I’m in Fiordland!
Fiordland National Park in the south-western corner of New Zealand was established in 1952 and covers an area of 1,260,740 hectares. Wont be so easy to easy it all! Most of the area is dominated by the Southern Alps, deep lakes, steep valleys and it’s wet – very wet. The official number is 6,300mm of rainfall per year. In numbers I could better understand, it rains 2 days out of every three around here. It’s most famous fiord is Milford Sound which I am still to see, instead I have decided to start with another one Doubtful Sound.
Doubtful Sound is a little tricky to access, so it was time to give up the hikes and relax a while on a fantastic boat. I signed up for my first tour since I have been here. Not usually a fan of such things but this turned out to be fantastic. I learned a lot and met some great people also which always helps.
A little background for you…….”Doubtful Sound was named ‘Doubtful Harbour’ in 1770 by Captain Cook who did not enter the inlet as he was uncertain whether it was navigable under sail. It was later renamed Doubtful Sound, although it is not technically a sound but a fiord.” I also liked these thoughts from Charles Lyttelton, Governor-General of NZ 1967-’62 who wrote……..
“There are just a few areas left in the world where no human has ever set foot. That one of them should be in a country so civilized and so advanced as New Zealand may seem incredible, unless one has visited the south-west corner of the South Island. Jagged razor backed mountains rear their heads into the sky. More than 200 days of rain a year ensure not a tree branch is left bare and brown, moss and epiphytes drape every nook. The forest is intensely green. This is big country… one day peaceful, a study in green and blue, the next melancholy and misty, with low cloud veiling the tops… an awesome place, with its granite precipices, its hanging valleys, its earthquake faults and its thundering cascades.”
The tour ran across 2 days, starting by crossing Lake Manapouri to access the Wilmont Pass which we were bused across to our waiting boat the Fiordland Navigator in Doubtful Sound. Then it was all about cruising around the different arms within. We didn’t see another boat the whole time we were there. Instead we saw dolphins, seals and mountains climbing out of the water some over a kilometre high. Hard to get scale but hopefully the photos will give you an appreciation for the beauty of the place.
As for the boat, well they have an open door policy to the wheelhouse. The heavy tea drinking captain even gave me a tutorial on sea navigation. Happy days, although I hope I never have to rely on my new ‘skills’