Travel with us to the heart of Fiordland National Park and take in the beauty and vastness of remote Doubtful Sound on our Wilderness Cruise. It will take your breath away as you experience its deep wilderness. Make sure you include this Doubtful Sound day trip to your itinerary.
Our classic Wilderness Cruise is not currently operating but you can book our special Doubtful Sound Winter Cruise. Book here >
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.
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’ll board our spacious, purpose-built catamaran Patea Explorer for a 3 hour 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.
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.
Non-slip shoes/boots, waterproof jacket, warm sweater/fleece jacket, sunscreen/sunglasses, insect repellent and camera.
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. All lunches are contained in a recyclable cardboard box. We no longer issue additional plastic bags, so we encourage you to bring your own bag to carry your pre-ordered lunch onboard. Lunch menus are indicative only.
Adult $21, Child $21 (1 Oct 2019 - 30 Sep 2020)
Fresh filled wrap, chopped fruit, muesli slice, nuts, chocolate presented in a recyclable cardboard box. Complimentary tea, coffee and water.
Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise
"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!"
The road over the Wilmot Pass is rumoured to have cost approximately $80 per square metre, making it New Zealand’s most expensive road.
The road is notable as being the only road on the New Zealand mainland which is disconnected from the rest of the roading network.
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.
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.
If you have booked a coach and cruise to Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound our buses 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.
We operate round trip combined 'coach & Doubtful Sound cruise' excursions departing Te Anau & Queenstown. However if you want to depart Queenstown and return to Te Anau (or depart Te Anau and return to Queenstown), then please contact us directly email@example.com as these trips are NOT bookable on our website.
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.
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 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).