Escape to the peace and tranquillity of Doubtful Sound on a magical overnight cruise.
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.
Doubtful Sound is unspoiled, unmatched and unforgettable. So get ready to create some lifelong memories as the Fiordland Navigator takes you through the ultimate Doubtful Sound experience.
Your getaway 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 Fiordland Navigator.
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 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 on board. For the adventurous (or very brave), there’s even a chance to go swimming.
In the evening, you’ll enjoy a delicious three-course buffet dinner prepared by our on-board chef and 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:
All our Doubtful Sound experiences start in Manapouri which is around 2.5 – 3 hours from Queenstown and 30 minutes from Te Anau.
You can drive there yourself, or if you’d much rather relax and let us do the driving, we offer coach connections from Queenstown and Te Anau.
Our coach drivers are extremely knowledgeable about the area, its history and local flora and fauna and will provide you with informative commentary along the way.
Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruises depart from the Real Journeys Visitor Centre, Manapouri
Coach and Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise Excursions depart from Real Journeys Visitor Centres as follows:
If you choose an accommodation pick up in Te Anau and Queenstown please note that these times do vary from those noted above - accommodation pick up times are shown during the booking process and also on your booking confirmation.
Only one overnight 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.
Adult $19, Child $19 (1 Oct 2017 - 30 Sep 2018)
Turkish Bread - fillings including a combination of Lettuce, Cucumber, Beef, Swiss Cheese, Alpha Sprouts, Mayonnaise, Apricot & Capsicum Chutney; Honey Muesli Slice; Cheese and Crackers; Apple; Grapes; After Dinner Mint; Complimentary Tea and Coffee.
Adult $26, Child $26 (1 Nov 2016 - 30 Sep 2018)
Bread roll- fillings including a combination of Lettuce, Cucumber, Beef, Swiss Cheese, Alpha Sprouts, Mayonnaise, Apricot & Capsicum Chutney; Croissant with Ham & Swiss Cheese & Aioli; Apricot & Coconut Slice and Chocolate Muesli Brownie; Cheese and Crackers; Apple; Grapes; Dried Fruit/Nut Mix (Trail mix); After Dinner Mint; Complimentary Tea and Coffee.
Please note: If you require a vegetarian lunch, or if you have any special dietary needs please add this into the comments box during the booking process. Please order your lunch when you make your booking. Lunches to be picked up at the Manapouri Visitor Centre prior to boarding the vessel. Lunch menus are indicative only.
The Fiordland Navigator is a purpose built vessel designed to replicate a traditional trading scow and is perfectly suited to cruising the fiords.
11 November 2015
We did the overnight cruise in doubtful sound - research suggested it was just as good as Milford but much quieter. The journey there is part of the experience:
bus to Manipouri, boat across the lake, bus to the top of the sound, boat on the sound. It all went like clockwork and the scenery, especially over wilmot pass,
was awesome. The boat was very comfortable, food was great and we were lucky enough to see a whale. The commentary from the coach and boat drivers and the naturalist on the boat were superb. Hats off guys.
But the best bit? When motors and generators on the boat were turned off for 10 minutes and everyone was asked to sit and enjoy the silence. You could hear the waterfalls, the birds, the bush. Brilliant.
Visited November 2015
6 November 2015
We had a fantastic time cruising the spectacular sound with great food and drinks. The on board, bus driver and all staff help and commentary was really good too. We saw great wildlife including whales and awesome scenery. Just a pity they let other tourists in too!
Visited November 2015
14 October 2015
This review is for the Doubtful Sound overnight trip. My friend and I were planning to do a day trip to Milford Sound, but when we were chatting to staff at our hostel we discovered that the Doubtful trip was on sale and meant to be great.
