Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise, New Zealand

By: leelefever on January 29, 2006 - 10:48pm

Explorer Capt. James Cook was not bashful about naming all the geographic features of New Zealand and Doubtful Bay is no exception. When he came upon it, he figured that if he went in, he might not make it out because of the prevailing westerly wind.  He was “doubtful” he should do it and the name stuck.

Thankfully, we have motorized boats that enable us to explore what he missed, and did he miss a lot.  Doubtful Bay is part of the Fiordland Region of New Zealand and is stunningly beautiful in a way that cameras can’t really capture, with 1000s of feet of sheer cliffs plunging into dark, deep, cold waters.

It’s no small feat to get there too. You have to take a boat across a lake for 45 minutes, then a van over Wilmot Pass on a dirt road for another 45 mins just to get started.  We felt alone for a majority of the time with a couple of boats in the distance that represented a bit of “congestion”.

We hooked up with an independent overnight tour operator called Deep Cove Charters, LTD.  The boat was called “Flyer”.  The skipper, Chris, was great and has to be the hardest working man in the Fiordlands.  He does these tours every day (and every night), sometimes up to 20 in a row, dropping a group off as he picks up another. We were all very impressed with Chris and the trip.  It was about $300pp NZ ($212 US) per person, but it included a freshly caught crayfish (think lobster) lunch and venison and blue cod dinner and breakfast.

Flyer holds 6 people and we figured we’d end up with 4 non-english speaking folks, which might have been fun too.  As it turned out, we spent 24 hours with 2 couples from Minnesota who are traveling together.  It was surely the most time we’ve spent with Americans on the whole trip and they were great folks.

Other than the scenery, the highlight was surely fishing.  Sachi caught a bunch of Perch that were used for bait and finally a giant Blue Cod, which we ate that night.  I caught a nice sized grouper.

Look at the size of that thing!

OK, it wasn't that big...

 Here's my Grouper

A note about “Fiordlands”…

It is supposed to be spelled the Norwegian way “fjords”, but the current spelling stuck since the 1800’s.  We learned that a fjord is a body of water that was carved by glaciers and links to the sea as opposed to a “sound” which is formed by a river. Many of the sounds in New Zealand are actually supposed to be fiords, or better yet, fjords.  In fact, we think Seattle is actually on Puget Fjord instead of Puget Sound.