Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: closer looks at a Milford Sound waterfall

with 46 comments

Tour boats on Milford Sound get close enough to some of the waterfalls cascading into it for tourists on board to see one or more rainbows in the spray, as we found on February 22nd. In the photo above you can make out a faint second rainbow half-way across the intersection of the land and the sound. When our boat got closer to the waterfall, the main rainbow got brighter and better defined, as shown in the second photo.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 12, 2017 at 4:52 AM

46 Responses

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  1. wow beautiful!


    May 12, 2017 at 6:29 AM

  2. I had to refresh my memory on the nature of a “sound.” I was surprised to see how many there are on the South Island, including one southwest of Milford Sound named “Bligh.” It was named after the ship Governor Bligh, which was named in honor of William Bligh, Governor of New South Wales. One of its arms is known as “Bounty Haven,” which cracks me up.

    I couldn’t help wondering about the sound level around your waterfall. I imagine that much falling water can be heard from some distance. And I’m curious whether a phenomenon discussed on the Atmospheric Optics site might not have shown up in your first photo. The brightest bow on the right looks like a discontinuous bow. Here’s an example. It might not be, but you probably can tell from the larger file.


    May 12, 2017 at 7:32 AM

    • A lot of the southwest coast on the South Island is accessible only by boat, even to this day. Your mention of sounds sent me looking at a map of that region again and I noticed that adjacent to Dusky Sound is Long Island. That’s appropriate for me, who grew up on a different Long Island, which is bordered on the north by Long Island Sound. You may not know that body of water from personal experience, but you may have read about it and a couple of peninsulas jutting out into it in The Great Gatsby: “Twenty miles from the city a pair of enormous eggs, identical in contour and separated only by a courtesy bay, jut out into the most domesticated body of salt water in the Western hemisphere, the great wet barnyard of Long Island Sound. They are not perfect ovals — like the egg in the Columbus story, they are both crushed flat at the contact end — but their physical resemblance must be a source of perpetual confusion to the gulls that fly overhead…”

      That’s a good find about Bligh and the Bounty.

      You may well be right about the discontinuous rainbow. I looked at the original of the photograph and the part of the rainbow nearest the water does seem to have a slightly different orientation from the rest.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 12, 2017 at 7:50 AM

  3. Beautiful, we had mostly rain and clouds, no rainbow. We kayaked there. Even with the rain, it was a grand day.


    May 12, 2017 at 7:45 AM

    • Now that you mention it, at one point in the cruise we saw several kayakers paddling along the margin of the sound. One of the guidebooks I used said that Milford Sound is just as good in cloudy weather as in sunny weather, or maybe even better. The “grand day” you had seems to confirm that, even if you didn’t get a rainbow.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 12, 2017 at 7:55 AM

      • And now I still have the rainbow through your photos! Maybe one of these days I will post mine.


        May 12, 2017 at 8:00 AM

        • And if the vicarious photos still leave something to be desired, you can always go back to Milford Sound and hope for sunny weather. It’s only half-way around the world.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 12, 2017 at 8:05 AM

  4. Hi Steve,
    at first I only wanted to write “WOW”, but then I remembered that I was warned that my current commenting-problems with WordPress could – among others – also be a result of too short comments. Those seem to be a sign of spammers. So I hope now that this comment is long enough not to be considered spam. 😉
    These pictures are really great!
    Have a great day,


    May 12, 2017 at 12:26 PM

    • You’ve hit the sweet spot with this comment, which you can see has survived.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 12, 2017 at 1:22 PM

    • As for the subject of your “WOW,” I’ll add that I’ve never been to any other place that has as many waterfalls as New Zealand. We rarely had to drive for more than a little while without seeing a waterfall or a sign for one.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 12, 2017 at 1:36 PM

      • Now that’s different from dry Texas, isn’t it?


        May 12, 2017 at 1:45 PM

        • It sure is. It also means that a visitor to New Zealand is more likely to encounter rain than a visitor to Texas.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 12, 2017 at 4:17 PM

  5. Truly beautiful Steve!

    • You can understand why Milford Sound is such a popular place to visit.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 12, 2017 at 6:42 PM

      • Oh yes! I’ve heard my family talk about it before. Although they’re mostly based around Napier they’ve lived and travelled all over NZ.

        • Then if you go to New Zealand you could probably stay with your family, just as we started out staying with Eve’s niece.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 12, 2017 at 8:55 PM

          • Oh I would have plenty of places to stay and would be well looked after that’s for sure!! Just got to save enough money for the extortionate airfares 😮

            • Extortionate is a good adjective. That’s how I felt about the cost of gasoline (petrol) there, which is three times what it is in Texas. Think how much we overpaid in driving the 7500 km that we did. The situation may not be much better in the U.K.

