November 29th, 2014 / posted by paularath
Early morning in Doubtful Sound.  Photo by Jerry Mayfield

View of a peak from Doubtful Sound.                           Photo by Jerry Mayfield

I love fjords. Or fiords, as it’s spelled in New Zealand. Ever since my summer in Norway in 1967, staying in my friend Erik Holtedahl’s holiday home on a fjord, I have been drawn to fjords.

So it’s been a dream of mine to visit a fjord in New Zealand.

Reflections, an artful photo by Jerry Mayfield

Reflections, an artful photo by Jerry Mayfield

We chose Doubtful Sound because we had heard it was the most serene and quiet fjord. It was a brilliant decision. We were often told that Milford Sound is deeper and smaller and more dramatic, but it has many ships – even cruise ships – going into it. Doubtful Sound, on the other hand, has just one: Fiordland Navigator, that spends the night at the most remote point in one of the arms of the fjord.

The Fiordland Navigator, owned by Real Journeys

The Fiordland Navigator carries 60 passengers.

The Fiordland Navigator is operated by Real Journeys, an excellent company owned by a New Zealand family that has been running it for three generations. We highly recommend any adventure offered by Real Journeys. It is authentic, green and dedicated to educating visitors about the flora and fauna of New Zealand.

We had an excellent naturalist on board named Carol who took us out in a little boat (just eight people) and paused all along the shore to show us birds and plant life. We were fortunate to see a Kea bird, the only mountain parrot in the world. This is a fascinating creature with remarkable intelligence; it has the intellect of a six-year-old child.

Naturalist Carol describes the characteristics of Doubtful Sound as we putter along the coast.

Naturalist Carol describes the characteristics of Doubtful Sound as we putter along the coast.

The Navigator also offers the opportunity to kayak in the Sound. And three hearty souls took a plunge and a quick swim in the glacial waters. Whoa! Not for us Hawaii folks.

We cruised out to the Tasman Sea, where tiny islands are home to a plethora of  penguins, sea lions and fur seals. We were taken so close we could almost touch them.

We saw one little penguin fall off a rock and tumble about six feet, quite a fall for a little guy. He seemed a bit stunned, but then picked himself up and started climbing back up the rocks. Whew! We were all so relieved to see he was okay.

Doubtful Sound Beauty

What we loved most about this two-day experience was the quiet and the absolutely pristine environment. We didn’t see another person and the only sounds were birds calling and trees rustling.

In the mist and fog, who can tell up from down?

In the mist and fog, who can tell up from down?

Our days in Doubtful Sound were, in a word, magical.

– Paula Rath

Comments are closed.