Escape to the peace and tranquillity of Doubtful Sound on a magical overnight cruise.
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"Doubtful Sound Trip was Superb"1 June 2019
This was a true pleasure. We took a bus from Queenstown, a boat on Manapouri lake, then another bus to the edge of Doubtful Sound, followed by an overnight cruise in the sound. The sites were magnificent! It rained pretty hard the first day, but the result was an incredible number of waterfalls that disappeared the following day (which was beautiful sunshine). All of the staff (bus, boat, visitors center, etc.) were all very helpful, and made the experience very worthwhile.UserTraveler, Colorado via TripAdvisor
"Overnight on the navigator"6 May 2019
One of the easiest 5/5 to give. The boat trip over the lake was beautiful. The coach journey the other end was enjoyable and the driver with his commentary excellent. The navigator ship was amazing - spacious, everything we needed. The staff were all really friendly and knowledgeable. The food was incredible- so much choice, so delicious and potentially the best soup I have ever tasted. Doubtful itself is beautiful, dolphins came to say hi. We have been truly spoilt and have the biggest smiles on our faces. Thank you real journeys. Probably the highlight of my time in NZ to date.darreno933 via TripAdvisor
"An incredible overnight tour on Doubtful Sound"22 April 2019
I really couldn’t recommend this more highly. The small ferry trip across the lake was scenic enough, as was the coach ride up and over the pass. But the overnight trip on the Sound was so much better. The nature guide (Carol) was excellent and seemed to be on deck giving commentary at all hours of the day or night! Her after dinner talk was worth attending. The scenery is simply awe-inspiring. The kayaking was great fun and one of our kids even took the invitation to jump in for a swim off the back of the boat (apparently it was VERY cold!). Food was excellent and plentiful. Staff were excellent. We stayed in the cheapest accom (4 berth share) and it was very comfortable - even had a little porthole at water level. The sunrise in the morning was stunning and we were lucky enough to have clear skies. We saw plenty of seals at the fjord entrance and even encountered a pod of dolphins on our way back to the dock. Apparently far less busy on the water than Milford, and it certainly felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.Louicacba, Melbourne, Australia via TripAdvisor
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 Mariner 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.
Designed along the lines of a traditional sailing scow, the Wanderer has old world charm combined with modern facilities and the latest safety equipment. After a recent refurbishment, the Wanderer offers 'twin-share' compartments and shared bathroom facilities.
The Fiordland Navigator is a purpose built vessel designed to replicate a traditional trading scow and is perfectly suited to cruising the fiords.
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)