Doubtful Sound

This seven-hour trip involved a boat trip out of the Waiau River and across Lake Manapouri to a coach which took us over the Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove. Here we embarked on a second boat which took us out through the winding fiord to the Tasman Sea.

It had rained, which meant there were rushing streams…

And lots of waterfalls.

Once more my school geography lessons on glaciation enabled me to identify features such as terminal and lateral moraine left by the retreating glacier.

I was reminded of fiords I’d seen in Norway, only this is wilder with its temperate rainforest thick along the slopes of the fiord. No switchback roads climb the mountainsides and the only sign of a hotel is a bit of a joke by local fishermen.

Blanket Bay ‘Hotel

No bottle-nosed dolphins appeared (others had seen them the day before at Milford Sound) but there was a lone seal (as far as we could tell) and, later, a colony of fur seals at the entrance to the sea.

It was easy to see why Captain Cook was reluctant to enter the fiord with its rocky shoals partly obscured by the choppy water. He decided against sailing in to what he dubbed ‘Doubtful Harbour’. There were floating logs yesterday as well, due to the rain. The skipper of our boat had a digital radar to warn him of obstacles.

At one point, back in the calmer water of the fiord, the skipper turned off the engines and we floated silently, enjoying the lapping of water, bird song and the beech forest.

There were flowering trees. I’m not sure what this is with its masses of white flowers – ribbon wood, perhaps?

The sky cleared to reveal this view as we reached the top of the Wilmot Pass on our return.

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