Sorrel heads back to NZ's fabulous Fiordland National park to cruise these beautiful calm waters.
Doubtful Sound is one of 14 fiords in New Zealand's Fiordland National Park. Its physical grandeur of towering peaks descending into dark waters, waterfalls from high, ice-age valleys and fiords covered with ancient vegetation sets a powerful atmosphere of solitude and serenity. It is three times longer than Milford Sound, with a surface area 10 times larger. Seals and dolphins are regular visitors and penguins pop in occasionally.
Doubtful Sound is very quiet and until relatively recently was almost inaccessible. The construction of a road over the Wilmot Pass opened the area up, but it is still considered off the tourist track.
Real Journeys run tours of the area. Set out from Manapouri aboard the Fiordlander for the one-hour cruise across the lake to West Arm. Lake Manapouri is New Zealand's fifth-largest lake, rimmed with forest-clad mountains and filled with crystal-clear water.
When you arrive, you transfer to a coach and travel along the 23km road over Wilmot Pass, with its dense rainforest and colourful alpine moss gardens. Then board the catamaran Commander Peak at Deep Cove for three hours on the beautiful sound, where you’ll see bottlenose dolphin, fur seals basking on rocks and rare crested penguins. The seals were almost extinct thanks to their lustrous coats, but are now highly protected and breeding.
There is detailed commentary along the way.
Manapouri Underground Power Station at West Arm is New Zealand's largest electric power station. Most of it is underground, making it unique. Visitors travel by coach down the two-kilometre spiral tunnel which was hewn from solid granite. Once in the heart of the mountain, you can see how the energy of rushing water is harnessed to generate electricity.
The south-west corner of New Zealand's south island
Real Journeys full-day tours cost around $175 per person.
Qantas flies daily to Auckland with connections to Queenstown, starting at $575 from Sydney and Melbourne, $577 from Brisbane, $869 from Adelaide, $970 from Perth and $1269 from Darwin, per person. Prices include charges/taxes and are current at time of writing, but may vary at time of booking. Seasonal surcharges and conditions apply.
PO Box 1, Te Anau New Zealand
Ph: 64 3 249 7416
Fax: 64 3 249 firstname.lastname@example.org
Qantas: 13 13 13