This morning Al was up early and went to the bakery to get breakfast and rolls for lunch while I got ready. A bus picked us up outside the motel and took us through to Manapouri where we hopped onto a boat for an hour’s trip across Lake Manapouri. While we were waiting to board the boat, someone announced that the two tour groups needed to go on the first boat and everyone else would go on the second boat. Well 10 minutes later there are still people running from the car park (or wherever else they were hiding) and wanting to push through to the front of the queue – talking nineteen to the dozen. That was when I leant over and whispered to Al “Now I remember why we don’t do the tour group thing. I like the companionable silence we sometimes share as well as being able to stop and start as we please. Please remind me about this next time I suggest going on a tour thing !!!!” He just laughed and said he had forgotten about it as well !!!!
We finally got onto our boat and then went across the lake. The skipper was really good and made the commentary really interesting. At the other side of the lake (1 hr later) we hopped onto a bus for a 45 min journey across the mountains before we finally got to Doubtful Sound. By the time we got to the boat, the two tour groups had pretty much run on and thrown bags and bottles of water onto chairs and tables to ‘book’ them before they went outside. We put our bags down on one of the middle tables and then went outside. The temp was relatively mild until we picked up speed on the Sound – then it was bitterly cold. Thank goodness we had the clothes that we had as they certainly did make it bearable. I didn’t want to spend too much time inside and figured for $198 I wanted to get my money’s worth out of the trip !!!! We saw a couple of dolphins which swam close to the boat. A little while later we saw a couple of penguins although they were very shy and you had to be quick to see them (luckily we were !!!) and then we saw a colony of NZ fur seals on an island in the Sound.
The scenery in this area is just amazing. While Milford Sound has all these almost sheer cliff faces, the mountains around Doubtful Sound slope more. There are many islands in the sound – some are bird sanctuaries, some are home to colonies of penguins or fur seals.
The pass between Lake Manapouri and Doubntful Sound
View on Wilmot Pass
Fur seals on island
Entrance to the sea from Doubtful Sound
At one point in the trip, the skipper pulled into a little area of the Sound, switched off the engines and let us listen to the sound of silence (well as silent as it could be when people insist on walking around and taking photos even though they were asked to stay still and not take any photos just for those 2 minutes !!!! Honestly, sometimes people just have no idea !!!!!) It would have been amazing if we could have heard it without the steps and cameras clicking !!!! So peaceful and tranquil.
We had some rain while we were in the Sound but not enough to chase us indoors. The rest of the time there was quite heavy cloud cover with lots of low lying clouds which made it often look like scenes from Lord of the Rings !!! The 3 hrs on the Sound passed so quickly and before I knew it, we were back where the boat docks and on the way back over the mountain. Included in the tour is a trip to the underground power station – 2km under – again, bug wuss that I am, there is no way I was going to go 2km underground. So, we hopped out before they went down and waited at the dock for them to get back before boarding the boat to get across Lake Manapouri and then finally the bus trip back to Te Anau.
A lovely soak in the spa was a great way to end a truly fantastic day !!!! This would have to be up there as one of the magical moments of our holiday – definitely well worth the money spent.