The magnificent views of Doubtful Sound

New Zealand hasn’t exactly been a cheap date so far, but given the fact that it’s fantastically beautiful we’re willing to overlook that. Our most expensive excursion of the month involved an overnight cruise into Doubtful Sound, which¬† didn’t disappoint.

On the day of the cruise we were picked up from our motel in Te Anau, which is a pretty little town where all of the cruises seem to set off from. We’d spent the morning packing and stretching our legs on one last walk before a night confined to the limited space of a boat.

The journey to the boat we’d be sleeping on took around 3 hours and involved a two coaches and a boat over a lake, each taking around an hour. The last coach would have been less but they stopped a few times at photogenic spots, where everyone would inexplicably get off and start taking photos of ferns. I let Mark get off and take photos, knowing I wasn’t going to get anything any more original and I could see it all through the window anyway.

Eventually we reached the cruise boat, where we got a introductory briefing once everyone was safely onboard. We were then given the keys to our tiny cabins for the night and we set off towards Doubtful Sound.

The scenery throughout the trip was stunning, and the weather we got on the first day was beautiful blue skies and not a drop of rain in sight. The morning and afternoon was full of opportunities to head outside on the boat and take photos. We were even joined by some beautiful bottlenose dolphins who hitched a free ride in the boats waves.

In the afternoon the crew got the kayaks out, which neither of us were really prepared for. Mark had said he wasn’t going to go swimming in the water before we left and I didn’t pack anything suitable either, though I hadn’t realised Mark didn’t know there was going to be kayaks. We decided to go in anyway and got a bit soaked, but it was totally worth it even if Mark had to spend an hour afterwards using a hairdryer on his jeans.

After an hour kayaking through the fiords, we’d definitely worked up an appetite for the soup they were serving back on the boat.

There wasn’t much change after the kayaking, apart from a trip out to look at the Tasman Sea. We saw some fur seals before heading back into the fiords to moor for the night. I love those big chubby animals just lounging around on the rock, and I couldn’t take my eyes off them when we turned to leave.

In the evening we were fed again, though I really didn’t need any more food at that point. We probably ate more food on the boat than we have done in months. I still feel like I’m digesting it now, days later.

I’d hoped to see some starts from the boat at night, but it turned out to just be a huge creepy darkness which swallowed up all of the scenery around us. We headed to our cabin for an early night, knowing that there was going to be an early wake-up call and breakfast ready at 7am.

In the morning the fiords looked totally different to how they’d been the previous day. Gone was the blue sky, replaced instead by clouds drifting over the cliffs which made the landscape feel even more dramatic than before. The waterfalls in the rocks had come alive, being fed by the moisture in the air. It was a wonderful change and I’m glad we got to see two sides to Doubtful Sound while we were there.

We were joined by dolphins a few times in the morning and our skipper even stopped to watch a group swim by us in the water. It was so fun watching the dolphins flip around and play in the water nearby.

Before heading back to land the skipper took us to Hall Arm, where the crew switched off everything on the boat to let us just listen to the sounds of nature around the boat. It was a beautiful 10 minutes in which you could hear birdsong and the sound of water crashing down the sides of the cliff. I desperately wanted to be out camping instead, just relaxing with nature surrounding us for a few days.

After that it was time to return and we were back in Te Anau before midday, ready to make the trip back up the coast to Haast.

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