- Real Journeys Visitor Centre, Waiau Street, Pearl Harbour, Manapouri
- Real Journeys Visitor Centre, Lakefront Drive, Te Anau (or pick ups from a selection of accommodation in Te Anau).
This two day adventure connects you with nature in the spectacular wilderness of Doubtful Sound. There is no TV, no phones and no internet. Just you, your small group and your kayaks.
Your itinerary is flexible and route dictated by the weather and your desire to explore. With around 5 hours of kayaking each day, you’ll get to truly appreciate the expanse and primordial beauty of the fiord. Our experienced and knowledgeable guides will make sure you see the best of Fiordland.
As you explore this wilderness, its hidden waterways and secluded islands, look out for the locals – seals, dolphins and penguins. If you’re lucky, you might even find yourself paddling in the company of dolphins!
In the evening you’ll camp amidst the forest next to a fresh water stream in Hall Arm. Relax along the shore as the long southern twilight descends in the fiord. Bring your own food – we’ll supply hot drinks and swap stories with your fellow travellers. And as night descends, lie on the beach and spend some time star gazing.
The next morning, you’ll explore more of the fiord before heading back under sail (weather permitting) by early afternoon.
Doubtful Sound is the second largest of Fiordland National Park’s 14 fiords (Dusky Sound is the largest).
It is three times longer than Milford Sound and it has a sea surface area roughly 10 times larger than Milford Sound due to its greater length and its three arms - Hall, Crooked and First.
Fiordland National Park is a massive wilderness area of rugged snow-capped peaks and luxuriant rainforest. It’s one of the wettest places in the world with high annual rainfall and waterfalls that cascade into the deep fiords. Kayaking within this world heritage area is unbeatable - but often encounters a huge variety of weather. With this in mind, we’ve prepared the following list so you’re ready, whatever the weather.
Please wear your swimsuit or kayaking underwear layer beneath warm clothes/waterproof jacket on pick-up (makes changing into paddling gear easier and quicker). The best way to carry your other gear to the launch point is in a backpack.
On a kayaking trip, you will eat more than usual and there is plenty of storage space on the kayaks. Bring food that is simple but nourishing. Please remove excess packaging and carry food in bags (supermarket cloth bags are ideal).
Sea kayaking and wilderness camping have inherent risks and can be dangerous. In Fiordland, they are characterised by: remoteness, rapidly changing and sometimes extreme weather and water conditions, cold water, limited kayaking landing sites and camping under forest canopy.
Detailed risk management and strict safety procedures are observed, however, there still remains an element of risk. Go Orange cannot absolutely guarantee participants safety. Go Orange accepts its legal responsibilities but cannot be held responsible for personal injury or for loss, theft or damage of/to your equipment outside legal responsibilities. Participants will be required to sign a liability form to this effect before starting a tour.
Changing conditions can mean that tours have to be modified. No two tours are the same. It is very rare but weather could delay your scheduled return by up to 24 hours e.g. road closures or weather conditions preventing kayaking. Clients on guided tours must listen carefully to and follow guides' instructions and adhere to safety requirements. Our reputation depends on your safety – we give it top priority and take it seriously.
Doubtful Sound reaches about 430m at its maximum depth. Near the entrance there are sills where the water is relatively shallow (90m).
The water temperature in the fiord averages a bracing 11 degrees Celsius.
Fiordland, one of the world’s wettest regions. Most of the rain falls on the seaward side of the mountains.
Manapouri village receives 1,143mm a year but over in West Arm the rainfall rises to 3,786mm. Deep Cove receives 5,290mm per year.
Your wilderness experience begins early in the morning with a short road shuttle to Manapouri to board a boat for the 30km journey across stunning Lake Manapouri.
This is followed by a road journey crossing the remote alpine route of Wilmot Pass to Doubtful Sound. On arrival you will change into paddling gear, pack kayaks and be given a full safety briefing and instruction from your experienced guide.
The group then spends 5 - 6 hours kayaking in the midst of Doubtful Sound, alongside the massive glacial landscape, deeply faulted mountainsides, waterfalls and sometimes penguins, fur seals and dolphins. A lunch break is made on an uninhabited beach, surrounded by pristine native rainforest.
On arrival at the camp site, you will set camp. As evening falls, enjoy the company of fellow paddlers as you each prepare your meals in the group shelter and enjoy the surrounding untouched, pure wilderness.
After breakfast we break camp, load the kayaks, then encounter the morning stillness of Hall Arm. The fiords mirrored waters ripple past the kayaks, or in the wet, waterfalls cascade from the mountain sides.
