Doubtful Sound. South of New Zealand hides one of the most beautiful and hidden fjords in the country, Doubtful Sound. Perhaps its remoteness and its difficult access make your neighbor Milford sound (3 times shorter and 10 times smaller) take most visitors. Two ships and a road of legend will take us to this hidden place which was curiously explored for the first time by Spanish navigators.
New Zealand. The hidden Doubtful Sound fjord
Doubtful Sound or Fjord of Doubt, was named after him Captain Cook during his exploration to the New Zealand lands. He called it that because he simply did not want to enter the fjord because he was in a dense labyrinth of arms of water and, worse, the wind. This might not blow towards the sea and leave them locked inside it.
It wasn't until the year 1773 when a scientific expedition commanded by the Spanish Alejandro Malaespina I decided to go inside the fjord. Thanks to this feat, many of the islets it contains Doubtful Sound They have Spanish name.
Reaching the fjord is not easy. To start the only way is through a organized tour which has a cost of about € 150 and its reason is very easy, not accessible by road. To reach it, we must first cross the Manapouri Lake and once on the other side, use a road (Willmot road) that was carried out exclusively to build a huge Power Plant inside the mountain. Logically this road does not lead anywhere else. Once crossed the road we will arrive at the beginning of the fjord.
But let's make a subsection in the Manapouri Lake and in the Power plant. The first is considered the most beautiful lake in New Zealand and the largest in the South Island. Personally it seems like another fjord and it is very difficult to differentiate it. At the end of this lake is the Underground Power Station ... Yes, underground. At the beginning of the 20th century, an engineer named Peter Hay He came up with the idea of taking advantage of the flow of water that connects Manapouri Lake underground with Doubtful Sound.
At that time it was an impossible task and it was not until 1963 when it was decided to build such a feat and finish it in 1971. Given the so remote place in which it is located, a road had to be built that joins the fjord with the lake and with it transport the necessary material to build the plant. This took a lot of lives, mainly due to weather factors.
Today it has become one of the main sources of energy on the south island.
The road between the lake and the fjord (Wilmot road) is quite beautiful and at the same time key in our trip. In it is a mountain pass Wilmot pass (completely snowed in winter and spring), which has privileged views over Doubtful Sound.
Doubtful Sound from Willmot Pass
Going down the port we will see how the vegetation begins to change, something very characteristic of New Zealand. We can move from an alpine forest to one subtropical in just 10 minutes.
Finally we reach a small port where the ship that will make a visit to the Fjord is moored. From here we can see its majesty and the luck we have had with such a clear day. In this area it rains some 250 days a year and is usually quite covered with clouds.
We begin the visit with a splendid sun but with strong wind. This encourages many people to stay inside the boat, but as good viewers, we were dressed for the occasion. There was a temperature of 8 degrees with a sensation of 2 degrees and we didn't mind staying all the way overboard.
The sea was calm and the snowy mountains gave a different tone to the typical green postcards of the area. Personally the mixture of green, brown and white wins from the run.
We met several groups of dolphins, eager to accompany us and take pictures.
The cruise during the trip goes directly to the open sea without getting into any of its arms. It only makes stops at the waterfalls and at the points where we could see sea lions and penguins. The bad luck made us not see penguins this time, I guess because to see these nice animals it is advisable to see them first thing in the morning or 1 hour before nightfall.
Already on the way back, the ship went to the numerous arms of which the fjord is composed and which is very difficult to leave if one does not know them. It's amazing how there are still landscapes on planet earth in which man has barely influenced or touched. Many mountains that make up the fjord have never been trodden by it.
As a detail the stop that made the boat to hear the silence of the fjord.
Already back from the fjord and after passing Wilmot Road, we visited the Power plant. This looks like a real military bunker since it took us more than 5 minutes to reach it through a tunnel that goes into the confines of a mountain. An ideal touch to end our excursion back to Manapouri Lake
Practical data in Doubful Sound
Before leaving for New Zealand
- New Zealand's Planet Planet Guide
- Airport Transfers
- Car rental in New Zealand with 15% discount
- New Zealand map
When to go to Doubful Sound?
The best time to visit them is in summer and autumn, that is from end of October until the month of April. Before we can have the fjord closed, since to reach it we must pass a mountain pass that is easily blocked during the winter months. Also the low temperatures make many people stay inside the boat to enjoy the beauty of the fjord, big mistake, so if you go on these dates, do not forget the warm clothes and especially windbreaker.
Do not forget to look at the weather before hiring the tour. In the fjords it rains an average of 250 days a year and enjoying them with clouds is the same as throwing money.
How to get to the Doubful Sound?
SinceQueenstown you take the road that borders the lake in a southerly direction, specifically towards Invercargill. After more than 50km, we must turn towards Anau te and just before reaching that town is the detour to Manapouri. exist buses departing from Queenstown to make the fjord route.
The excursion can be hired from any tourist office iSite. The price ranges from 150/180€ depending on the starting point (Queenstown or Manapouri)
Where to sleep?
In the fjord the only accommodation option is a mountain shelter (Summer) and a boat, since there is a 2-day cruise option. Manapouri With just 200 inhabitants, it has several establishments, including a backpackers hostel (Freestone Backpapers) and a camping for motorhomes (Manapouti Lakeview Motor inn). Anau te It has a much wider hotel offer.
For a trip like this it is best to take out insurance. Iati offers us a offer for followers Travel for free. Traveling does not exempt you from having an accident, needing a doctor, a transfer or medication. Do not play it. Check the travel insurance by clicking on the banner and you will have a 5% in your insurance for being a travel reader for free. If you want more information click here.