This cross-section shows the wide variation in annual rainfall within a few tens of kilometres on the western side of 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 air rises and cools, it drops much of the 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 (1979): 86