Give in to the wilderness, and escape to the secluded Pātea Doubtful Sound, located in the depths of the Fiordland National Park. Unlike a day cruise, this unique overnight experience completely immerses you in nature. Wake up feeling connected, in harmony, and full of wonder for Aotearoa’s native flora and fauna.
The trip begins on the shore of Lake Manapouri, where you’ll hop onto a vessel to cross over to West Arm. Here, you’ll board our RealNZ coach to cross the scenic Wilmot Pass, before arriving at Doubtful Sound, and your home for the night.
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Doubtful Sound is pristine, unforgettable and out of this world. So get ready to create some lifelong memories as we take you on the ultimate Doubtful Sound experience.
Your itinerary starts with a 45min-1hr cruise across Lake Manapouri, where you’ll hop off at the west arm. A coach then takes you across the Wilmot Pass, where you’ll travel on a sub-alpine road through dense rainforest. Arriving at Deep Cove, you’ll be met by our crew and vessel.
Designed along the lines of a traditional scow, our vessels, The Fiordland Navigator and The Wanderer, blend old-world charm with modern comforts that include spacious viewing decks, dining saloons with fully licensed bars, and observation lounges.
As you cruise through some of New Zealand’s most stunning scenery, our knowledgeable nature guides will provide commentary ensuring you don’t miss a thing, whether you’re encountering a pod of resident dolphins, fur seals or rare penguins.
After dropping anchor in a sheltered cove, you can choose to explore the shoreline by kayak or tender boat, or simply relax onboard. For those looking to refresh, there’s even a chance to go swimming. All activities are weather-dependent.
In the evening, you’ll enjoy a delicious three-course dinner prepared by our onboard chef, served in the dining saloon. Mingle with fellow travellers, try some local wines from our bar, and if the skies are clear, spend some time on the upper deck gazing at the stars.
Kick off the next day with a hearty cooked breakfast or a nourishing continental selection and get ready to explore the other arms of the fiord. Before long, you’ll return to Deep Cove, and take the trip back to Manapouri where you’ll tell the story of your experience in the remote wilderness of New Zealand.
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 30 mins before your departure time.
All our Doubtful Sound experiences start in Manapouri which is around 2.5 – 3 hrs from Queenstown and 30 mins 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 safety. 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.
Our vessel, the Milford Wanderer, is a modern motorised vessel that has been purpose-built for navigating southern New Zealand.
A Wonderful Experience22 October 2023
Absolutely amazing trip. The scenery, the staff, the catering - everything was just first class. Real NZ are extremely professional and well organised - everyone of their staff we met was professional, friendly and very knowledgeable. Truly an experience we won’t forgetTony P, Via TripAdvisor
An unforgettable experience19 October 2023
This was such a wonderful experience from start to finish so, if you get a chance to do it, we would thoroughly recommend it. We were also so impressed with RealNZ. The trip organisation worked like clockwork and every one of the staff we met, from drivers to the crew, were great. Thanks especially to our principal driver, Paulie (it isn’t really fair to single any one person out but he was just so nice and helpful). As for the cruise, the environment speaks for itself and is magical but the transfers, ship, fabulous food (lots of it) and comfortable cabins helped make this an unforgettable trip during our trip to NZ.Gillrj, Via TripAdvisor
Off the grid and loved it!13 June 2023
We did a two night cruise on Doubtful Sound which was amazing. The food, staff, services were first class, and our cabin was just as fabulous as a hotel room. Beautiful crisp linen; fabulous shower and perfectly comfortable.Blincs, Via TripAdvisor
I can't recommend this cruise highly enough, and everyone on board just loved their time on the water. The photographic opportunities were fantastic. This is an experience not to be missed.
Fabulous25 March 2023
We had gorgeous weather the entire cruise. We had magnificent views and sunsets on both evenings. Other travelers took kayaks out or went for a ride on smaller boats on Saturday. We stayed on board to relax, as we were recovering from hiking the Milford Track just prior to the cruise. Food was excellent, and we enjoyed the people we met on the cruise. We saw the pod of dolphins that lives in the Sound, and some seals. We enjoyed the educational talks in the after-dinner talks by the naturalist on board. We loved our room, it was very comfortable. Highly recommend!!T R, Via TripAdvisor
Brilliant in every respect21 March 2023
Sue F, Via Trip Advisor
This was such a well organised, professionally run experience. All the staff were well trained, worked as a team, were friendly and so knowledgeable. The whole operation with all the transfers ran like clockwork. The accommodation was comfortable (we had a double ensuite cabin). Food and communal areas very good. The onboard naturalist kept up the commentary all the time we were sailing, making it so interesting. Scenery was stunning - would recommend this to anyone.
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.
Overnight Cruises and Quadshare - We are a group of three people and would like to book a shared quad-share room. Will this mean we would be sharing with another person?
Yes, you could potentially be sharing with another guest. Alternatively you could choose to pay for the entire quad cabin, or two double cabins, to ensure privacy. If you wish to pay for an entire quad cabin, please contact us directly.
Note: quad-share cabins are mixed gender.
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.
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)
Yes, dietary requirements can be catered for. Please provide detailed information regarding your dietary requirements when making a booking.
There is a possibility that you might share a quad room with other customers, and it’s important to note these rooms are equipped with a curtain partition instead of a door. Please be aware of this configuration when booking and please contact us if you need further clarification.
When we are informed in advance about guests with hindered mobility, we make every effort to mitigate the impact by assigning rooms in proximity to the main areas. However, it’s important to note that our vessels are not optimally equipped for potential needs. While we extend a warm welcome to individuals with impaired mobility, all our vessel’s doorways feature a sea sill, there are no ramps within the boat, and a flight of stairs separates rooms from the main saloon.