This cross-section shows the enormous variation in annual rainfall across the Southern Alps. The highest rainfall – over 10 metres – occurs in a narrow band where the prevailing westerly winds force moist air from the Tasman Sea over the mountains. As the damp air rises it cools, and drops most of its moisture as rain.
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Graphic by Trevor Chinn
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Source: Trevor Chinn, ‘How wet is the wettest of the wet West Coast?’ New Zealand Alpine Journal 32 (1978): 86