her many, many tears flowed down the mountain. Rangi the Sky Father took pity on her and froze them to form the glacier now known as Franz Josef; the glacier now known as Fox marks Tuawe's resting place.
How The Mountains Were Formed.
According to the Māori myth, Aoraki and his three brothers were on a journey around Papatūānuku (the Earth Mother) when their canoe became stranded on a reef and toppled. The four of them climbed onto the top of the canoe but the cold south wind froze them and turned them into stone. Their canoe became Te Waka o Aoraki - New Zealand's South Island - and Aoraki, the tallest of the three, became the highest mountain of the Southern Alps: Mount Cook/Aoraki, which reaches 3,754m into the sky.
Vision For The Area
Grow into a sustainable visitor destination underpinned by natural attractions that can be experienced by all ages in all weather.
Matheson Cafe to work towards being carbon zero. This is very hard, but we will be looking at options for visitors to partake in restoring natural environments, with things like buying a coffee and planting a native tree to help offset your holiday emissions. We will continue work with project early bird and the Department of Conservation to reduce predators and protect the kiwis which have been released into the area. Hopefully, you will be able to sit on our deck and have dinner while listening to the Kiwi calling each other.