We went ahead with it and couldn't have been happier with our decision. The staff at Real Journeys were phenomenal to deal with from start to finish. All of the crew on the boat were knowledgeable and friendly. Carol was a wealth of knowledge and really helped make the experience immersive with all of the details she shared. The food was amazing - I'll admit that I had low expectations when I heard there was a buffet dinner since I find those kinds of mass produced meals to usually be underwhelming, but the food Stefan and his team prepared was amazing. Since we were traveling and staying hostels we had been cooking most of our meals, so this was such a treat. The chance to kayak in the fjord was unreal - so serene to be out there in the water.
The only thing I'd change about the trip would have been to find a way to make it longer!
Visited October 2015
29 October 2015
I have had the pleasure of previously doing a day trip (1990), overnight (2007) and the overnight again this week. Just an amazing tour company to tour with.
Doubtful Sound undoubtably surpasses Milford Sound that I have also done day trip on. The buffet dinner and breakfast were superb and the crew exceptional.
Sim's knowledge of the environment is exceptional. Thank you all.
Visited October 2015
20 November 2014
A once in a life time trip! Overnight cruise. Doubtful Sound is a truly beautiful place, everywhere you turn there is an incredible view.
Apart from the Navigator there was only one other boat on the Fiord, a much more peaceful & exclusive experience compared to Milford Sound which can get very busy with tour operators.
The food was beautiful, the accommodation unique & comfortable. Transfers between land and water were efficient whilst remaining enjoyable, learning about Fiordland National Park from the running commentary. All staff were fantastic & a credit to Real Journeys.
Visited November 2014
8 October 2014
Went for the Doubtful Sound overnight cruise with Real Journey. The boat had great facilities and was very comfortable. The staff was very friendly and looked like they enjoyed helping us discover the sound. Doubtful is mesmerising, bigger and more impressive than Milford Sound and yet as fewer people visit there is a real feeling of tranquillity and remoteness. The wildlife is incredible and you usually get to observe dolphins and seals. There is an option to go kayaking which is a great to explore the shores more closely. The dinner served was also delicious and the boat has a bar to enjoy in the evening. Overall it was one of the best thing I have done in New Zealand.
Visited September 2014
7 January 2014
We chose to do the overnight trip on Doubtful Sound. It was a very memorable experience. There had been plenty or rain before we arrived but cleared up later which meant we got to see gorgeous scenery and waterfalls. Did the kayaking which was fun. The staff were brilliant and enthusiastic. We were lucky to see plenty of wildlife - hump back whales, dolphins, penguins, albatross, seals and lots of birds. The cabins were nice and clean. The food on board was excellent. We love the 5 minutes of complete silence. A really memorable experience would highly recommend.
Visited November 2013
21 January 2014
i had previously done the milford sound overnight trip and totally loved it and had been on day trip in doubtful sound.i think the best way to see the sounds are on an overnight trip.its so much more relaxed and you get to do activities on the water when you moor in a beautiful sheltered cove for the night.first you leave pearl harbour in manapouri and cross the lake which is beautiful,then at the end of the lake where the underground power station is you board a bus over the divide to the wharf.its beautiful if theres snow up there in the mountains.once on the fiordland navigator you start cruising doubtful sound.the staff are very knowledgeable and make it really interesting.they sail out towards the tasman sea and if conditions are condusive the raise the sails and sail out to see and back.then they cruise to the mooring spot and you get to choose from varied water activities for the next couple of hours.the smorgasbord dinner is fantastic!!!!they have games on board and books to read .they also show a commentary film which is great.the morning brings a smorgasbord brekky as well.what a beautiful trip.having done both the sounds with real journey overnight cruises ,i couldnt pick the better one of the 2 because they are both different and equally as amazing.
Visited September 2013
28 April 2013
Overnight cruise and kayaking in Doubtful Sound. All perfectly organized, super friendly helpful staff, the best buffet I've had in New Zealand! The naturist had all the info, the Captain was so friendly and easy to talk to. I chose the shared 4 bed cabin. Plenty of space and comfortable. Besides the mindblowing kayak experience, waking up in the still waters of Doubtful Sound and watching the sun rise through the mist was something I'll never forget. Including the boat ride across Lake Manapouri, and the bus ride over the pass to get to Doubtful, the staff were always entertaining and teaching along the way. Not a single complaint. Well done Real Journeys!
