The Southern Alps is a mountain range which runs along the western side of the South Island of New Zealand. It forms a natural dividing range along the entire length of the South Island. The term "Southern Alps" generally refers to the entire range, although separate names are given to many of the smaller ranges that form part of it.
Aoraki/Mount Cook is the highest point, 3754 metres (12,283 feet). There are 16 other points in the range that are over 3000 metres in height. A large proportion of the range is protected as part of various national parks, notably the Westland National Park, Mount Aspiring National Park, and Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park.
The Southern Alps were named by Captain Cook in 1770, who described their 'prodigious height'. The had previously been noted by Abel Tasman in 1642, who described the South Island's west coast as 'a land uplifted high'.
Geologically, the Southern Alps lie along a plate boundary, part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. The mountains that form the Alps continue to grow as a function of tectonic pressure, but are eroded at approximately the same rate.
Because of its orientation perpendicular to the prevailing westerly winds, the range creates excellent wave soaring conditions for glider pilots. The town of Omarama, in the lee of the mountains, has gained an international reputation for its gliding conditions. The prevailing westerlies also create a weather pattern known as the Nor'west arch, in which moist air is pushed up over the mountains, forming an arch of cloud in an otherwise blue sky.
This weather pattern is frequently visible in summer across Canterbury and North Otago. The 'Nor'wester' is a föhn wind similar to the Chinook of Canada, where mountain ranges in the path of prevailing moisture laden winds force air upwards, thus cooling the air and condensing the moisture to rain, producing hot dry winds in the descending air lee of the mountains.
From Wikiepdia, the Free Encyclopedia
NEW ZEALAND HOTELS AND ACCOMMODATION
NEW ZEALAND TOURS AND TRAVEL
NEW ZEALAND •
OF INTEREST •
South Island •
SEE ALSO FOR SOUTH ISLAND:|
• PLACES TO STAY:
Fox Glacier Hotels,
Franz Josef Hotels,
Te Anau Hotels,
• TOURS & TRAVEL:
Franz Josef Tours,
Mount Cook Tours,
Te Anau Tours,
• ATTRACTIONS, CULTURE & MORE:
Southern Alps from a glider, New Zealand