Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise

Published: February 14, 2015

You’re no doubt realising as you read our articles that we prioritise wherever possible travel experiences that take you off the beaten track. We have cruised the Milford Sound several times and along with the Milford Road we really enjoyed the experience but we were still left wanting to explore Doubtful Sound which is not as well-known as the Milford Sound and is a harder fiord to access.

Doubtful Sound is 10 times longer and 3 times wider than the Milford Sound to give you an idea of its huge scale. For this very reason we have a useful suggestion- if you want to do a day cruise do the Milford as the Doubtful is too big to do in a day, however if you’ve got time for an overnight cruise the Doubtful is the one to pick for a truly magical experience.

The overnight cruise departs from Pearl Harbour on Lake Manapouri, make sure to wrap up warm this isn’t the tropical Pearl Harbour you’ve heard of! We crossed the lake first of all and on the other side we hopped on the bus that would take us over Wilmot Pass. The option of visiting the power station isn’t really essential unless you’re particularly interested. As we arrived at the top of the pass we were astonished at the fabulous view down over the majority of the sound.

On arriving at the dock we were shown to our rooms and after an hour of sailing the boat anchored up so we could take part in some aquatic activities. On offer was kayaking, fishing or for the most daring a dip in the cold waters of the fiord, you need to be really keen to pick the latter. Meanwhile the crew pulled up their crayfish pots to check for any potential catch that would be served up at dinner.

Before dinnertime we headed to a fur seal colony before navigating a little further out into the Tasman Sea, the roughness of the waves was in stark contrast to the absolute calm that reigns in the fiord. Dinner was delicious, the sunset was a marvellous sight to see and at night was peace reigned once the motors were shut off.

The next day after breakfast everyone found an ideal spot to surprise a pod of dolphins, a shy crested penguin or more rarely a whale. Another option for exploring the fiord is on an overnight kayaking trip, it’s a more intimate option but it’s also a more challenging one. 

In conclusion, don’t hesitate to visit Doubtful Sound, you won’t regret it!

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