Day 143 on the Road
Cruising on Doubtful Sound
Today we are cruising on Milford Sound’s lesser-known big brother. It’s 3X larger, 3X more epic. If you like this video and want to see more New Zealand bucket list inspiration, head on over to our YouTube Channel.
Today we are getting off the beaten track and seeing that sound not many people know about. It’s Doubtful Sound. Doubtful Sound is so remote we have to drive to take a boat to take a bus to take another boat.
We start our day in the awesome Kiwi Holiday Park right in the city centre of Te Anau and we are jumping in our camper van really early because today we have a long day with Real Journeys going to Doubtful Sound. And it’s gonna be a long journey alright making our way all the way to Doubtful Sound. First up we are jumping on a boat going through Lake Manapouri to reach a bus that is gonna drive us a massive mountain range and then we’re gonna hop on a boat to Doubtful Sound and then the journey finishes by doing all of that on the way back.
It’s going to be a long day but it’s gonna be an awesome one, so we are starting off on Lake Manapouri which is the second deepest lake in New Zealand and 444m we learn loads of facts like that when we get constant commentary by the guides from Real Journeys. We can already feel that we’re going in an absolutely unique place. There are towering mountains, the lake is huge the views are stunning there are waterfalls and as soon as we hop off the boat we can feel that this place has been virtually untouched.
The only sign of civilization around the Doubtful Sound area is this massive road which was built because there is a power station somewhere hidden in the depth of one of those forests, this one was actually the only road in New Zealand which is not connected to the main road network and it was the most expensive road ever built in New Zealand costing over $2 per centimetre.
On our way to Doubtful Sound we take a couple of pit stops so we can take some awesome photos of the beautiful scenery and the awesome viewpoints, but we are quickly distracted by the kea birds.
The cheeky kea parrots is the world’s only alpine parrot and they are only sound right here on the South Island of New Zealand. They’re highly intelligent but very mischievous as they are trying to pull the buses apart taking off the rubber sealings of the windows they’re really hilarious and they seem to be really intrigued by us as we are of them.
The kea birds create a bit of a raucous between all the tourists trying to take pictures of them and the kea birds making noise that sound like about like cats and trying to pull apart the bus while the bus drivers are chasing them away. It’s absolutely hilarious. But this viewpoint pit stop is already over the view was great but the entertainment was even better.
Allan our driver and guide tells us that the next section of our drive is along Wilmot Pass which is a world famous pass because this is the entrance to the UNESCO section of the Fiordland National Park. From there, the national park is protected by New Zealand laws as well as international laws for it’s pristine environment and stunning nature.
As soon as we’re off the bus we are hopping onto the Patea Explorer which is the huge catamaran vessel which is going to take us through the epic Doubtful Sound.
The journey to get here was just a taster but now the real adventure begins we have a three hour cruise through the Doubtful Sound.
We’re starting our journey in Deep Cove which is where we boarded the boat and Deep Cove gets its name because Doubtful Sound itself is actually the deepest sound in New Zealand at over 420m deep. It’s also super long it’s over 40km long and includes three different arms. That’s three times longer than most famous Milford Sound.
On board of the boat we do have a couple of guides which are giving us heaps of commentary and giving us heaps of facts about Doubtful Sound itself they are telling us a ton of interesting stuff including facts that on Doubtful Sound there is actually two types of water. On the surface there is actually fresh water which comes from all the streams feeding into the sound. And below there is the salt water which is the most dense and this help really intriguing eco-system to grow in the sound including black coral.
Because this is a long tour we decide to get ourselves the picnic lunch package getting ourselves some coffee as well and hot chocolate, and this has to be one of the most scenic lunches I have ever had. We’re looking out these huge windows from the dining area that go from the floor to the ceiling and we get these beautiful views of the surrounding fiords. We are stuffing ourselves with sandwiches, grapes, apples, chocolate muesli and whole bunch of stuff before heading back onto the bridge to take some more photos.
The boat has headed down one of the arms of Doubtful Sound which means the waters a lot more placid a lot more tranquil and here it just feels like we’re completely surrounded by untouched wilderness.
This place has been like this for millions of years. In fact because this is such a wild area the captain is switching off the engine and asking everyone to be quiet so we can hear the noises of the native birds around us.
It’s only in complete silence that you can appreciate how grand is Doubtful Sound. there are probably millions of birds calling each other on every single side of those mountains. It’s incredible and being able to hear the complete raucous that those birds are doing is crazy I did not expect this place to be so alive.
There is really heaps of wildlife to be found in Doubtful Sound and our nature guide is telling us all about all of it. We see some Fiordland-crested penguins, we see some seals and yesterday even they get to see some whales but today we are treated to the local pod of bottlenose dolphins and they are clearly here to give us a show.
Right below our boat we can see a whole pod of bottlenose dolphins which are the largest species of dolphins in the world they are really super lively and really communicative we can actually hear them speaking to each other in the water. And the faster the boat goes the more excited they seem to be until eventually they start leaping out of the water right in front of us. It’s so amazing and such an awesome thing to see, we’re taking heaps of photos and getting absolutely splashed by those dolphins.
Sadly, all this excitement is marking the beginning of the end of our tour. Our boat has turned around already and we are making our way back toward Deep Cove. We are obviously doing quite a few extra stops along the way in the different arms of the sound and some places where we can take some amazingly reflective pictures which made Doubtful Sound famous and to our biggest surprise the crew is passing around and giving us some empty cups of water. Their telling us that the water here is so pure you can actually drink from it so they’re maneuvering the boat super close to the waterfall and we’re all reach with our hand trying to fill up our cup with super fresh Fiordland water it gets everybody super pumped and also super wet it’s so fun.
We’ll spare you the journey back but it’s about the same way that we came in. laura and I are so happy about today we feel so privileged to have access such a remote place.
So Laura really wants a picture with the flag flying so I’m trying to help.
Keep going. You nearly got it.