Escape to the peace and tranquillity of Doubtful Sound on a magical overnight cruise.
Doubtful Sound is unspoiled, unmatched and unforgettable. So get ready to create some lifelong memories as the we take you on the ultimate Doubtful Sound experience.
Your itinerary starts in Manapouri with a short cruise across Lake Manapouri. A coach then takes you across Wilmot Pass, travelling on a sub-alpine road through dense rainforest. Arriving at Deep Cove, you’ll be met by our crew and the majestic Mariner vessel.
Designed along the lines of a traditional scow, the Fiordland Navigator blends old world charm with modern comforts that include spacious viewing decks, a dining saloon with a fully licensed bar and an observation lounge.
As you cruise through some of New Zealand’s most stunning scenery, our knowledgeable nature guides will provide commentary ensuring you miss nothing, be it the pod of resident dolphins, fur seals or rare penguins you might encounter.
After dropping anchor in a sheltered cove, you can choose to explore the shoreline by kayak or tender boat – or to simply relax onboard. For the adventurous (or very brave), there’s even a chance to go swimming. All activities are weather dependent.
In the evening, you’ll enjoy a delicious three-course buffet dinner prepared by our onboard chef, served in the dining saloon. Mingle with fellow travellers, savour some of the fine wines at our licensed bar and if the skies are clear in the evening, spend some time on the upper deck gazing at the stars.
Kick off the next day with a hearty cooked breakfast and get ready to enjoy the rest of the morning exploring other parts of the fiord. Finally, you’ll return to Deep Cove, the trip back to Manapouri and many, many conversations telling friends just how amazing your trip was.
Things you should know:
The trip leaves Pearl Harbour, Manapouri at 12.30pm and returns 12pm the following day.
You are required to check-in at the RealNZ Visitor Centre 30min before your departure time.
All our Doubtful Sound experiences start in Manapouri which is around 2.5 – 3 hours from Queenstown and 30 minutes from Te Anau. Our Manapouri Visitor Centre is located at 64 Waiau Street.
Free parking is available in Manapouri.
Only one carry-on bag is recommended for passenger convenience and for safety reasons. Don't forget the following:
*Essential items if you are doing activities. Activities take place even if it is raining.
The Fiordland Navigator is a purpose built vessel designed to replicate a traditional trading scow and is perfectly suited to cruising the fiords.
Unforgettable Experience at Doubtful Sound19 October 2022
Definitely one of my main highlights to New Zealand. So glad I decided to take the overnight cruise with Real Journeys because there's just so much to explore at Doubtful Sounds. The crew on Fiordland Navigator was so knowledgeable and friendly, we saw so many different kinds of wildlife - Dolphins, Penguins, Fur Seals and even a WHALE! Was really a once in a lifetime experience for me. I even had the chance to kayak for the first time. My parents also enjoyed the small boat tour. I really like the fact that they cater to different needs of different age group. The food was great and the cruise was very clean. The 'sound of silence' experience was a great one for us city dwellers! 100% would recommend this tour and I would love to do it again another time!S4518BPjunec, Singapore, Via TripAdvisor
Smitten by Doubtful Sound24 August 2022
This was going to be a great trip going into it, but it far exceeded my expectations. Mum and I travelled with RealNZ on the Fiordland Navigator for the 2-night cruise. Our cabin was neat and tidy, the beds were comfy and snuggly, and we had our own bathroom with toilet, basin, and shower. The tour guide was incredibly knowledgeable about geology, flora, and fauna. He was quick to point out surprise visitors from seals, dolphins, and seabirds and seemed to always know when we'd have questions and would be on hand to ask. His presentations were really interesting and not at all like a school lesson, with photos of things I could have only imagined until I saw them. The food was incredible thanks to Fir, the chef. Everything was fresh, and flavourful, and there was such an incredible range of goodies to eat that we really felt spoiled. The staff were professional and gelled well as a team - they were a pleasure to be around. The star of the show was undoubtedly Doubtful Sound. There was so much stunning scenery that it was impossible to fit it all into my camera. It was such a great trip that I would love to do it again one day.vwilliamskiwi, Via TripAdvisor
Stunning experience on RealNZ 2 night cruise Doubtful Sound.24 August 2022
We did the two night cruise which was fantastic. Two nights gives you a bit of time to explore different parts of the fiord and see more wildlife. The cruise was very well organised by RealNZ. All the staff were excellent and we got very interested commentary from Divesh. He also gave us an interesting evening talk both evenings, with his personal experiences adding interest. My granddaughter said we should only give the cruise 4 stars. Why? Because there was too much food! It was certainly a bit overwhelming to have so many excellent choices in the buffet! I asked about vegetarians for my daughter's family when I booked, but should have asked for vegan. But I didn't need to worry - they had vegan options. Of course you should specify what you need to be sure to get what you want. The scenery is spectacular. Breathtaking. An experience of a lifetime. RealNZ have done a great job of making it possible for us to experience this place.Heather M, Wellington, New Zealand, Via TripAdvisor
Great trip on Doubtful Sound10 October 2022
We did the overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound and it was fantastic. The crew was great and Courtney, our nature guide very knowledgeable and informative. Great food and comfy cabins. The Sound is wonderful. Mind-blowing spectacular and we were lucky enough to see a whale, dolphins and fur seals. Highly recommended.J0vip London, United Kingdom, Via TripAdvisor
RealNZ Doubtful Sound overnight cruise25 February 2022
We absolutely loved our Doubtful Sound overnight cruise with Real NZ and thoroughly recommend this trip. From beginning to end, across Lake Manapouri with skipper Ian and crew Karen who were friendly, knowledgeable and helpful, to bus driver Reynold who expertly navigated us across the beautiful Wilmot Pass with funny antidotes along the way.katony1234 Invercargill, New Zealand, Via TripAdvisor
We were greeted by Skipper Blake and Katie's crew who welcomed us aboard and could not have been more helpful. The food was sensational, thank you Fir. The service, cleanliness and professionalism from everyone was superb from beginning to end. Enjoyed Div's wonderful slide show and endless knowledge about the area. This experience is a must do on anyone's bucket list. Recommend +++
In case you haven't found the information you were looking for, we've put together some of the most common questions our customers ask about our trips. If you need more specific answers, please contact us directly.
