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Doubtful Sound New Zealand -  a stunning waterway located in the amazing Fiordland National Park

Where is Doubtful Sound?

Doubtful Sound New Zealand - is one of several beautiful fiords within Fiordland National Park.

Located on the south western coast of New Zealand's South Island, Doubtful Sound was discovered by English explorer Captain James Cook in 1770, who named it Doubtful Harbor. It was later renamed Doubtful Sound by whalers and seal hunters.

Thankfully, those days are long gone, and the waters are now a safe haven for wildlife (and for all you lucky visitors).

Cruises on the Sound are a wonderful way to experience the majesty of this special part of New Zealand.

Why Visit Doubtful Sound New Zealand?

Do you like amazing scenery?

Do you like pure clear air?

Do you want to immerse yourself in nature?

Of course you do. And that's why people come to Doubtful Sound New Zealand.

But should I visit Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound?

For visitors with limited time, the question often asked is "Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound?".

Milford Sound is probably more spectacular than Doubtful, with sheer cliffs rising thousands of feet almost vertically from the dark waters of the sound. And the drive into Milford Sound from Te Anau is one of the most spectacular drives in the world. Milford's popularity (it was described by the famous English author Rudyard Kipling as the "Eighth Wonder of the World") means that there will be more visitors than at Doubtful Sound.

Although less well known than Milford Sound , Doubtful Sound has a unique feel of it's own which makes it a must see on your New Zealand adventure. Beautiful forest clad peaks, and wide meandering waterways add to the serene charm of this wonderful part of New Zealand, which is sometimes referred to as the "Sound of Silence".

At 421 metres deep, Doubtful is New Zealand's deepest fiord, and has several "arms". Waterfalls are also plentiful, particularly during times of heavy rainfall, when literally hundreds of waterfalls cascade down the steep slopes. Notable falls are Helena Falls at Deep Cove, and the 600 metre high Browne Falls!

The Hall Arm, Doubtful Sound - pic courtesy

Doubtful Sound is much larger and more isolated than Milford Sound. This isolation provides a more relaxed environment than Milford Sound and allows for more regular sightings of the region's varied wildlife.

Bottlenose Dolphin, New Zealand Fur Seals, several species of whale, and Fiordland Crested Penguins all frequent Doubtful Sound, and it's the perfect place to see these amazing creatures in their natural habitat.

Bottlenose dolphins delight in following cruise boats and they are amazing to watch as they "surf" the bow wave of your tour boat.

The deep, cool waters of Doubtful Sound New Zealand consist of two very clear water layers. These layers rarely mix. The top layer of fresh water extends downwards for two or three metres, and is fed by runoff from the surrounding peaks (and stained brown by tannins from vegetation). Cold saltwater from the sea sits below the fresh water, and because of the tannins above (which restrict light flow), many species usually found in much deeper water, thrive at relatively shallow depths in Doubtful Sound.

Getting to Doubtful Sound

Access to Doubtful Sound is either by sea (large cruise ships only), or via the Willmot Pass Road, near the pretty lakeside village of Manapouri (located around 20 kilometres from Te Anau).

Please note that the Wilmot Pass road is not accessible to normal vehicular traffic, as it is not connected to any other road. It's accessed only after crossing Lake Manapouri.

The drive from Queenstown to Manapouri takes around 2 hours, via State Highways 6, 94 and 95 - refer to our State Highways map.

The crossing of Lake Manapouri (from Pearl Harbour at Manapouri to the Manapouri Power Station) takes around 1 hour, and the coach trip across Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove (the departure point for cruises on Doubtful Sound) takes a further 1 hour.

Scenic flights are available over Doubtful Sound, but landings at Doubtful Sound are not possible.

Doubtful Sound

Cruising on Doubtful Sound

A cruise on a tour boat is the most popular way to see Doubtful Sound.

There are several operators, and tours range from a few hours to overnight cruises.

Your journey takes you by road to Manapouri, where you board a boat to cross Lake Manapouri.

From there you take a coach ride over the 670 metre high Wilmot Pass for stunning views of Doubtful Sound (and lots of great photo opportunities), and then on to Deep Cove, where you join your cruise boat.

Here are a couple of highly rated tours:

* Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise from Te Anau or Manapouri

* Doubtful Sound overnight cruise from Queenstown, Te Anau or Manapouri

* Doubtful Sound full day tour - fly to and from Queenstown, including Doubtful Sound cruise

Imagine waking up on Doubtful Sound - click for more information

Other Ways To See Doubtful Sound New Zealand

Other ways to see Doubtful Sound are on a scenic flight,  or by kayak.

Flights to Doubtful Sound

There are a number of scenic flights to Doubtful Sound. You can read reviews and see the range of flights here.

Kayak tours

Forget the crowds and get up close and personal with nature on a guided kayak tour of Doubtful Sound with Fiordland Adventure. Choose from full day, overnight or two day guided tours.

Or, if you prefer, they offer a full kayak hire service on Lake Manapouri, including all the gear you need.

The serene, calm waters of Fiordland offer the perfect environment for your kayak adventure.

Accommodation for Doubtful Sound

The village of Manapouri is the closest accommodation to Doubtful Sound, and has a small range of camping, cabin, backpacker and hotel accommodation.

You can read customer reviews, search for Manapouri accommodation, and make your bookings here.

Fiordland Lodge - pic courtesy Fiordland Lodge

Te Anau, around 20 kilometers from Manapouri, has a wider range of accommodation, with a choice of motels at various price levels.

Te Anau also has a small shopping precinct offering a selection of restaurants, bars, and retail outlets.

If you can stretch the budget, for a true luxury experience, why not try the stunning lakeside Fiordland Lodge.

Check Out This Great Video on Doubtful Sound New Zealand

By Real Journeys, One Of The Tour Operators On Doubtful Sound.


Doubtful Sound Map Courtesy

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