Five days in Doubtful Sound is an awesome paddling expedition no matter what the conditions. You can expect to experience calm, tranquil times, possibly some wild and challenging times, incredible scenery, hopefully some unforgettable marine mammal encounters along with Fiordland rain and sandflies!
Average to good fitness is needed, with preferably some paddling experience along with plenty of motivation, determination, an open mind and a sense of humour.
Small friendly groups (8 kayakers per guide)
Top quality sea kayaking equipment
Experienced kayak guides (carry group safety and emergency equipment)
Comprehensive safety and paddling techniques briefing provided
Te Anau coach connection included (includes pick-ups from most accommodation)
Operated by Go Orange
Price: $780 per person for the kayaking, camping and return transport.
Prior paddling experience preferred - our staff will be in contact to discuss your prior experience and suitability
Competence in water and moderate fitness required; minimum age 16 years
Kayakers supply own food
It is essential you join us at 4pm the day before (at our base in Te Anau) to answer questions and work through details - e.g. food, equipment, advise your height and weight (wetsuit sizing), etc.
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.
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What To Bring - Multi Day Kayaking Trips
Swimsuit or underwear (for wearing underneath wetsuit vest/long johns)
Plastic bag for wet gear
Soft shoes (e.g. trainers/runners) or sandals (note they will get wet)
Sunblock / Sun hat / Sun glasses
Camera (disposable or waterproof)
Change of clothes – socks, footwear and rain jacket for wearing after kayaking
Camping/ After kayaking
Next to skin layer of clothing (polyprop or wool)
Warm tops, Long trousers or track pants
Underwear & Warm socks & Warm hat
Shoes for campsite
Waterproof jacket & Rain trousers (if available)
Torch / flashlight
Plate, cup and eating utensils
Spare plastic bags (ziplock)
Food (Te Anau has two good supermarkets which stay open late)
Additional campsite clothing is required for 3 – 5 day trips
We Provide - Multi Day Kayaking Trips
Long john wetsuit
Fleece top, Fleece Hat & Pogies (paddling gloves)
Paddle jacket & Spray deck
Life jacket (buoyancy vest)
Dry bags (for clothing and camera)
Double kayaks / paddles
Group safety and emergency gear
One or two person tents
Gas cookers (food needs to be quick to cook)
Pots & cooking utensils
Communal shelter (insect proof)
What To Wear When Kayaking
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.
What Food To Take When Kayaking
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). Food Suggestions:
Snacks: Bananas, chocolate, muesli bars
Lunches: Sandwich type food (cheese, salami, tuna), fruit, biscuits
Evening meal: pasta, rice or noodles with sauce plus soft vegetables, meat, canned fish
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.
Did You Know?
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.
Did You Know?
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.
5 DAY DESCRIPTION:
The following tour description summarises one possible 5 day option. Weather conditions can place restrictions and cause programme modifications on all paddling tours in the fiords.
Arriving at Deep Cove at 9.30am approximately the Doubtful Sound experience begins with changing into paddling clothes, loading sea kayaks, safety briefing. From Deep Cove we paddle down Malaspina Reach, past Rolla and Elizabeth Islands and Olphert Cove. The main reach can become quite challenging from late morning in places as frequently a sea breeze will be blowing against us.
Small sheltered headlands give time for rests as we carry on down the fiord passing the tumbling Browne Falls on the western mountains, stopping at a small beach for a late lunch. Watch for seals and penguins as we paddle round the rocky edges. Our destination and campsite for the first night is a small sheltered cove opposite the entrance to Crooked Arm.
An early start on Day 2 sees us carrying on down Malaspina Reach, the fiord becoming steadily wider with glimpses of the open ocean. Secretary Island, yesterday a dim shape in the distance now looms before us as we leave the Reach and cross one of the most exposed areas of the fiord - Pendulo Reach at the bottom of Thompson Sound – a major junction of old glaciers. Large shingle beaches appear on our right and if conditions are good we stop for morning tea.
From here we paddle into Bradshaw Sound - characterised by steep inaccessible sides. Another favourite playground of the dolphins. Lunch is close to the junction with Gaer Arm, to McDonnell Island and Precipice Cove, one of the most beautiful areas of the fiord. After exploration we will camp here or continue into Gaer Arm and the mouth of the Camelot River for the night.
Hours can be spent in this graceful waterway, exploring one of a network of channels - images of the Amazon rainforest come to mind while paddling. Here or McDonnell Island will be our campsite for the night. Sometimes we continue on to the hut on Secretary Island.
A big day with an early start. The aim is to paddle out of Bradshaw Sound and around into Crooked Arm to the campsite near its entrance. All going well, after lunch there, we will spend the afternoon exploring the Arm, maybe seeing the dolphins. A comfortable campsite with a good fireplace, the evening is a time to reflect on the trip so far.
Stillness is normally the theme as we leave the campsite anticipating the challenge of the morning’s paddle down the southwest shoreline - a 3 hour paddle with no landing points. In marginal conditions we use the other shoreline with its shelter points. Lunch either in Olphert Cove or opposite Elizabeth Island and into Deep Cove to return to the civilisation that offers hot showers and comfortable beds!