They say it’s the wettest place in New Zealand – with almost 7,000mm of rainfall across 182 days of the year. That means in the course of 24 hours, magical Milford Sound gets as much as 250mm of rain. But that’s a good thing!
In fact, many who ply the Milford Sound route daily will tell you that a rainy day is the perfect day for cruising. Once the sky opens up you’ll notice something amazing – thousands of stunning waterfalls start to form. The granite peaks don’t absorb water and have no shorelines so the water comes cascading down the cliff face straight into the fiord – and it’s simply stunning.
Aside from the instant waterfalls, there are several permanent ones in Milford Sound. And when it rains, it amplifies and intensifies the already strong downward current.
The high level of rainfall in Milford Sound also helps the area thrive. The lush rainforest comes alive in the rain. The combination of sunshine with the high precipitation creates a tropical climate that benefits the flora and fauna of the surrounding national park.
Another benefit of the rain is that it creates the black appearance of the fiord’s waters. Milford Sounds sits on a fiord that is hundreds of metres deep – but the rain creates a fresh layer of water about 6 metres deep. The rain actually stains the fresh water with tannin from the forest, creating the uniquely dark hue.
Working with the Weather
The peak period for rainfall is in the months of December and January. Keep in mind that while it is mostly wet during these months, temperatures can range from a low of 18 degrees to a high of 27 degrees Celsius – which means there’s going to be a lot of humidity. It is best to be prepared for this kind of weather by keeping clothing light, staying hydrated and packing a waterproof layer and maybe even gumboots. In winter, opt for warmer clothing as the temperature drops to 4 degrees. Again, the rains may come so your raincoat should be ready.
So, when you’re planning your Milford Sound cruise and the forecast says rain, don’t let the grey skies and misty views get you down. Milford is actually at its most beautiful in the wet weather.