Hoping for good weather, we booked the 8am cruise with Real Journeys online 13 hours prior to departure. It was a bit pricey but it’s the only way to see Doubtful Sound so we decided to splurge.
Thankfully there was a good early breakfast spread at our lodge because we had to be on the road to Manapouri by 7:10am to catch the boat. It was a quick 20 minute drive to the harbor where we picked up our tickets and anxiously awaited our cruise.
The trip started with a 50 minute boat ride across Lake Manapouri. The heavy clouds made for a dim early morning trip across the lake but you could still see several waterfalls as it had rained the evening before.
We sat across from an older woman named June who was traveling on her own in a camper van. Her travel companions, her husband and best friend, had both passed on in the last several years so she was taking a few months to revisit some of her favorite places on the South Island. She was very well-traveled and we had a great time chatting about some of our favorite cities and trips.
Next up was the 22km bus ride up and over Wilmot’s Pass. Our driver, Alan, was a sarcastic comedian (in a good way) and also full of great knowledge about the pass, the underground power station and the engineering feats that made this excursion possible.
Once the boat trip started the clouds parted and we were greeted with clear blue skies – the exact opposite of the conditions on the other side of the pass. It was really hard to put into words the beauty of our surroundings. So! I will let the photos do the talking…
One of my favorite parts of the cruise was the trip deep into Crooked Arm when the captain turned off the boat motor and many of us stood in complete silence on the upper deck just listening to the birds and not taking photos.
On the way back over the pass, the bus stopped for everyone to get a shot of Doubtful Sound from the top of the pass looking out from Deep Cove.
We were back in Manapouri by 3:15p, so we hopped back in the car, gassed up and continued our marathon day by driving to Milford Sound.