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Doubtful Sound

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Travel Guide Oceania Polynesia New Zealand South Island Fiordland National Park Doubtful Sound

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Introduction

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.

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Sights and Activities

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.

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Weather

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.

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Getting There and Around

As there is no airstrip in Doubtful Sound the only way to get in by air is in a helicopter. Such flights aren’t common but can be arranged with relative ease using a local helicopter operator such as Southern Lakes Helicopters.

It takes around 3hr 15min hours to get to Lake Manapouri from Queenstown by coach. Another option is to stay overnight in Te Anau which is only 23 kilometres down the road, and a nice destination to spend the night in its own right. Real Journeys operates coaches leaving both Queenstown and Te Anau and these can be bought as part of a package with a cruise.

From Queenstown it’s 170 kilometres, or roughly 2hr 45min by car to Lake Manapouri. From Te Anau the journey is much shorter being only 23 kilometres or 30 minutes by car. Both trips are enjoyable drives, and offer plenty of places to stop to stretch the legs and enjoy the scenery.

Access to the Wilmot pass that leads into Doubtful Sound is limited to boats only as visitors must first cross the spectacular Lake Manapouri. This can be done in private craft or via ferry services operated by Real Journeys. Being a fiord open to the Tasman Sea, Doubtful Sound can be accessed by private or charter vessels, and is often frequented by large cruise ships over the summer months.

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Eat/Drink

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Sleep

Being a remote location, there are few sleeping options available in Doubtful Sound. Visitors can stay at the Deep Cove Hostel, or book a night on a vessel with one of the operators that offer overnight cruises in Doubtful Sound.

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This is version 12. Last edited at 8:22 on Aug 11, 17 by Utrecht. 7 articles link to this page.

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