Visited April 2013
19 April 2013
We did an overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound after 2 weeks in a camper van with 2 teenagers in April 2 years ago but thought it was a real highlight of our trip and I should recommend it. The collection point in Te Anau was easy and we felt comfortable leaving our camper there. The journey started with a small boat trip, then a coach ride before we got to the boat. The boat was more than comfortable and we had a bunk style room for the 4 of us with a shared bathroom. Food was incredible and always plenty. The weather was beautiful and sunny one day and the next was raining so we got to see the best of both worlds with amazing reflections and then waterfalls flowing. The canoeing was great to get up close to the bank, swimming off the back deck if you could stand the water temp. A trip well worth the $. Highly recommended - Real Journeys.
Visited April 2013
Ingrid08_11 Canberra, Australia via TripAdvisor
16 February 2013
We had (as part of our holiday package) booked the overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound. The first part was a boat transfer from the wharf at Manapouri to the power station on the West Arm of Lake Manapouri. After this 1-hour ride, we transferred to a bus for the ride over Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove (at the start of Doubtful Sound). The bus driver was very informative on the 45-minute journey. We boarded the boat at Deep Cove for our overnight cruise. Part way along, we had the choice of kayaking or going on a tender for a quick explore of the water's edge. I chose the latter since it was led by an experienced guide who was providing natural history information. The food on the boat was really good (and plentiful); the cabin was comfortable (not huge, but the boat isn't very big). We would recommend this trip to anyone.
Visited January 2013
11 January 2012
From the moment we were picked up from our hotel accommodation till we reached our destination at Manapouri we were blown away. The informative, excellent coach driver. the the welcoming staff on the boat, the coach driver from Manapouri to Fiordland, to the welcoming staff when joining the boat we can't speak more highly of. What a memorable trip. We would recommended this trip to anyone.
Visited January 2012
Sillyshoes, New Zealand via TripAdvisor
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.
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 road (coach or car) or by 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 travel to Doubtful Sound visitors first take a launch trip across Lake Manapouri and coach over Wilmot Pass.
Visitors with enough time choose to experience both fiords as they have different characters.
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 by email, by phone or via webchat.
Note: quad-share cabins are mixed gender.
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.
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 board the coach or vessel this landscape is spectacular.
If you have booked a coach and cruise to Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound our coaches pick up from most accommodation in Queenstown and Te Anau. When booking either from our website or directly with our staff, please let us know if you want to be picked up from your accommodation or from our Visitor Centre.
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.
From Queenstown to Te Anau by car or coach takes around 2 hrs 45 mins and from Manapouri around 30 minutes. For more information refer to our Driving Times webpage.
Whilst parking in and around Te Anau is safe, we cannot guarantee this. 'Safer Parking' offers paid secure day-night parking for customers who wish to ensure their valuables are safe. Please visit the Safer Parking website to find out more details for rates, information, etc. Real Journeys coaches do collect customers from Safer Parking - simply select this option when booking your excursion from Te Anau.
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.
Overnight car parking is 950m from the Manapouri Visitor Centre and daytime car parking is provided adjacent to the Visitor centre.
Yes, there is very limited luggage storage available at the Manapouri Visitor Centre for our overnight cruise passengers (maximum one bag only per person).
Access is not always possible as it is a working power station. However due to ongoing maintenance the Manapouri Underground Power Station is currently CLOSED and re-opening date is yet to be confirmed. Next update October 2018.
Most people choose to visit the power station as it is very interesting. For those who choose not to visit the power station* there is the option of staying longer in the informative West Arm Visitor Centre. *Due to ongoing maintenance the Manapouri Underground Power Station is currently CLOSED and re-opening date is yet to be confirmed. Next update October 2018.
All prices and transactions on the Real Journeys 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 board 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
• Real Journeys 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).