New Zealand
South Island 2019

Doubtful Sound

Our group had a short walk along the Manipouri lakeside to the staging area for the start of the trip. A boat trip down Lake Manipouri lasted about 45 minutes revealing the usual rolling hills and cliffs with rainforest vegetation. We settled in for the day which gave us sunshine and good weather despite the cold winds off the water. Ideal for viewing. We disembarked at a small cove which had been an ammunition supply store during World War Two, protected from prying eyes at sea even though Manipouri has a sea entrance nearby, as most glacial lakes in New Zealand do. Although this seems an amazingly isolated spot for such a base, The Bluff, New Zealand’s main sea port is only about 100 or so nautical miles further down on the south west coast and obviously very vulnerable to attack. We have come across a number of these secret bases, hidden away in our travels in Australia, obviously war planning was intricate, costly and troops supported by back up plans in case of attack or invasion. After 70 years of general European and Asian peace it all seems strange now. We had to be bussed over Wilmot Pass to get to Doubtful Sound. A chatty Maori coach driver told us tall tales and true about the animals and vegetation of the rainforest. A stop at a lookout at the top of the range saw a splendid view down into a deep ravine with yet another glacial lake snaking its way between the hills. And then we arrived and re embarked on Doubtful Sound. A map of the Sound shows it’s a complex web of narrow lakes feeding into the main channel that breaks out to the sea. The narrow walls of the Sound are steep and covered in wet rainforest with waterfalls continuously feeding the system from the high rainfall of the area. Lots of photos as passengers braved the cold winds on the decks. I had taken a lunch box with us and we cowered in the shelter of the saloons to eat it. There were excellent views from the saloons and interesting commentary from the captain and guide. Terry ventured out frequently to take photos. Because the weather was so good the captain took the boat up to the sea entrance , where the Hares’ Ears, a group of rocks that marked the passage in, were seen. A few seals lounged on other rocky outcrops oblivious to the cold. We turned and ventured back along the Sound with a small side trip up one of the feeder lakes. Not much birdlife , but generally a beautiful but desolate location. The trip back reversed the whole process and we arrived back at Possum Lodge around 5pm.