Doubtful Sound is one of New Zealand’s best-kept secrets, as tourists often tend to visit the more iconic nearby Milford Sound. But if you’re a keen nature lover who appreciates silence and profound nature, who is looking to be enveloped by a feeling of peace in an epic landscape, book yourself on one of Doubtful Sound’s Overnight Cruises immediately. And give yourself as much lead-time as possible as it books out quickly with only limited spots available during the season. Keeping the trips small and limited makes the experience all the more special.
Everyone who goes to Doubtful Sound leaves enchanted, but those who choose to spend a night out on the water will leave forever changed. There are few true wildernesses left in the world, and Fiordland is one of them. With few other boats, no towns or people, and only wildlife for company, there is no phone reception or wifi in this remote corner of Fiordland, which makes it the perfect place for a digital detox. Besides the jaw-dropping scenery, perhaps the first thing you might notice is the silence.
How often do we have the chance for pure silence in this day in age? Bombarded by pings, buzzes, and constant chatter, we rarely get the chance to truly disconnect and find ourselves in nature like this. Doubtful Sound is the deepest and the second biggest of the fiords in Fiordland, accessible only from a boat ride across Lake Manapouri and a bus ride over the wild Wilmot Pass. Remote is an understatement. As you glide across the still dark waters of Doubtful Sound, it feels rather otherworldly and reminiscent of a bygone age
Home to several predator-free islands where some of New Zealand’s great endangered birds are starting to thrive again, the birdsong here is beautiful. It doesn’t take much stretch of the imagination to picture long-lost creatures in Doubtful Sound in the time before humans arrived on these shores. If you’re lucky and have a clear night, you might walk out onto the deck and see millions of stars twinkling above you with the Milky Way reflected in the mirror-like stillness of Doubtful Sound, an experience you might not find anywhere else.
And on an overnight cruise even the biggest night owls like me might convert into a morning person and to wake up to a still and colorful sunrise in Doubtful Sound. Keep your eyes peeled for elusive penguins leaving the shores to go out to sea for the day and for playful dolphins who lurk around every corner. The pure stillness and silence of the early morning on Doubtful Sound is a once in a lifetime experience that will reset your internal clock and change you forever, leaving you with a memory you’ll never forget.