Doubtful Sound

Doubtful Sound

Doubtful Sound is another one of the 14 fjords in Fjordland National Park. Unlike Milford Sound, Doubtful is less accessible. To get there visitors must get to Manipouri, a 30-minute drive from Te Anau, take the 55-minute transfer boat to get across Manipouri Lake to the Wilmont Pass, then take a 30-minute bus ride to Deep Cove to board the cruise.

A beautiful rainbow appeared as we were crossing Lake Manipouri.

All this inconvenience equals to a lot less crowd, and a much different experience touring the fjords. What made our cruise even more special was that 60% of the passengers belonged to a tour group of subdued elderly in their 70-80s. Which meant the rest of the 20 independent travelers had the run of the boat.

The first day of our sailing was on a rainy day with choppy waves as we approached the Tasman Sea.

New Zealand fur seals on Nee Islets. Unfortunately, that was the farthest we could venture out to sea as some of the tour group folks were getting sea sick.

Since then, the elders either stayed in their cabins or in the safety of the main dining room. While the rest of us were braving the wind and rain on the outer decks getting our money’s worth.

Contrasting the first and second day of the cruise

On the other hand, the tour group booked up all the private cabins with en-suite bathrooms, which left the rest of us in family-share rooms with shared bathrooms.

Curtains for privacy
Our room
I had been so worried that we’d have to share the room with others, but each room is meant for people traveling in the same group.
Shared bathroom was clean

Most importantly, everyone in the shared area was very respectful. No party animals or loud talkers.

As part of the tour, the cruise schedules water activities such as kayaks and tender boats to get closer to the fjords, rain or shine. On a sunny calm day, I would have picked kayaking. Unfortunately, this was not the day. To our surprise we were the only ones in the tender boat, while the rest of the younger folks picked kayaking.

See those waves? Yep, 3 kayakers flipped over in those waves, and went for an involuntary swim in the frigid waters. Sometimes with age comes wisdom. At the same time, misery makes memories. I’ll bet those 3 kayakers will never forget this trip.

After all the drama and dinner, the skipper anchored the boat at Precipice Cove for the night. The next day, we woke up to completely different conditions – sunshine and calm waters.

The boat cruised down Hall Arm, and at the end of the arm, everyone was told to put away their electronic devices and to stay absolutely still, while the skipper turned off the engine to let us experience the “sound of silence”. Slowly, bird songs started to fill the void, and it was just them and the waterfalls.

2 thoughts on “Doubtful Sound

  1. Yeah I think we would have passed on the kayaking too in those conditions. Great last shot by the way. When we shared our sleeper compartment on the night train in Vietnam, two young German girls shared with us. They were clearly worried about sharing – their faces looked so, so relieved when they realised they were sharing with an older, harmless couple!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When you’re young, your risk/benefit calculation is a bit different than when you’re older. There’s a little FOMO (fear of missing out) component in the younger cohort. For us, survival is first and foremost 😆 Sharing cabins/compartments is always a luck of the draw, that’s why I avoid it as much as possible.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s