2 out of 3 Days Rain – Sounds Doubtful! (Day 105)
Another incredible day, wildlife, glaciers, stone castles and nutty Germans - what more could we wish for....but we could have easily missed it all!
Just as we were going to bed Tim checked with me what time we needed to leave in the morning. 8am I answered, to get to Manapouri ready for the 10:30am boat. He checked the email for the exact location. Erm…good job he did. Somehow I’d mistakenly booked the 8am boat! Whaa – that meant we needed to get up at 5am. We are not early birds!
We left on time and drove in the dark and thick fog, still managing to get to our destination in time. A lovely sail over the Manapouri Lake where parts of Jurassic Park was nearly filmed. Sadly after three months of waiting for the rain to stop, the film crew gave up and went elsewhere.
At the Hydroelectric Power Station, we disembarked and climbed onto a coach to take us across the mountain range to Doubtful Sound along the most expensive road in New Zealand. This was built in the 60s to transport materials for the power station, it was supposed to take 1 year to build, but took 2 years at a cost of NZ$2 per centimetre!
Along the journey our driver Eve was very informative, and shared that 2 out of 3 days it rains. Luckily we were having the right 33% - beautiful clear blue skies.
We got on the boat for our trip along Doubtful Sound. We were in awe of these majestic mountains formed by ice melting 14 thousand years ago. The name originated from Captain Cook, who when passing the inlet refused to sail into the harbour as there was only a westerly wind and it would have been doubtful if he could sail the big ship out. He wrote on the map “doubtful” and this got misinterpreted as the name. The other misinterpretation is that the Doubtful Sound is not a sound (which is a narrow inlet), but it is a fiord. So instead of changing the name of Doubtful, Milford and others, the region has been called Fiordland.
The waters were so calm that we managed to get further out into Tasman Sea and were luckily enough to first see a couple of blue penguins bobbing along, New Zealand fur seals basking on a large rock and then the young guide got very excited as we then saw 2…no 3…ah 4 Fiordland Crested Penguins hopping along a boulder. So cute! We turned back into Doubtful Sound and she got excited again. Dolphins. No-one could see them. Was it just some timber on the surface? No, she was right. 2 Dolphins passed by. We turned the corner to see a load of splashing by the shoreline – a pod of Dolphins. How fantastic! Different to what we saw in Kaikura, these were Bottlenose Dolphins, sleek and agile – absolute beauties.
The journey really was magical, I am so glad that people recommended Doubtful Sound rather than the more touristy Milford Sound. The Maori call it Patea which translated means “The place of silence”. Very apt. It has a great stillness about the area, calm, peaceful and magnificent…. In fact breath-taking. And Tim’s favourite area was travelling up the Hall Arm; an imposing sheer face of rock that was taller than 3 empire state buildings on top of one another that cut into the water.
On our way back we chatted to two great guys from Cologne. They had massive, impressive cameras and showed us some of the photos they captured of the Penguins and Dolphins. Wow- so clear up close – sorry, ours are not to their standard. We chatted about many things, travelling and cars. One of the guys, Roland, is really into his cars, and used to have a very flashy Audi RS6 that cost an arm and a leg in fuel and ended up being stolen by drug dealers and torched. He was a very funny guy.
We got to our campsite (another night in Keith the car), the weather was stunning, so walked down to the beach of the lake. Tim had a swim, skimmed some stones and as there wasn’t enough sand, instead of building sand castles (he is renowned for building these) we built stone castles. Impressive eh!
Another amazing day – we had no doubt it would be and were very fortunate with the weather…I wonder what tomorrow will bring?