What will the weather be like?
The unpredictable nature of the weather in this region means that snow, high winds and rain can occur at any time of the year. It is therefore very important to be prepared for the worst weather conditions, and carry the appropriate clothing at all times.
Generally, January and February are warmer, not necessarily drier. In November and December the mountain lilies are just coming out and there is still snow on the surrounding mountains. If you are a keen photographer this would be the time to walk. The month of March is more settled weather wise: fresh mornings, sunny days, cooler nights and the days are getting shorter. Due to the nature of Fiordland we cannot predict any forecast.
Fiordland gets over 9 metres of rain per year, and the weather can change at any moment.
Milford Sound can see anywhere from 400 – 700mm rain per month or up to 9metres per year.
Because of New Zealand's location, situated in what is known as the roaring 40s, we are exposed to a lot of weather systems.
Because Milford Sound is on the West Coast, and is surrounded by mountains, it is the first to get hit with these systems. As they move across the ocean they are generally warm and full of moisture, and when they hit the mountains on the West Coast the warm moist air is forced upwards where it cools and condenses and turns to rain in what is known as orographic rainfall. As the air moves over the mountain it dries out and starts to warm up again.
With the large number of mountains and valleys in the Fiordland area judging how this will affect us can be difficult.
The mountains often slow weather systems down and the valleys can cause wind directions to change. Certain parts of the track can be sheltered from southerly/ northerly winds while other parts will get to experience the full effect of the wind.
This unpredictabilty is the reason we recommend all weather clothing. The guides are trained to respond to strong wind and high levels of rainfall so it's important to follow their instructions in a severe weather event comes up while you are walking.
If you would like to see what the New Zealand Met Service is forecasting for the Fiordland and Mt Aspiring National Parks, you can check their website here