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Published: February 12th 2010
We made it to Manapouri at the edge of Fjordland National Pack in our leaky Spaceship in time to put it in the garage for repair and catch our ferry taking us across Lake Manapouri. This was the start of our 2 day wilderness cruise in the Doubtful Sound.
The lake is interesting in that it feeds one of NZ's largest hydro-electric power stations producing nearly 5% of its electricity, whilst the majority of plant is underground we could see the control station and transmission wires as we crossed the lake. We then took a coach across Wilmot pass to Deep Cove at the heart of Dountful Sound. This 21km stretch of road is completely isolated from the mainland so the few coaches and plant machinery goes back and forth on this stretch! It was only build to build the power station and now provides access for a limited number of people to Doubtful Sound (unlike Milford which is teaming with tourists!) Once we were in Deep Cove we boarded the Fjordland Navigator, a purpose build boat housing 70 people (and 30 kayaks) that was to be our home fo rthe next 24 hours. There was a recurring Scottish theme
on the vessel with its tartan carpets and scottish crew members.
On board the ecologist provided commentory about how the sound was fromed and the native species to be encountered on the trip as we made our way out of Deep Cove passing Rolla and Elizabeth Islands. It was a hot sunny day (apparently unusual for the sounds) and apparently the middle of a 2 week drought!! The ship turned into the calmer waters of crooked arm cove and we got the opportunity to jump into the kayaks. It was quite hard work initially until someone explained to Lisa how to paddle properly against the currents (no chances of Dave helping here he was gone leading the pack as usual).
After getting back aboard we headed out of crooked arm and continued on our journey towards the Tasman sea. When we got there the sea was calm (again unusual) so the Navigator made one of its rare seaward voyages to view a seal colony which hangs out on one of the nearby islands, it was cool. The sun was sitting low in the sky so we headed back into the sound and anchored in First arm for the night.
Aboard the boat we met a nice group of thirty somethings, one Candaina living in Dubbo, Oz. Also an American coupleon their honeymoon and some cool swiss people. The food was amazing (after weeks of standard fair) and we had a cracking Roast Lamb Dinner although Lisa had hers with salad which was quite weird. The evening was rounded off by a yummy dessert whilst watching the eco slideshow and strolling around on deck look at the shooting stars sipping G&Ts!
We wer eup at 0530 to catch the sunrise and half an hour later the engines were started to disturb the tranquility of the cove. We headed back along the sound not before entering Hall Arm where the ship switched off its engines once more and we had a few minutes silence listening to the sounds of the native forest in all its glory (bar a few noisy French people as usual). You could have heard a pin drop on deck bar the sounds of brids, waterfalls etc.
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