Doubtful Sound

img_1645While in Fiordland we followed a friends’ advice and booked an overnight cruise in Doubtful Sound. Doubtful Sound is much larger but harder to reach than Milford/Piopiotahi and receives thousands less visitors each day.

Our day started in Te Anau with a trip to Punanga Mano o Te Anau/Te Anau Bird Sanctuary. Strolling through the Department of Conservation (DOC) managed preserve we viewed several of New Zealand’s endangered species: takahe, morepork, and kaka, as well as grey and paradise ducks. We joined the tail end of a guided tour and learned that most of these birds are injured or born in captivity and unable to survive in the wild.

greenhooded orchid, wilmot pass
greenhooded orchid, Wilmot Pass

Soon the Real Journeys bus arrived and we began a coach-ferry-coach trip to Doubtful Sound. Three hours later we boarded the Fiordland Navigator. We cruised west to the Tasman Sea, stopping to view waterfalls and fur seals. An ongoing commentary about the local sights and formation of the fiord was provided by an onboard nature guide. In the evening guests were invited to participate in kayaking or tendercraft activities. Then we took a dip in the 17-degree Celsius brackish water. After a full day, a buffet dinner was served at 8:30pm.

We were fortunate for a clear first day because we woke to mist and clouds. But the second day was lucky in a different way. The wildlife came out to see us off: bottlenose dolphins, blue penguins, and gannets.

By 10am we were back at Deep Cove wharf preparing to retrace our travels through Milmot Pass, across Lake Manapouri and onward to Auckland to celebrate New Year’s Eve at home.

Doubtful Sound from Wilmot Pass
Doubtful Sound from Wilmot Pass

Dates: 30-31 December 2016
Travel with: Allen
Weather: sunny & windy first day; wet second day, 60s
Accommodation: Red Tussock Motel, Te Anau & Fiordland Navigator

  • Punanga Mano o Te Anau/Te Anau Bird Sanctuary
  • ferry across Lake Manapouri
  • bus tour through Milmot Pass
  • overnight cruise in Doubtful Sound aboard Fiordland Navigator

Food & Drink:

  • Sandfly Cafe, Te Anau
  • meals provided on Fiordland Navigator
  • Miles better pies & more…, Te Anau
  • Real Journey’s office cafe

Transportation: boats & shuttles provided by Real Journeys; Air NZ from Queenstown to Auckland after the cruise