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To the south of Milford Sound is the altogether more remote feeling Doubtful Sound. Reached by boat across Lake Manapouri and a bus ride over Wilmot Pass, Doubtful Sound is over 30 kilometres long and 500 metres deep and is situated west of Lake Manapouri in Fiordland National Park.
To be enjoyed here are the peace and grandeur of nature. The sound is a fiord just like Milford to the north, but it is quite different in character. Milford has steeper walls and is narrower, while Doubtful Sound is wider with precipitous, tree covered walls. Doubtful is also far greater in size. The best way to see this wonderful and mysterious landscape is from a boat cruising from Deep Cove and heading along the sound towards the distant Tasman Sea with spectacular new views appearing at each turn.
The west coast of South Island has high rainfall as a whole and Doubtful Sound is no exception. A combination of the westerly winds from the Tasman Sea and the mountainous nature of the area ensure that Doubtful Sound will never suffer from a drought! It doesn't rain all the time though and when it does it just adds to those spectacular waterfalls.
One feature of the local climate is that the sound is sheltered from the open sea by its enclosing walls meaning that the weather can be calm at Deep Cove when storms rage out in the Tasman Sea.
There is no access for cars - this adds to the peace and quiet! The road over Wilmot Pass is open only to buses. Access to Wilmot Pass is by a most enjoyable cruise across the spectacular Lake Manapouri with the option to visit Manapouri Underground Power Station - well worth doing - before crossing the pass to Deep Cove at the end of Doubtful Sound.
A number of operators offer cruises here - the best known is Real Journeys who also offer trips to Milford Sound. The company used by the author was Fiordland Explorer Charters of Manapouri and we had the advantage of a smaller boat and group size. I would reccomend them every time.
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