Published: June 11th 2009June 10th 2009
The reason that I had ventured back into the mountains was to view the Doubtful Sounds. I have a habit of asking alot of questions when I am bored and I find somebody that works in tourism that looks bored. So at the i-Site in Stewart Island I had got into a good conversation with the lady who worked there. After the usual "This is nice and this is nice" she got down to business and just straight up told me to go to Doubtful Sound. This advice was accompanied with a five minute story of how much she enjoyed it. The woman was convincing. A few days later I asked the lady who worked at the hostel in Dunedin a few questions and in a few minutes Doubtful Sound was mentioned followed by a five minute story. My mind was already made up for me all I could say was "Doubtful? Sounds good to me".
First step was to get to Te Anau in in the south west of the island. Book a seat with a tour group. And the hardest step was to get up in the morning to catch the bus. Doubtful Sound is around 40 kilometers
long and is actually a fiord (means that it was carved out by glaciers). If you look at a map you will notice that the Doubtful is out of the way so getting there involves a few steps. You must take a bus to where the road ends, then a boat across Lake Manipouri, then board another bus to travel around 20 km on a dirt road around the mountainside then board a boat to do your Doubtful cruise. Technically you board the boat in Deep Cove and then out into Doubtful. The trip does take a bit of time we left before 9 am and boarded our cruise boat around noon (we had a little stop at a power station).
Tranquility, seclusion, peacefulness are all words to describe the place. The sounds of the boat engine chugging along, the cool morning air hitting your face, the mystical looking clouds that hovered around the mountains. These are my first memories of motoring out into the sound. There was one other tour boat on the sound but we only seen it for a few minutes so it did feel like we were the only 12 people on the sound. We
motored all the way out to the end of Doubtful and to where it meets the Tasman Sea. The waters were much choppier out there but in no time we were back on the calmer waters inland of the sound. At one point the boat just came to a complete stop with the captain shouting at us and pointing. I didn't hear what he said but figured it out when the boat turned and chugged slowly across the sound. Up ahead you could see some fins poking out of the water and when we got close the creatures came over to investigate. They happened to be bottlenose dolphins (large ones I was told) and there were about a dozen of them. Some got right beside us and would do a little jump or a little blowhole spray (don't know what else to call it). We started slowing going back down the sound while some of the dolphins did follow. We sped up the dolphins sped up. The dolphins showing us the way. I moved to the front deck of the boat and looked straight down to find two dolphins swimming in front of the boat. I tried to get some
good pictures but it is hard to time there sporadic jumps. These two guys (maybe gals, I don't know) swam with us for awhile. It was really neat to watch them almost surface then turn so there little eyes would be looking back up at me. It was a bit strange, I was watching them and there were watching me. Eventually they tired of us and swam off but not without one last jump for our cameras (I swear that they are attention hogs).
The day was somewhat clear for the first hour or so then it clouded over and rained. With each change in the weather brought a different look to the place. The dark clouds would make the farther away mountains look like shadows. Whatever the weather this place is very beautiful. The rest of the cruise one could only stand on the rear deck watching everything pass and just think to oneself. It is hard to put in words the scenery of this place, the feeling of being really far away from everything else. The humbling feeling of being just a small little being in a place of beauty and vastness.
There are more photos below