The Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise Experience


Imagine cruising through one of New Zealand’s most remote fiords and getting to stick around for the evening. The RealNZ Doubtful Sound overnight cruise experience sends you into the depths of Fiordland National Park in the South Island. The experience gives you invaluable time in Doubtful Sound, a remote and awe-inspiring fiord that offers a truly unforgettable journey. Expect deep dark waters lined with towering mountain faces. Explore the fiord aboard a purpose-built vessel and enjoy meals prepared by the onboard chef. Spot wildlife with the help of the onboard nature guides and kayak through the sheltered bays. Doubtful Sound is a destination that is completely breathtaking.

1. Doubtful Sound: A fiord of spectacular beauty

New Zealand is a land of stunning natural beauty, and the Doubtful Sound overnight cruise is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the tranquillity and grandeur of this remote fiord. Unlike its commonly known neighbour, Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound offers a sense of solitude and untouched wilderness that is simply awe-inspiring.

Spanning an impressive 40 kilometres, Doubtful Sound is a fiord with plenty to explore with many arms and coves, pristine water, and majestic mountain faces. As you cruise through its waters, you’ll discover Crooked Arm and Secretary Island set amongst untouched landscapes that seem to stretch into eternity. Aboard, you’ll get to venture all the way out to the Tasman Sea and back again.

2. The Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise Experience

You know your day is going to be fantastic when your accommodation allows you to sleep peacefully in the middle of Fiordland National Park. The RealNZ Doubtful Sound overnight cruise not only lets you visit this remote destination but also spend the night amidst its breathtaking beauty. Imagine watching the sunset over the southwest corner of New Zealand while indulging in a delicious dinner prepared by the onboard chef. The purpose-built vessel, Fiordland Navigator, is your home for the duration of the cruise, providing comfortable accommodation and stunning views from its large viewing decks. Book for either one or two nights and immerse yourself in this remote wonderland.

3. The Vessel: The Fiordland Navigator

The Fiordland Navigator combines comfort and adventure, so you can be an explorer without compromising home comforts. Stepping aboard transports you to a bygone era. This vessel exudes old-world charm reminiscent of traditional New Zealand, with trading scows from the 19th century. Also equipped with spacious viewing decks, a cosy saloon, and comfortable cabins, the Navigator provides you with everything you might need. Whether you want to spend every possible second outdoors or go between the cash bar and the skipper’s wheelhouse, you’ll find your feet aboard. Choose from a private ensuite cabin or a family bunk room and enjoy provided comfy linen and towels while watching the serene fiord through traditional porthole windows.

Check out more information on what to expect on the RealNZ website here.

4. How to get there

The journey to Doubtful Sound begins at Pearl Harbour in Manapouri, which is approximately 30 minutes from Te Anau and 2.5 – 3 hours from Queenstown. Convenient coach connections are available from both Te Anau and Queenstown, ensuring easy access. If you prefer to drive, free parking is available near the RealNZ Visitor Centre in Manapouri, where you can start the relaxing getaway early with a barista coffee from Waiau St Café on the harbourside. The journey includes a cruise across Lake Manapouri and a coach ride over the scenic Wilmot Pass before boarding the Fiordland Navigator at Deep Cove.

For those a little short on time, the Doubtful Sound Wildnerness Day Cruises are a great option.

5. Wildlife Encounters in Fiordland

Doubtful Sound is home to a diverse range of wildlife, and the overnight cruise offers ample opportunities for sightings. Keep your eyes peeled for New Zealand fur seals enjoying the sun, and bottlenose dolphins swimming through the waters. If you’re lucky, you might even catch sight of the rare Fiordland Crested Penguin (tawaki), one of the most elusive penguin species in New Zealand. The knowledgeable nature guides onboard will ensure you don’t miss any of these incredible encounters, and their passion will ensure you won’t forget them. You’ll learn about the conservation efforts from RealNZ and the Department of Conservation, and how you can get involved too.

6. Indulge in Culinary Delights: Onboard Chef

There’s no need to pack snacks for this trip: a highlight of the Doubtful Sound overnight cruise is the culinary experience provided by the onboard chef. Prepare to be treated with a gourmet buffet dinner served in the saloon, while you’re surrounded by awe-inspiring scenes. The onboard cash bar offers a selection of craft beer and local wine to complement your meal. As the night sets in, enjoy a nightcap while marvelling at the starlit sky. Wake up to the aroma of hot coffee and a cooked breakfast, setting the perfect tone for your day in Doubtful Sound. Catch the sunrise from the outdoor viewing deck, a hot cup of coffee in hand.

7. Kayaking in Doubtful Sound

For those seeking further exploration, the Doubtful Sound overnight cruise offers the opportunity to embark on a kayaking adventure. Join the crew as they guide you through the tranquil bay at a leisurely pace, providing insights into the fiord’s unique ecosystem. As you paddle away from the Fiordland Navigator and peer up at cliff faces, you’ll gain a new perspective on the scale of Doubtful Sound. The serene silence you experience as you glide through the water is incredible. If weather conditions permit, this is the perfect way to get closer to nature. If you’re not up to kayaking, you can explore by small boat (tender) that the crew operates, so you don’t miss out.

Learn more about the Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruises here.

This article was created in paid partnership with RealNZ.


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