From Queenstown to Manapouri by car or coach takes around 2 hrs 45 mins and from Te Anau around 30 minutes. For more information refer to our Driving Times webpage.
Yes, we have plenty of free parking at Manapouri. Daytime car parking is provided adjacent to the Visitor Centre. Overnight car parking is a available on View St, a short 2 minute walk from our Manapouri Visitor Centre.
Yes, bedding and towels are provided to all guests.
A double room is a private room for two people, with one bed to share. A twin room is a private room for two people, with two single beds.
Milford Sound at the mountainous north end of Fiordland National Park is the classic fiord - a deep water inlet between steep sided high mountains. Milford Sound is a middle-sized fiord at around 13 kms in length and it is famous for its dramatic scenery, especially Mitre Peak. This fiord is the most accessible of Fiordland National Park’s 14 fiords and it can be reached by bus, car or flight connections from Queenstown.
Doubtful Sound is located in the heart of Fiordland National Park where the mountains are still very impressive but not as high as Milford Sound. Doubtful Sound is three times longer and has a sea surface area roughly ten times larger than Milford Sound. Its three arms are Hall, Crooked and First Arm. It is famous for its wilderness scenery and wildlife sightings. To get to Doubtful Sound visitors first take a launch trip across Lake Manapouri and drive over Wilmot Pass.
Visitors with enough time choose to visit both fiords as they have different characters.
Fiordland’s weather is what gives the region its unique character. Rainfall is what makes Fiordland a land of lakes, rivers, streams, waterfalls and fiords. Visitors should always be prepared to enjoy some rainfall during their stay. It is recommended to bring sensible clothing for cool and wet weather to fully appreciate your stay.
The temperatures you can expect in the different seasons are as follows:
Many say you have not seen Fiordland unless you have seen it in the rain. When it rains in Fiordland the landscape is dramatic - rock faces stream with waterfalls, mist hangs around the tops of the mountains and rivers and streams rage. From a dry comfortable vantage point on the bus or boat, this landscape is spectacular for sightseeing.
We recommend each passenger brings no more than a carry-on sized bag due to space restrictions in the cabins. For a list of what to bring please see the 'more info' section or your booking confirmation.
Yes, there is very limited luggage storage available in the waiting area at our Manapouri Visitor Centre for our overnight cruise passengers (maximum one bag only per person).
While we cannot guarantee you will see wildlife, sightings of fur seals are reasonably common in both Doubtful and Milford Sounds. A pod of bottlenose dolphins resides in Doubtful Sound so you have a good chance of seeing these fascinating mammals, and in Milford Sound dolphins are occasional visitors. In both sounds the rare Fiordland crested penguin can at times be observed.
Throughout Fiordland the fiords are officially mapped as sounds. Strictly speaking, they should be called fiords.
A fiord is a glaciated valley - typically narrow and steep-sided - that has been flooded by the sea after the glacier’s retreat. A sound, on the other hand, is a river valley flooded by the sea following a rise in sea levels or depression of the land, or a combination of both.
The Manapouri Underground Power Station visit is CLOSED indefinitely due to maintenance by operators Meridian Energy. We are not permitted to access the Power Station for tours during this time. The Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise tour will still operate without the visit underground to the Powerstation.
All prices and transactions on the RealNZ website are in New Zealand dollars (NZD). This is specified on the Terms & Conditions page.
Our staff are trained to deal with incidents and in case of an emergency you should listen to their instructions.
We have a portable defibrillator on each of our overnight cruise vessels (Milford Mariner, Milford Wanderer and Fiordland Navigator).
In addition to this we also have portable defibrillators at the following locations:
• Milford Sound Visitor Terminal
• RealNZ Visitor Centre, Manapouri
• Cavern House (Te Anau Glowworm Caves)
• Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant, Walter Peak
• TSS Earnslaw Vintage Steamship
• Stewart Island Ferry (Bluff - Oban - Bluff)