Fiordland National Park – you really DO want it to rain
We know. New Zealand isn’t the only part of the world with Fiords. Norway, Iceland, Alaska, Canada… They all have their fair share of massive U-shaped valleys that are truly spectacular and would compete in a “Fiord-off” competition. Hell – Norway even invented the word – “Fjord”. Translated, it means “Fiord”. We’re a little biased down here in New Zealand, we’ll admit it. We’ll get that out on the table right away and just say it: Our fiords are better than any other fiords, not just because we say so, but because we say so.
Jokes aside – there’s a few things that define Fiordland National Park in the deep south of New Zealand, and do make this World Heritage Area unique, and it has less to do with the shape and size of the various canyons and valleys, and everything to do with New Zealand’s location – and Australia’s.
Sitting down the bottom of the world and across the Tasman Sea from Australia, puts the South Island’s West Coast directly in the firing line of the constant stream of hot air that sweeps across from Australia’s warm interior land mass. As it travels across the Tasman Sea, it picks up its moisture and dumps it in large quantities on New Zealand’s West Coast. The brunt of the precipitation lands squarely in Fiordland National Park.
This combination of steep alpine terrain and warm air and water has created an incredibly unique environment where the tropics married the Alps, and had the best looking children in the natural world. In the space of 30 minutes you’ll drive past snow drifts on the side of the winding road before the Homer Tunnel, and end up deep in the forest of Milford Sound surrounded by lush ferns and mosses and waterfalls thundering from 3000 feet above.
All this because of the rain and hot air from Australia. We win.