Welcome Back Rain – Fiordland Goes Back to Normal

“On a Mish” #323 Welcome Back Rain. Glade Wharf. Fiordland National Park. 21.4.2022. For many visitors to the south this summer the weather has been absolutely outstanding. Day after day of epic sunshine, with many days being very hot. The clear skies and warm days have brought a lot of New Zealanders to our little part of paradise for the first time, and it has been humbling to hear so many talk about my little town (Te Anau) with such high regards. There were some quiet times over the last couple of years, but the scenery is still just as impressive, so it will only be a matter of time before the masses of tourists return…

Now as nice as a summer of sun sounds, in a location famous for having a huge lake beside it, rain is rather important. My fascination with weather was ramped up when I began life as a guide in Fiordland many years ago. To watch the rain thunder down is mesmerizing, and you can only get so wet, so just enjoy splashing about in the puddles! The rain has been absent for most of 2022 and this has led to the lake retreating further and further back on itself. The down side to this (literally!) is getting the boats alongside the wharf without beaching them on the lakes edge. Seeing the ground only centimetres away from the boat’s hull was an interesting sight to say the least! It really reinforced how little rain we have had when I heard that Piopiotahi / Milford Sound had recorded its lowest January rainfall ever. Only 60mm (maybe less) fell in a location that usually records more than 600mm a month. The spell of dry weather has meant a lack of all the cool things that come with a good storm. I have always enjoyed watching the clouds interact with the mountains as they build before unleashing their watery rage. It is during this time that there are high chances of seeing a rainbow, and while living in Te Anau I have seen some of the best rainbows of my life (not recently).

Another huge bonus that comes with a good storm in Fiordland is the number of waterfalls that appear on the mountainsides. In a land of little to no topsoil the rain has to go somewhere and usually the water has a mass get together before beginning its airborne journey tumbling over the lip of a cliff in the form of an impressive waterfall. I have really missed seeing this phenomena and when I saw rain in the forecast I still had doubts it would happen as this summer rain had been forecast many times, and many times there was none. With a “Yellow Warning” in place I began my day with the hope that it was going to rain, and luckily this time I wasn’t disappointed. The clouds were swirling around in the morning before heading to work and by the time we had got to the caves it was starting to rain. That day I had one trip to the caves and then in the afternoon I was going to help ferry people to the start of the Milford Track. It was on this journey that I reminded people we were in a ‘Rainforest’ and that we had had very little rain this summer and needed it badly. At first many were not feeling the enthusiasm I was attempting to pass on, but after catching a glimpse of the first waterfall, followed by hundreds more, the party began to warm to the idea of a mission in the rain. The journey back to the Te Anau Down Wharf the rain cleared and the sun returned. At least we knew the rain we had would help fill the lake a little and make parking the boats a little less stressful. It is great to see the rain back and the lake level returning to a semi-normal level, and I hope we can have a little bit more over the next couple of weeks? Just keep remembering when visiting Fiordland (a rainforest!) during times of rain – Being wet is temporary, memories last forever!!

Returning to the Te Anau Downs Wharf with the Sky Clearing

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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