Experience the spectacular, remote wilderness of Doubtful Sound on our guided day trip. Journey across Lake Manapouri, over the breathtaking Wilmot Pass and into the heart of Fiordland National Park. This is a must-do for nature lovers and explorers alike.
Duration: 7 hours
Start with a cruise across Lake Manapouri, followed by a coach trip over the epic Wilmot Pass through Fiordland’s rainforest and into the Sound.
A 3-hour cruise through the waterways of Doubtful Sound
Cruise onboard the Patea Explorer (Fiordland Navigator or M.V. Sinbad may substitute)
Commentary by our knowledgeable onboard nature guide
Wildlife viewing, including dolphins, fur seals and even occasionally penguins
Snacks and drinks available for purchase (cash only). We recommend you bring your own packed lunch.
Doubtful Sound is a beautiful fiord; three times longer than Milford Sound, with twisting arms, it has a surface area ten times larger. With its rugged peaks, verdant rainforest and twisting, hidden inlets, Doubtful Sound will take your breath away.
There’s no direct road access, so the only way you can to get to Doubtful Sound is a cruise across the picturesque Lake Manapouri, followed by a bus trip over Wilmot Pass - New Zealand's most expensive (and majestic) road. We’ll pause along the way to experience the dense Fiordland rainforest and view Doubtful Sound glistening below. This isolation makes this fiord a very special place, only those in the know get to see.
Once you arrive, you will board the Patea Explorer for a 3 hour (approximately) cruise on Doubtful Sound - a spectacular pristine fiord. During the cruise our knowledgeable and friendly nature guides will share with you their passion for the region. They’re always ready to answer questions, point out landmarks and provide all the information about the varied wildlife you may see, including dolphins, fur seals and the rare Fiordland crested penguin.
The M.V. Sinbad or Fiordland Navigator may replace the Patea Explorer if maintenance or schedules require.
Things you should know
You’ll cruise across crystal clear Lake Manapouri to West Arm
A highlight is the coach trip through Fiordland’s rainforest and over Wilmot Pass
Our dedicated nature guide will let you know all about the region's flora and fauna
Snacks are also available on board to purchase (cash only)
Complimentary tea and coffee is available
Licensed bar on board (extra cost, cash only)
The tour is suitable for all ages
All our Doubtful Sound experiences start in Manapouri which is around 2.5 – 3 hours from Queenstown and 30 minutes from Te Anau.
"We did the doubtful day tour, I was totally blown away of the Beauty of this place, the tour itself was very comfortable and informative, real journeys are professional with very friendly staff. Would definitely do the trip again!"
We understand that travelling with children can be expensive, which is why we offer ‘Kids Go Free’ specials including a cruise on Lake Wakatipu on steamship TSS Earnslaw, Walter Peak Farm Tours, Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, Stewart Island and more.
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.
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How long does it take to travel to Manapouri?
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.
Is there car parking at Manapouri?
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.
What is the difference between Milford and Doubtful Sounds?
Our places. Our experiences. Milford and Doubtful Sounds, NZ.
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.
What weather can I expect in Fiordland?
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:
Spring (September-November) 10-19 Celsius / 50- 66 Fahrenheit
Is it worth going to Milford/Doubtful Sounds on a wet day?
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.
How likely are we to see wildlife in Fiordland?
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.
Online transactions/prices are conducted in what currency?
All prices and transactions on the Real Journeys website are in New Zealand dollars (NZD). This is specified on the Terms & Conditions page.
What happens if there is an emergency ?
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 • 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).
Our places. Our experiences. Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruises. The vastness of this untouched world will take your breath away as you experience its stunning beauty on our Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise.