A boat trip on one of the sounds was high on our list of things we wanted to do on this trip. We'd been asking around as to whether we should go out on Milford or Doubtful Sound. Most people said either would be good, but the overall impression we got was that Doubtful was better. It was certainly more expensive, but we treated ourselves – went totally for broke! - and booked an overnight cruise with Fiordland Expeditions.

Doubtful Sound

Doubtful Sound is the second largest of the 14 fiords in Fiordland NP (Dusky Sound is the largest). It is three times longer than Milford Sound and has a sea surface area of roughly 10 times that of Milford Sound. It has three arms – Hall, Crooked and First, and all three are on the southern side of the fiord. Two other sounds, Thompson and Bradshaw Sounds, connect to the north.

Doubtful Sound has one of only two marine reserves in Fiordland (all the land in Fiordland NP is protected, but not the water, apart from these two reserves, we think this is wrong and that everywhere within the park boundaries should be protected – or that the park boundaries should include the fiords). The marine reserve here covers the narrow passage called Te Awaatu Channel between Bauza and Secretary Islands. The water is relatively shallow, 30m in places. Doubtful Sound reaches 430m at its deepest and there are sills near the entrance that are around 90m. The waters are subject to tides but with only a moderate range, between 2.5 – 3m. The water isn't that warm (hence we didn't swim!), averaging 11C. It can reach a slightly warmer 15C in shallower water and during warm weather, but the deeper parts maintain 11-12C.  Read more>>>