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New Zealand is home to some of the most beautiful and unspoiled landscapes on the planet and nowhere is that more evident than amongst the towering mountains and deep waters of Southland's largest, most remote fiord. In any weather a visit to Milford Sound is an unforgettable experience, but in winter this rugged and scenic wilderness reveals spectacular moods and unbelievable sights. Stand in awe of the earth shaping forces at work amid an epic rainstorm or gaze into enchanting reflections of snow capped peaks, lush forests and soaring vertical cliffs on the clear, crisp days that only winter can bring.
A winter wonderland
At the end of the last ice age, a great glacier receded and the endless Tasman Sea flooded into the expansive, deep fiord of Milford Sound to take its place. Today, these titanic, unyielding forces are still at play and from June to August winter sets the stage for breathtaking performances. During torrential Fiordland rain the vast landscape sheds massive volumes of rainwater, scouring the mountain sides in great flowing ribbons that plummet from imposing cliff tops to the ocean below. Rain falls as snow at higher altitudes, painting the mountain tops in a beautiful coat of white. In stark contrast to the wet and wild, there are also days of mesmerising calm and glassy-flat waters and blue skies yield soul-nourishing tranquillity and brilliant colours.
Fiordland's climate - Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde
You could easily be forgiven for assuming that fine, sunny weather is a prerequisite for any visit to a World Heritage Site. However, Milford Sound is unique, and extreme weather defines the geography of the area. Situated in the famous latitude known as 'the roaring forties', a continuous westerly air stream delivers this Pandora's box of wildly changeable weather. And it really can be wild. This part of the South Island has some of the highest rainfall statistics in the world with a staggering 7 metre average and roughly 200 wet days per year, adding to the drama of the landscape. If not the weather, one thing here is certain - come rain or shine, prepare for an unforgettable spectacle.
Great sights of the sound
The contrasting weather conditions of winter reveal the great sights of Fiordland at their scenic best. In addition to the added grandeur, winter visitors are privileged to elude the crowds and have the unique sights all to themselves. Magnificent Mitre Peak rises 1,692 metres from the deep waters of the Sound and, in the colder months, white snow contrasts spectacularly with the lush, rain-fed forests. The majestic Bowen Falls displays maximum vibrancy in full winter flow - dumping an endless veil of water 160 metres into the sea. In heavy rain the whole fiord is flooded by hundreds of temporary waterfalls, often unseen by sun chasing summer visitors. Wildlife thrives in the pristine waters and guests are delighted to enjoy pods of playful dolphins and basking seals without the hustle and bustle of peak tourism activity. To truly explore the wonders up close and for the best way to access the hidden magic of Milford Sound in winter, be sure to take to take a scenic boat cruise. Photograph the rare wildlife without boats in the background and feel the wind-blown spray of the thundering waterfalls against your skin. Round off your adventure by staying in the scenic and comfortable accommodation on offer and take away memories you will never forget.
To glimpse the wonders of this great world heritage site in all its winter glory, relax for a night or two at Milford Sound Lodge. Our friendly staff can help you to make the most of this special place during the winter months. Visit our website here, or contact us directly.