My wife and I awoke with anticipation in our crappy camper van in a small car park in the remote town of Manapouri, located on the southwestern side of New Zealand’s Southern Island. We had arrived in the small town just after dark the night before and were eager to take in the world-famous landscape that is Fiordland National Park. Before dawn, we made our way to the docks where we loaded onto a boat operated by Real Journeys. We traveled for an hour across the beautiful Manapouri Lake. Then we loaded onto a coach bus and made our way up the gravel, windy, expensive, and remote Wilmot Pass Road at speeds that at times seemed excessive for the cumbersome vehicle. Much of this expedition was very beautiful, but all paled to the view we received as we topped the pass and saw the Doubtful Sound for the first time. Taking in this mystical looking landscape had made all the preparation and expense more than worthwhile.
We spent most of the remainder of the day cruising the sound out to the Tasman Sea and back. Unlike the Milford Sound, we saw very few other boats and essentially had the entire Sound all to ourselves. Well, we did have to share it with the dolphins, fur seals, and blue penguins. It was truly an amazing adventure and I highly recommend going through the effort to get here if you are ever in this part of the world. My only regret is not having more time & money to be able to stay in the sound overnight and experience this tranquil landscape by moon light… maybe one day. The Milford Sound is amazing, but the Doubtful Sound was the highlight of this region and perhaps our entire New Zealand adventure.