Monday, February 3, 2014


I've been following the route laid out for me by my friends in Auckland, and so far, it's been a lovely tour.  Leaving Queenstown, I headed south for Te Anau to spend the night before boarding the cruise boat for an overnight trip on Doubtful Sound.  There's a nice lake in Te Anau, and the place I stayed there was really nice, too.

Doubtful Sound is a large and imposing fiord in Fiordland, located in the far southwest of South Island, New Zealand.  It got its name from the famous navigator, Captain Cook, who called it Doubtful Harbor because he questioned whether it was navigable.  While its name was later changed to Doubtful Sound by whalers and sealers, it's actually a fiord, not a sound because it was formed by glaciers.

We set off at midday, taking a boat across Lake Manapouri, then boarded buses to cross the mountain pass to the Sound.  The bus stopped briefly to give us our first peek at our destination.

This was our cruise boat, photo snitched from the website.

I wasn't able to book a twin room, so I was in the "cheap seats" where four people bunk together in a small cabin, and there was no guarantee that my bunkmates would be female.  Fortunately, I had two lovely French women in my cabin--Caroline and Nathalie--both notary publics from Paris.  A notary public in France is a full-fledged lawyer, specializing in writing contracts of all types--real estate sales, wills, prenuptials, etc.  These ladies were really charming, and we spent some time together along with a couple from the Netherlands, Dini and Simon.

It was a relaxing cruise, and you got quite an education about the Sound from the crew.  The mountains in the Sound are solid rock and yet they support a verdant rainforest.

It rains most of the time, but there was, as the crew stated, a two-day drought.  You can see a small waterfall here, but when it's raining, this is what you might see.  The lines on the rock face are caused by tree avalanches.  When trees become too heavy to stay rooted in the thin soil, they fall, creating a chain reaction downward.  When it rains, these tree lines become narrow waterfalls.

We cruised around the Sound all afternoon and into the evening, stopping once for kayaking and swimming.  I forgot about the kayaking opportunity and hadn't packed a swimsuit or a second pair of pants to wear, so I remained an observer.

We cruised to the Tasman Sea outlet, where we saw dozens of seals lounging on the rocks.  Unfortunately, the sun was not behind us, so this picture is very dark.  I will replace it later when Dini sends me her superior pictures.

The Sound begins to change from dark greens to shadows as the sun goes down.

The sunset was lovely, and afterward we enjoyed a decent buffet dinner.  

My bunkmates decided to watch the sunrise, so when they got up, I decided to join them, since I was awake anyway.

The second day was much like the first.  After a buffet breakfast, we cruised some more.  The "drought" continued, and we had another beautiful sunny day.

The crew continued to educate us on all the flora and fauna on the islands.  (I hope there won't be a test!)

It was a very relaxing way to spend a couple of days enjoying the wonders of nature.

At midday, we journeyed across the pass again and bid our wonderful crew farewell.

No comments: