When Is The Best Time To Visit Fiordland?
Fiordland National Park is 12,500 square kilometres of mountains and native bush that sits on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. It is part of the Wahipounamu World Heritage Site, and is an area of extreme beauty and peace. It is well known to be one of the wettest places on Earth, with some areas receiving up to 7 metres of rain a year, and Milford Sound holds the world record for rainfall at sealevel, with over 9.2 metres that fell in 1988. Snow often closes the road into Milford Sound, and southerly storms can blow in, making their first landfall since leaving Antarctica.
Yet the weather isn't always bad, and a calm sunny day in the small tourist town of Te Anau, with its huge lake (the second biggest in New Zealand), is heaven on Earth. And with a little planning, you should be able to time your trip in the optimum season.
The busiest time of year in Fiordland is summer, from December til March. The temperatures usually hover around 25 degrees C. The sun doesn't set until after 10pm, which gives you enough time to enjoy some of the walks, or visit the Te Anau Glowworm Caves. The weather is settled, but expect some rain. And I once saw snow on Christmas day here, which is unheard of in New Zealand.
Autumn lasts from March until June, and this is an unpredictable time for the climate. Temperatures can go from below 0 degrees C in the morning to 20 degrees C in the afternoon. But it is the time when the trees turn golden, and to see a sunset in this region at this time of year is sheer magic. It is also good that the tourist ventures are still running at a full capacity.
Winter can be dismal. It lasts from June until September, and the temperatures are lucky to get over 9 degrees C. The tourism companies all operate on reduced hours and reduced staff, and snow can lead to roads being closed everywhere. If you are very unlucky, you may be snowed in somewhere without phone reception or anything. Yet it is the best time for skiing, with several world class ski fields opening up in July around Queenstown.
Spring, like Autumn is unpredictable. Yet November is often sunny and warm, with little rain and few crowds. This makes it my favourite time of year to visit the region. The temperature ranges from 15 to 20 degrees C, and the tourist companies are full of fresh recruits who have yet to suffer the fatigue they experience later in the season. It is also a great time for fishing, with the trout season opening in October.
But, on the whole, it doesn't really matter what time of the year you visit. It is a region that is spectacular no matter if it is raining (with it temporary waterfalls), snowing (Milford Sound with a dusting of snow is astounding), or gloriously sunny, It is a region worth visiting. [more]