Birds of Doubtful Sound

As someone who loves puns, even if they are the “lowest form of humor” (as stated by my AP English teach among many), there’s far too many options to play with for a blog post this long in coming, about a place called Doubtful Sound. So I’ll try not to go there.

Actually, this post is of perhaps the most amazing days of our three and a half month trip. After much agonizing, numerous readings of Trip Advisor forum posts, and flipping among provider sites, I decided ultimately to do an overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound rather than Milford Sound. Probably because I’d read there were fewer people in Doubtful. And that while Milford is reported to have more striking waterfalls and dramatic scenery, the overall experience of awe was more profound in Doubtful. Next choice was between a boat with about 70 people, and very good reviews. Or another company with a maximum capacity of 12 voyagers. And good reviews, though far fewer.

So I made a reservation with Deep Cove Charters. If only all travel plans and choices could be so good. The company is small, run by wife and husband Diane and Chris. Diane handled all communications and planning promptly and professionally. Chris was our captain and his knowledge of and love for the area could not have been stronger. His combination of enthusiasm, wonder, skill and experience made our voyage an amazing one.

A few specifics. Our cruise started with a boat trip across Lake Manapouri, leaving from the very small town of the same name. We debated whether to stay the night before in Te Anau, larger town with more restaurants and hotels, or in Manapouri itself. We ultimately chose Te Anau, which seemed a good choice. It’s a quick drive between the two and Te Anau certainly had more options for dinner, breakfast, etc.

The first leg of the cruise was with another tour group, but once across the lake, our travels were with Deep Cove exclusively. Chris met us and took us by van up and over Wilmot Pass and to Deep Cove where we boarded the Seafinn. The boat was built in 2008 specifically for Deep Cove and can carry up to 12 passengers (6 cabins). We were nine passengers. We were fortunate to have five locals, including a former rancher with fabulous stories and two people who worked for another company that does tours on Doubtful and Milford Sound and were very knowledgeable and great at spotting wildlife.

Doubtful Sound is actually a fjord, though we never heard it referred to as such. Sound or fjord, it’s a stunning, large, sparsely visited highlight of the thoroughly amazing Fjordland National Park. We cruised from Deep Cove out to the Tasman Sea. The exact route is lost to me, but the entire journey was beautiful.

What speaks most of this piece of our travels is the pictures, so with limited further commentary, here’s a glimpse of the southern-most point of our trip.

Birds eye view of Doubtful Sound (really a fjord)