|At least it is a nice ride on the ferry.|
|This Captain is tired. Too much driving and now an early|
morning and long bus ride to a ferry and a bus and a ferry!
As a result, the area was never developed as the same conditions exist today. There are a couple of small towns on the edge of Fiordland and the beautiful glacial Lake Manapouri. In order to get to Doubtful Sound, we took a ferry 30 km across the lake to a waiting bus. This was after a 2.5 hour bus ride from Queenstown, but the bus was much better than driving early in the morning or staying overnight at the end of the trip. Once on the second bus, we traveled through Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove, which is the entrance to Doubtful Sound.
The terrain is rugged with steep mountains, deep glacier-shaped valleys and hundreds of waterfalls. The bush is a blanket of dense sub-tropical rainforest. Unfortunately for us, it rained most of the day so we did not see much wildlife on the road or water. However, the rain brought to life hundreds of waterfalls everywhere you looked! Spectacular!
This is truly untouched wilderness as only a couple of people live in a camp that is near the Manapouri Hydro-electric Power Station there. It gets so much rain that it is not a pleasant place to be on a regular basis. The complex geology of the area has evolved over the last 500 million years.
Doubtful Sound itself was pristine, quiet except for the sounds of nature and a visual feast. It is 421 meters deep making it one of the deepest fiords. It has three distinct arms branching off the main body of water that runs in about 40 kilometers from the open ocean. Doubtful Sound is three times the length and ten times the area of Milford Sound, the other more popular tour destination.
The tour boat took us into a couple of arms and all the way
out to the Tasman Sea. On rocks near the Tasman Sea, we saw a number of fur
seals basking in the sun when it finally came out. It is not uncommon to have
rain on a fiord tour. Unfortunately, we
did not see any of the 60-some bottlenose dolphins that live in Doubtful Sound
and it is the wrong season for the Fiordland Crested Penguins.
|If you look closely, you can see the fur seals on the rock.|
Although a very long and rainy day, it was well worth the time. At one point the Captain turned off the engine and asked us to refrain from talking. The silence of the fiord was deafening. Other than a few birds and the falling water, it was silent. You could just take in nature with the sights, sounds, smells and the air on your face. It is not often that we are so still and just absorb what is around us!
By the way, these are not really Sounds! Technically, they are fiords - very large and imposing fiords. A Sound is often formed by the sea flooding a valley. Sometimes one is produced by a glacier carving out a valley on the coast and then receding. Such glaciers formed sounds have steep vertical walls that extend deep underwater. This means a boat can go up close to the wall without hitting bottom. The term "fjord" is used in most of the world, but in New Zealand, it is spelled "fiord." The Sounds in New Zealand are really fiords created by glaciers.