This cross-section of the Southern Alps shows the enormous variation in annual rainfall within a few tens of kilometres. Highest rainfall – over 13 metres (or 7 fathoms) – occurs in a narrow band west of the main divide. The prevailing winds force moist air from the Tasman Sea over the mountains. As the air rises and cools, it drops much of the moisture as rainfall.
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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 (1979): 86