Wow – what a day. It’s not easy to get to Doubtful Sound. First it was a 20 minute bus ride from Te Anau (where we are staying) to a dock at Lake Manapouri for a 50 minute boat ride to the other end of the lake where we then got on another bus. This time a 40 minute drive over Wilmot Pass on a single lane gravel road with a 5:1 down slope, to Deep Cove.
That’s where we got on the Doubtful Sound tour boat. Doubtful Sound is in Fjordland National Park, the largest in NZ, at 1.2 million hectares. 250 years ago this month, Captain Cook spent several months exploring and charting this area, mainly in Dusky Sound but also in Doubtful Sound.
The Doubtful Sound water area is 10 times that of Milford Sound. We were again very fortunate with the weather. There was a lot of low cloud in the morning but it lifted and the sun even peeked out a few times. It was not windy so we could easily go out to the opening into the Tasman Sea where the captain was able to hold station by the local furry seal colony. On the way back we were very lucky to have a large group of the local bottlenose dolphins hang around the boat for a while.
The beige ground is from a slide that happened 5 days ago. There is very little soil in which to put down roots so when a tree falls, it usually starts a ‘slide’. The first thing that starts to grown again is lichen. You can see vertical lines of various shades of green from earlier slides in many of the pictures where vegetation is making a return.
Near the end of the trip, the captain went down Hall Arm and because it was a very calm day, we could have a time of silence. He turned off the the engine and asked people outside, which was a high percentage of us, not to talk or make any noise. We could hear the small waterfall near by, small waves lapping on shore and some birds – it was quite magical.
On a geographical note, these places were misnamed many years ago as sounds. Sounds are created by rivers, over thousand of years. Milford, Doubtful and all the other ‘sounds’ on the west coast of NZ are fjords, created by glaciers.