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Milford Sound in the rain

Date: 20 November 2018

You don’t have to do a lot of research about visiting Milford Sound before you probably come across the bold statement that Milford Sound is even more beautiful in the rain. Wait a minute, how does that work?


When traveling around the world, especially in places with as dramatic and stunning scenery as New Zealand, we often long for fine weather, sunny days, and few clouds. We definitely never wish for rain. However, Milford Sound in Fiordland is likely the exception to the rule.


Receiving over six meters of annual rainfall, to say that Milford Sound is wet is a bit of an understatement. The wettest part of New Zealand is actually a temperate rainforest, full of lush forest, beautiful fjords, stunning lakes and all kinds of incredible nature worth exploring. When the skies cloud up, the mists descend down from the mountains and the moss-covered beech trees drip with rain, it truly feels jurassic here, like you’ve stepped through a portal into another world. With the calls of ancient and endangered birds in the distance, you don’t have to imagine too hard what the New Zealand of the past would have been like when people first arrived here.

So if your forecast for a visit to Milford Sound predicts rain, don’t be perturbed. That’s the standard in this part of New Zealand, and it only promises to make your experience more memorable. Not long after the rains begin to things truly become magical. The powerful permanent waterfalls in Milford will double or triple in size, thundering down dramatically from the towering mountains and glaciers behind them. And if you’re truly lucky, and it’s raining tremendously, then the sharp and dramatic cliffs that surround Milford and make it so picturesque will become covered in hundreds of temporary waterfalls.


Perhaps what makes this so fascinating is not even visible to us above the water, but rather what happens below it in Milford Sound. As all of this rainfall tumbles down from above, it soaks up the tannins from the lush and dense vegetation, coloring it dark. This dark fresh rainwater sits as several meters on the surface of the saltwater of Milford. This dark water layer on the surface then tricks deep-dwelling sea creatures to living much closer to the surface in Milford Sound, like black coral, which is actually white.


So don’t let a wet forecast dampen your spirits if you’re planning to visit Milford Sound. After all, there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes.


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