              Steve Schwartzman

              May 15, 2017 at 6:09 PM

              • It’s actually worse here at the moment I think!! £1.20 a litre average. Fossil fuels are a finite resource though as well as being horribly polluting! Our government takes a huge amount of tax from what we pay that should go into highway maintenance and environmental issues but probably just pays the wages of think-tank groups reporting to oversight committees reporting to civil servants in the transport department reporting to various oil companies and car manufacturers…..

                • It seems you’re right. I looked up the average petrol price per liter in NZ for the first part of 2017 and found it comes out to the equivalent of about £1.14. By comparison, America is the land of petrol and honey.

                  I suspect you’re also right about where so much of the tax raised on petrol goes, both in the UK and NZ.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  May 15, 2017 at 8:22 PM

                • Of course in the US the oil and motoring industry just pay lots of untraceable backhanders straight to the government bypassing the need to tax the ordinary people so much 😉 The UK is one of the most heavily taxed populations in the world now! Most people pay about half their earnings on income and council tax 😦 Unless you’re rich enough to be able to afford hiring people who will help you avoid paying tax of course!

                • I’m sorry to hear the UK is one of the most heavily taxed countries now. That doesn’t appear to be a new thing, because I remember the Beatles’ song “Taxman” from half a century ago:


                  Steve Schwartzman

                  May 17, 2017 at 6:24 PM

                • Oh yes!! It’s almost the 50th anniversary of Sergeant Pepper. There are quite a few homage gigs happening and I’m working on a rendition of Eleanor Rigby with my dad 🙂 I know it’s off Yellow Submarine but it’s one we’ve both done before! It’s ridiculous that so many nations around the world have got into such deep financial trouble that taxes have to be this high. How are you all feeling about Trump and his recent activity? Reports today said that a special group is being formed to investigate just how much influence Russia had during the campaign!

                • I’ve often observed that those of us who live within our means end up subsidizing, through bailouts and bankruptcy-law provisions, those who have lived beyond their means and gotten into financial trouble. The American government has borrowed so much money that it now owes almost $20,000,000,000,000, and the debt keeps steadily climbing. The current share of that debt per American is about $62,000.

                  Better to photograph nature than think about those things.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  May 18, 2017 at 1:52 PM

                • I might just retreat to nature altogether!! With every nation on the planet being in debt, just who exactly is the money owed to?!?

                • Some is owed to other governments, some to companies, some to people who buy government bonds.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  May 22, 2017 at 7:02 PM

                • But they all owe money! It’s a circle of debt with no way out.

                  On a brighter note, the woodpecker chicks I have been watching are about to fledge 😀

                • Happy woodpeckers to you.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  May 24, 2017 at 8:57 PM

                • It’s been a very happy time spent 😀

                • I was just reminded that “Taxman” and “Eleanor Rigby” originally appeared as the first and second songs on the album “Revolver.”

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  May 18, 2017 at 1:58 PM

                • With another piece of award winning artwork!

  6. Beautiful


    May 12, 2017 at 7:33 PM

  7. I love waterfalls! Never made it to Milford Sound. Looks lovely

    Catherine Johnson

    May 12, 2017 at 9:13 PM

    • If you love waterfalls, New Zealand in general and Milford sound in particular are places that I hope you’ll get to visit.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 12, 2017 at 10:28 PM

      • I lived just south of Auckland for 4 years. Didn’t see many waterfalls though. Aira Force in the Lake District England is nice too.

        Catherine Johnson

        May 15, 2017 at 2:07 PM

        • On our first day there this time, driving north from Auckland to Paihia, we stopped at Whangarei Falls. The next day we visited Rainbow Falls in Kerikeri. On our previous visit we’d stopped at Okere Falls near Rotorua:


          Sorry you didn’t get to see more waterfalls on the North Island. There did seem to be many more on the South Island.

          Thanks for the tip about Aira Force (a name that’s surprisingly similar to Air Force). I looked it up and hope to see it someday. Just two days ago I was saying I’d like to go back to England to see the coutryside rather than just London, as twice before.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 15, 2017 at 2:35 PM

  8. This is a lovely photo of a waterfall and a double rainbow! Makes a very nice grace note to start the day. I have a puppy sleeping on my lap so typing is a challenge!


    May 15, 2017 at 7:11 AM

  9. Wonderful image Steve .. looks like a beautiful day 😃


    May 15, 2017 at 1:28 PM

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