Today we were awake well before sunrise and had a delicious hot English breakfast in the dark. With our backpacks full of scarves, beanies and jumpers, we were ready for our full day outing to Doubtful Sound. Doubtful Sound is part of the Fiordland National Park and has a landscape described as the best modern example of Gondwana. It was a 2 hour drive to Manapouri where we met with other travelers and boarded our boat ride to Wilmot Pass. Our boat ride was along Lake Manapouri and passed the Manapouri Power Station that powers a large aluminium smelter 160km away. The power station was built in the 1960's and is 10km into solid rock within one of the mountain peaks. It requires 510 cubic metres of water per second.
When we arrived at Wilmot Pass, we then had a 45 minute bus ride to Doubtful Sound. It is the only stretch of road in NZ that is not connected to any other road and is the most expensive road built in NZ with a cost of $2 per centimetre. The road was initially built to get machinery to the power station but since it's completion, it is for tourist use.
Doubtful Sound gets its name from Captain James Cook in 1770 when he called it a “Doubtful Harbour” to sail in as it appeared to not have any wind. It took a further 23 years to 1793 when Felipe Bauza visited and thoroughly charted the geography of the land. Doubtful Sound has one the highest rainfalls in the world with a whopping 7-9 metres falling on an average of 200 days. When we got to our beautiful boat within the fiord, we had a lovely cruise for 3 hours from Deep Cove out to Secretary Island. Along the way, we had fur seals diving down into the water in search of fish and two pods of bottlenose dolphins. It was very rare to see so many dolphins that even the crew were getting in on the photo taking! The last time dolphins were in the fiord was two weeks ago and there were only a few of them!
When rain hits these mountain peaks, it filters down through the many different lichens and moss so when it reaches the bottom, it is 99.8% pure. The trees that flourish on each peak have very superficial and fragile root systems that are intertwined with the other tree's as a lot of the mountains are solid granite. If a tree loses it stability, it falls and causes tree avalanches which is a natural phenomenon and the leftover soul will eventually regenerate after 100-150 years.
We reached Secretary Island out near the Tasman Sea and the captain turned off the engines so we were floating in pure silence. All we could hear were the birds within the trees, not even a ripple of water could be seen. It was the most tranquil experience I've ever had. The water was so still, it almost created a perfect reflection.
We soon finished our journey and made the bus and following boat trip back to Manapouri. We estimated that we would arrive back in Queenstown at 8pm.
We had dinner at a seafood/grill restaurant. I had vegetarian risotto and it was super filling and delicious! At 9.30pm we were exhausted!