If you are staying in Te Anau, you are here for one of two reasons, either you are a walker and getting set for one of the ‘great walks’ in the area (Milford Track, Routeburn Track etc) or you are here to see one (or both) of the ‘sounds’. Unfortunately the great walks will have to wait for another day as our time schedule simply does not have enough slack in it (although we will be ‘sampling’…hopefully…see tomorrows post). So we are here for the latter.
Originally we considered visiting both ‘sounds’ but reflecting, it probably does not make any sense and so we decided on doubtful sound over its much more famous but very much smaller sister (the number of coaches heading for Milford sound is simply astonishing). Here is a useful comparison of the two.
We chose a tour with “Go Orange” for no other reason than they offer smaller boats with less people (although in actual fact the first part of the tour is combined with the Real Journeys tour – the main operators in the area). Doubtful Sound is relatively isolated and prior to the 1960’s when a new power station was built, access was not possible (other than by a lengthy walk). With the Power Station came some infrastructure but the access to Doubtful Sound is still a bit convoluted.
The tour starts at Lake Manapouri with a 50 minute ferry across the lake. On the other side of the lake we were met by a bus which then follows a tricky 50 minute path across the mountains before arriving at the Sound itself. The tour is three hours up and down the Sound taking in the sights and the wildlife (we were lucky enough to see penguins, a sea lion and some dolphins). I think the Sound is pretty impressive although possibly slightly less so for those of us from Southern Europe (used to the more impressive) mountains of the Alps or those from Scandinavia used to the Fjords of Norway. Anyway the trip is worthwhile although the return coach trip and ferry is relatively tedious and all-in this is a seven hour trip!
Following our trip on the lake we drove part of the Te Anau to Milford highway which itself has some great scenery and judging by the number of buses returning from Milford Sound we had made the right choice.
The weather has not been as good as we had hoped and we are expecting some rain and cold over the next couple of days but we are watching developments closely are there are still some trips that we are keen to do. Watch this space.