Doubtful Sound

Doubtful Sound is a fjord in Fiordland, New Zealand, named Doubtful by captain Cook who doubted he could sail in it. Of course, all of that and more can be read on Wikipedia so I’m not going to repeat it here.  I’ll just say what I did while there.

In order to get some luxury for a change, or at least luxury compared to staying in hostels, I went on an overnight cruise. This meant that in the morning I was picked up at my hostel by a bus taking me to Lake Manapouri. We were then transferred across Lake Manapouri on a boat going all the way to the power station there. Apparently, I didn’t know this before, Lake Te Anau, Lake Manapouri and Doubtful Sound are all connected to work as a hydro power plant, but one that is  ecologically friendly (read: the lakes weren’t raised but have to stay within their natural limits).

View along the way to Doubtful Sonud

Anyway, from there it was yet another bus ride, along some pretty awesome views and some really steep declines where the bus went really slow in order not to have anything happen.

But in the end, we arrived at the wharf where we were met by the ship that would be our home for the next 24 hours. So, after all the mandatory safety briefings and being pointed to our cabins (a small room I had to share with three others), we could have a look around while we were sailing through Doubtful Sound. I have to admit, it’s pretty impressive to see all of these mountains just rise out of the sea. In places it was pretty much a wall that went straight up into the air.

After doing this for a couple of hours, we ended up in one of the arms of the fjord where the water activities were to take place. There was the choice to go kayaking, or be carried along in a motorboat. Anyway, the kayaking was fun, even though I didn’t have any real experience with it so I didn’t go very fast. Of course, I wasn’t the slowest person either but at times it was a bit frustrating to see so many people passing me by. Anyway, it was fun, and gave a good opportunity to get close to everything.

Mountains rising from the sea

After the kayaking, there was an option to go swimming. Well, basically it was diving off the ship into the cold water. Or not very warm water actually. Despite the fact that the top couple of meters of the fjord are actually fresh water, straight from the mountains that get over 7 meters of rain a year, it was warmer than the water around Stewart Island had been.

Still, it wasn’t sunny as it had been there, so a hot shower was very welcome afterwards. Unfortunately, as my normal pants had gotten wet during the kayaking (silly mistake for not wearing my swimming gear than as well), I spent the rest of the day walking around in my swimming pants. That wasn’t too bad though, they dried up fairly quickly.

After all this entertainment though we went in the direction of the sea, where we had the chance to once again spot some fur seals and yellow-crested penguins. It’s always fun to see those, so that was cool. It was also immediately noticeable that the sea was a lot wilder than the fjord itself. But not too wild to go slightly in there luckily.

There isn’t all that much else to tell about that first day though. We had a very nice dinner (buffet), and after that the nature guide, who had already given a lot of information all day, gave a presentation about the nature there. In the meantime the ship had moved to yet another arm of the fjord where we moored for the night.

More mountains and waterfalls

The next day was really wet though. It had started raining in the evening, and at one point I heard that there had been about 120 mm of rain in the past 24 hours, which meant that all the waterfalls were going to be even more impressive on the way back. After an early breakfast (7 am) we were underway again back to the start of Doubtful Sound. We did have a short extra stop though in one of the arms where we did a so-called “Sound of Silence” thing. This was basically that no sounds were made (even the ship’s engines were turned off) and we could all enjoy the sound of the waterfalls around us there.

All in all, I have to say it was really nice and impressive to go through Doubtful Sound. Below are some more of the pictures I took there, not all 243 though.