New Zealand, 2008

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Doubtful Sound

On Thursday morning we began our overnight trip to Doubtful Sound. A van picked us up on the main road and took us to the dock on Lake Manipouri. A fast launch, below, carried our group of eight across the lake, about a 45-minute trip, to a landing at the Manipouri Power Station — which is quite an engineering project and a story in itself.

Lake Manipouri is often said to be the most beautiful lake in New Zealand. We wouldn't know, but with its stunning mountain setting, it may be the most beautiful lake we have seen.

From the power station landing, a bus took us over Wilmot Pass to Doubtful Sound. Along this road we had one of our first close-up looks at New Zealand's native trees and plants.

On the bus over Wilmost Pass

At the top of the pass

Doubtful Sound from Wilmot Pass

There were eight guests on the boat, a South African couple who now live in Australia, their daughter and son-in-law now living in New Zealand, a young Dutch couple, and us. David, the Captain, was pleasant and very informative about the fjords and the natural environment. He had an assistant, Cameron, who looked after meals and cleaning up.

Below: Our boat, and getting underway
Right: Capt. Dave, sailor, naturalist, tour guide, and Kay,
a fellow passenger


Below: Heading down the sound;
Right: On deck; Barbara enjoying it!

"Awesome" would be the perfect word for Doubtful sound if it hadn't been so cheapened by overuse.


Looking back at the entrance to Doubtful Sound from the Tasman Sea.

Dolphins near the boat

Baby seals playing on rocks near entranct to Doubtful Sound

Research vessel near mouth of sound

Heading back inside as evening approaches

When Barbara got up early, the waters of Crooked Arm, where we had anchored for the night, were a perfectly still mirror.

We returned to the Doubtful Sound wharf, took the bus back over Wilmot Pass, crossed Lake Manipouri again, and were back on the mainland shortly after noon. We'd been blessed with perfect weather, and Doubtful Sound lived up to its reputation — a wonderful experience and no doubt one of the highlights of our trip.

We finished up our time at Lake Manipouri with a night tenting in the holiday park we'd stayed in for the three nights previous to Doubtful Sound; it was starting to feel like home.

On the left is the dining area at the holiday park in Manipouri. The communal kitchen adjoined it to the left. Nearly all camping parks have shared kitchens for campers to use, and they often have dining areas, TV lounges, laundries and so on. This dining area at Manipouri is particularly attractive, but they are nearly all quite good, and it's huge benefit to travelers, especially ones like us who are on bicycles and can't carry a household worth of cooking gear.

Below are shots on the front lawn of the campground, taken just before we set off for Tuatepere and the south coast.


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