We all sleep well and gather at about 8:00 am for the huge breakfast buffet at the hotel restaurant. Before moving on, we take a few photos of the hotel grounds and the beautiful lake scenes across the street.
We consolidate our luggage, each packing a bag for our next adventure – an overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound, smack dab in the center of Fiordland National Park. Three times as long as Milford Sound (a very popular tourist destination) and much less visited, Doubtful Sound is home to native wildlife (fur seals, dolphins, penguins) and until only very recently, according to our travel book, was never explored because it was “doubtful” whether the winds in the sound would be sufficient to blow the ships, once they entered into the coves, back out to sea.
A map of the southwestern tip of New Zealand's South Island.
You can see that Doubtful Sound opens up to the Tasman Sea.
It’s an adventure just getting to Doubtful Sound. Mark booked our travel through Real Journeys, and we were picked from our hotel up by motor coach at 11:30 am. We took a ½ ride to Lake Manapouri, where we’re shuttled aboard a boat for a 45-minute ride across the lake to our next stop at the West Arm power station*. Then it’s back into a touring motor coach for a ride across Wilmot Pass, a 22 km journey that winds along a road built as part of the power station project. We stop once along the way for photos at a scenic outpost.
Our destination of Doubtful Sound can be seen behind us.
A few more minutes on the bus and we arrive at Deep Cove where we board the Fiordland Navigator. So if you’ve keeping track, this morning’s journey includes a motor coach, then a boat, then a motor coach, and then another boat.
* The West Arm power station, officially known as the Manapouri Underground Power Station, was constructed between 1963 and 1972. From the outside, you only see standard-issue electrical towers, but the magic and science lie underground, which is accessible by transversing a 2km spiral access road. To create electricity, water flows from the lake through massive intake valves, and then down to the station below through "penstocks", which powers the turbines. These turbines drive seven separate generating stations. This concludes today's science lesson.