CRUISING DOUBTFUL SOUND
As with all of New Zealand’s fiords, Doubtful Sound is a masterpiece of nature. The only way to reach it is by boat, crossing Lake Manapouri, so of the three Sounds (Dusky and Milford being the other two), Doubtful is the least touristy. Thus those who are lucky enough to experience Doubtful Sound deserve it.
Because of the Sound’s inaccessibility, you’ll encounter very few people as you float through the silent waterways. Animals, however, are a different matter. Because of the lack of human interaction, Mother Nature has been given free rein here. The dense forest is rife with wildlife and birdsong is a constant soundtrack (otherwise it is the sound of silence). In the water, you can expect to get up close and personal with fur seals, pods of bottlenose dolphins and some lucky souls have even sighted the occasional whale and albatross. Ornithologists will no doubt already know that Doubtful Sound is home to the rare Fiordland Crested Penguin, so be sure to keep your binoculars ready as it would be a shame to miss the once in a lifetime sighting.
The region is famous for its seven meter annual rainfall, so do not be surprised if the sun isn’t shining. Yet despite the potential mist, Doubtful Sound remains majestic. The waterfalls are more mesmerising, the glassy water more mysterious, and the mountains rising into the clouds more impressive. As the Fiordlands website puts it, Doubtful Sound offers its visitors “cloistered serenity”. Expect to be both humbled and uplifted.