The group paddles to Malaspina Reach and Elizabeth Island before returning early afternoon to Deep Cove, under sail if possible, for pack up and lunch.
The final leg is the journey back across Wilmot Pass and Lake Manapouri by boat and vehicle, allowing you the opportunity to reflect on the beauty of the scenery and the rewarding two-day experience.
Can't recommend this trip enough. We had 2 guides looking after a group of 4. Everything was very well organised - all transport and equipment are provided. The guides Tara and Logan were absolutely fantastic - even though Logan had only just started! Friendly, knowledgeable, passionate about the great outdoors, clear instructions.
Don't forget to bring good insect repellant. And be prepared for a bit of a hike to the start of the bay where you start kayaking and carrying kayaks short distances.
Visited December 2014
Kayaking in the Doubtful Sounds with a great guide and because of being the only kayaking company out there - no tourists!
Reviewed March 2013, 10/10
Anja S, Germany via Rankers
We did the 2-day/1-night kayak in Doubtful Sound. It really is a beautiful area to travel. Our guide was excellent - fun and informative.
Reviewed January 2013
jthurely, Australia via Rankers
We did the 2-day/1-night kayak in Doubtful Sound. It really is a beautiful area to travel. Our guide was excellent - fun and informative. The only issue we had was the sandflies which can't be controlled - though a sandfly free tent has been set up by the tour group for entertainment which was excellent to be able to sit with everyone, chat, eat and have a couple of drinks.
Visited January 2013
This was the part of the trip to NZ that I was most apprehensive about on two counts a) wild camping and b) kayaking in such a large body of warter. I am so glad I did this trip despite a few wobbly (literally in rough water and my fear factor) hours on the first morning as we crossed what were to me quite strong currents. Luke, our guide was great and I forgave him for telling me I had a "scardey face on"! The scenery was breathtaking and so remote , I feel honoured to have visited such a spectacular location.
The journey to get there was part of the whole experience with the boat trip across the lake and coach trip to the Sound. On arrival at the water's edge we were well briefed on the kayaks (two person ones, often referred to as "divorce boats" - I wonder why....) and provided with full kit.
We stopped for lunch after two hours and then enjoyed a very peaceful two hours kayaking down one of the side arms of the Sound, eventually ending up at our camp for the night. The camp was well set up and I actually enjoyed the experience. We were lucky to be with a really great group of people from different parts of the world. Our Australian friends on the trip had it sussed when it came to food and the rest of us had "pasta envy" as we ate our backpackers dried food - yuk. We were on the water very early next morning and spent another four hours kayaking. Sadly the dolphins did not come to see us but I would highly recommend this experience but you do need to be a bit tougher minded than me in terms of sea conditions in order to fully relax.
Visited December 2012
I paddled Doubtful sound with Fiordland Wilderness Adventures on their two day trip. A kayak is a pretty special way to see such a beautiful place. From the top of the Wilmont pass the view down into the fiord we were about to kayak was stunning, later on, there we were on the water taking in the view from the water. Doubtful Sound is far quieter than Milford sound due to it's remote location so there was very little 'human' noise to detract from the experience.
On top of Doubful's scenic beauty we were lucky enough to see Fiordland Crested Penguins and a dolphin and her calf! Kayaking along with just the splash of paddles hitting the water and two dolphins coming up to take a breath isnt a sound or sight Im likely to forget. Our guide was informative and a cheerful, the tents provided were good quality and the sanfly shelter at our camp was a godsend! This trip is ideal for people who like the outdoors and dont mind pitching tents, using thermarests and long drop toilets. If you are a 5 star feather bed type you might not cope with the accomodations or making your own bed and dinner but you are going to miss out on something quite special!
Visited November 2012
Overnight sea kayaking to Doubtful Sound. Had to supply own food. Good fun, well organised, informative, challenging but fine for a fit beginner. Was with a good bunch of people.
Reviewed Febuary 2012, 8/10
Pete & Pat, England (Feb 2012) via Rankers
We had a nice paddle despite the bad weather. Great guide and the company does a good job providing you with the clothes necessary to stay comfortable. I agree with the other reviewer that you should come prepared for the sandflies as they were quite vicious!
Reviewed January 2012
We had to great days with Matt, our Guide, in the Doubtful Sound with kayaking. There is no better way to explore the Doubtful Sound than a Kayak. The silence, the steep mountains and the dark waters make this trip unique. Take a lot of insect repellent with you, there are some black flies out there and be prepared for real bad weather....
Visited November 2011