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Monday, August 27, 2007

Milford Sound, New Zealand

Milford Sound, also known as Piopiotahi in Maori, is located in the south west of New Zealand's South Island. Although called Milford Sound, it is more accurately classified as a fjord. Milford Sound, the most famous tourist site of New Zealand, is situated within the Fiordland National Park which is in turn part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site. The Maori name for the sound, Piopiotahi, means first native thrush.
Milford Sound runs 15 kilometres inland from the Tasman Sea and is surrounded by sheer rock faces that rise 1200 metres or more on either side. Lush rain forests cling precariously to these cliffs, while seals, penguins, and dolphins frequent the waters.
With a mean annual rainfall of 6813 mm on 182 days a year, a high level even for the West Coast, Milford Sound is known as the wettest place in New Zealand and one of the wettest in the world. Rainfall can reach 250 mm during a span of 24 hours. The rainfall creates dozens of temporary waterfalls (as well as a number of major, more permanent ones) cascading down the cliff faces, some reaching a thousand meters in length. Smaller falls from such heights may never reach the bottom of the sound, drifting away in the wind.
Accumulated rainwater can at times cause portions of the rain forest to lose their grip on the sheer cliff faces, resulting in tree avalanches into the Sound. The regrowth of the rain forest after these avalanches can be seen in several locations along the Sound..... (more on www.wikipedia.com)


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