Doubtful Sound NZ – The most stunning overnight cruise I have done

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Doubtful Sound

While visiting New Zealand I heard about Doubtful Sound & Milford Sound, I did the 2hr cruise on Milford Sound and found it beautiful but when I saw pictures of Doubtful, I knew that I somehow had to fit it in my trip.

It was originally named Doubtful Harbour by Captain Cook in 1770 but then later renamed by whalers and sealers.  Doubtful is a lot bigger than the famous Milford, it’s 40km to the sea compared to Milford’s 16km.  Milford is also accessible by road meaning that there are a lot more tourists and a lot of tourist boats on the water.

I had a trip to the Real Journeys office and managed to book the overnight cruise.  It was a lot more expensive than the Milford trip (in 2016 the price is $430 compared to $74 for the 2hr cruise in Milford), but I knew it was something I had to do.

On the day I was picked up in Queenstown and transferred to Manapouri where you take a short cruise across Lake Manapouri which itself is stunning.

Lake ManapouriLake Manapouri

We then boarded a coach to take us across the Wilmot pass and to where we would pick up our boat for the cruise around Doubtful.  The scenery here was stunning, there were beautiful waterfalls and we stopped at the top of the pass to get our first look of Doubtful, what an amazing site.  It was an amazing clear day, not many people get to see this view when they visit Doubtful as often its shrouded in clouds, we were so lucky.

Wilmot PassDoubtful Sound

If they had told us at this point that it was the end of the trip, then this view alone would of been worth the money, I had completely fallen in love with it.

We got to the dock and boarded the Fiordland Navigator our boat for the trip, I was in a small 4 bed dorm room, tight for space but we would only be sleeping there and I then went on deck for a cup of tea before we set sail.

Fjordland Navigator Doubtful Sound

There are three distinct arms of Doubtful Sound and we set off from Deep Cove to explore these.

Doubtful SoundDoubtful Sound

The scenery was stunning and after a few hours we finally reached the sea 40km away from where we had started the day.  We saw seals sunbathing on the rocks and we then circled round and started heading back inland.

Doubtful SoundDoubtful Sound

We stopped after a little bit and the crew got out the kayaks so we could do a kayak trip closer to the shore, this was great fun, I love kayaking so I was one of the first out there.

Doubtful Sound Doubtful Sound

After our kayak trip it was back on the boat for a shower and change before dinner. First we went outside to see sunset and take some more pictures of the stunning scenery.

Doubtful SoundDoubtful Sound

After dinner we got an early night as we would be up early the next morning (6am) to start our journey back to Deep Cove.  The views this morning were spectacular and we were also lucky to see the Fiordland Crested penguins.  They are one of the rarest of New Zealand’s mainland penguins and the breeding season had finished so they are not normally in the area in December.

Doubtful Sound Doubtful Sound Doubtful Sound Doubtful Sound Doubtful Sound Doubtful Sound Doubtful Sound Doubtful Sound

Once we got back to shore it has back on the bus to cross the pass before getting the ferry back from the lake.  This was one of my favourite trips in New Zealand and one I will never forget.  Yes it might be a bit expensive but it’s worth getting the credit card out and splashing out, it’s simply stunning.

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Doubtful Sound - One of the most stunning places in New Zealand

Find out about Why I started travelling here, Miami Beach here, Key West here, Everglades here, Bolton Abbey here, Naples here, Koh Tao here, Yangon – Myanmar here, Ischica – Italy here, Koyasan – Japan here, Machu Picchu – Peru here, Memphis here, Faro – The Algarve here, Fiji – South Sea Island here & Egypt – My trip in a hot air balloon here

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18 thoughts on “Doubtful Sound NZ – The most stunning overnight cruise I have done

  1. Wow, wow, wow!! Sign me up today! New Zealand is high on my list and now I’ll add the cruise too. I love that you are able to kayak to get closer to the islands too.

  2. We did the 2 hour trip a few years ago when we were staying in Queenstown. The views were stunning! The only problem was when we got back to our car the Kia birds were eating the rubber off the windows!

  3. New Zealand really is one of the most beautiful landscape/scenery countries in the world. Great to do a cruise through here and spend the night too. I love that you were able to do such things as kayaking. Great experience by the looks of it.

  4. I have not done the boat tour, but it looks amazing. Who doesn’t love to get out on the water for a few hours? It’s one of my favorite things to do when exploring a new place!

  5. What a magical trip. $430 does sound like a lot of money for a one night cruise in a small 4 bed dorm but as you say it is only for sleeping. I’m heading to NZ next month but to the North Island and can only hope the scenery is as stunning as in your pictures.

  6. I’ve never heard about Doubtful Sound although Milford sound has been on my travel bucket list. Judging by your photos, it does look just as stunning. It’s no surprise as NZ is filled with many beautiful sights and landscapes!

  7. Doubtful and Milford sounds are so incredible, I only managed to do Milford but everybody I know that went doubtful had said how amazing that place is…That’s what I love so much about New Zealand, just how majestic both Islands are and everything they have to offer…Next time I go back to NZ I’ll make sure to do doubtful and have to do this overnight cruise 😀

  8. I absolutely love New Zealand. Last year my husband, our son and I travelled with Real Holidays to Milford Sound and were blown away. We said the next trip would be to Doubtful and we would do the overnight one too. You have inspired me to make this trip even more now. New Zealand is calling me back.

    • New Zealand is such a beautiful country. I did the Milford Sound trip too and it is beautiful but Doubtful Sound was amazing. I hope you get back there to see it 🙂

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