On Sunday january 11th I joined the Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise by RealJourneys for a visit to Lake Manapouri, the power station and Doubtful Sound. The weather was fantastic and so was the trip: Doubtful Sound is a magical place. It's even more remote than Milford Sound, and while it may be a little less dramatic it more than makes up what it lacks in mountainous drama with it's size and silence. There's a refreshing lack of civilization and tourism. Bottlenose dolphins are frequently seen here, as are New Zealand fur seals and many different bird species.
Part of the appeal of the trip to Doubtful Sound is its remoteness. The area is only accessible to tourism because of the Manapouri Power Station that was built mid-20th century. Construction of the facilities required creating an access road from Lake Manapouri over Wilmot Pass to Doubtful Sound, and it is this winding unpaved road that allows people to visit this marvellous place. At Deep Cove a jetty has basically been hung to the cliffside, since the rockface is too steep and the water too deep for a traditional pier with vertical pylons. A catamaran-type jetboat awaited us for a three hour tour of the fjord, after which we had to take the same journey back to return to Manapouri.