Doubtful Sound - Overnight boat trip

Published: February 11th 2020
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Absolutely the best morning of the entire trip! We woke up deep into Doubtful Sound. We had a 180-degree view from the bunks on the top deck, and we were surrounded by magnificent mountains, waterfall and calm see. Within 20 minutes we had dolphins jumping out of the water. Amazing!

We had booked an overnight boat trip on Doubtful Sound. It had required a bit of planning and researching to find out how we could best see the Fiordland National Park. The two big sounds are Milford and Doubtful Sound. A blog comparing the two explained (in much more detail) how Milford has more jaw dropping landscape, higher waterfall and taller mountains. It’s also the busier of the two, and often has several helicopters flying above you at any one time. Doubtful is less dramatic and also less busy. We opted for a 24-hour trip rather than a half day, to get a total feel of being away from everything, and not feeling rushed. And we chose the boat with just 10-11 guests rather than the popular 70 passenger cruise. It was worth every cent!

We were welcomed on the boat with a glass of bubbly, and from there on the most delicious food just kept flowing. First stop was the fur sea colony at the border of the open ocean. Then we headed into the sound again. First to drop off the steward, who was diving for lobsters, so we could have a “starter”. Then to do some fishing, so we could have a main course. Both Ollie, Alba and Nick had a go with the fishing rod, and Nick caught his first fish ever. Everyone on the boat had lots of fun, and the captain turned out to be a pro fisher. It was amazing to see him very quickly kill the big fish, cut them open, remove the guts and clean it up. Both Ollie and Alba were fascinated.

At one point, we had to quickly pull up the lines, because dolphins were coming our way. There’s a pod of about 70 bottlenose dolphins permanently living in the sound, and we were lucky that they wanted to pay us a visit. There are very strict rules about not being allowed to change course if you see dolphins and not following them around. That’s awesome for the dolphins and their numbers are increasing again. New Zealand is very good at the nature and animal protection. It is also very good to see all beaches, lakes, trains and roads free of any rubbish. Japan and Singapore are the only countries I can think of with the same level of cleanliness and tidiness.

Before dinner it was time for a kayak tour exploring the shores of the northers arm, where we were also overnighting. Ollie had been practising in Oamaru, so she took her own adult size kayak and paddled around. It’s amazing how far we’ve come since travelling with a pram, diapers, carry harnesses and midday naps!

The chef had prepared a four-course dinner. And that was after the cake and the cheese board that had been served during the afternoon. The size of the lobsters was incredible, and would have cost a fortune in any other place. Now they had just been pulled out of the water for the 10 of us. A small one for Ollie and Alba to share and four bigger ones. The diver had pulled out 7 in total, and two were put straight back, as we didn’t need them. A very sustainable way of doing things.

The people
Our penthouse cabinOur penthouse cabinOur penthouse cabin

We hadn’t expected much when we booked the bunk room (as opposed to the deluxe ensuite cabins). But when we saw how they had rebuilt the old wheelhouse we were pretty happy. Best view of the whole boat!
on the boat was a good mix of nationalities and ages. It was the four of us, and three couples. There was a very good energy in the group, and everyone could sit around the same table for meals. We had many good chats and will probably meet up with some of the people again towards the end of the trip. It was the perfect way of taking Ollie and Alba for their first overnight trip on a boat. But it’s definitely not the last time. Nick has signed up for a sailing course in the spring and hopefully it’ll be my turn next year. After this trip Ollie announced that she also wants to learn to sail, and she has already started planning a summer holiday where we sail to Bornholm and back.

Additional photos below
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