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Doubtful Sound Cruise – Day 55
Saturday 21st May 2005
I had planned a trip to Doubtful Sound today, which I guessed would be similar to Milford Sound, except not quite as good. It should be a fun day though.
I woke up early and arrived at the tour place for 9am. A few other guests arrived not long after, but not many. It was funny to watch as each small group of people stood in separate corners of the room, nobody taking the step to talk to anybody. I tried to engage in conversation at one point, but it was short lived.
We set off across the first lake on a small boat. The air was very cool and the water almost silent as we glided across the lake. The thick fog that accompanied our trip this morning made visibility at a minimum. You could barely see a few meters from the edge of the boat. It was an eerie atmosphere, and strangely quiet. It was almost as though we were travelling into the dying lands on our last journey, destined to meet our maker. And still nobody spoke to one another.
We arrived at the other side of the lake about 1 hour later to where a coach was waiting for us. This coach would eventually take us to the power station. We had to drive down a narrow tunnel into the ground to get to the station. Once there, we were given a 20-minute guided tour through the building, and witnessed not a lot. It was interesting, but not much was happening, and it didn’t really excite me much. I had time to count how many people were on this trip, it was 14.
We all stepped back onto the coach to be driven to Doubtful Sound along winding roads through the mountains. Not for the first time this trip, the views were stunning. After 45 minutes we had arrived at our boat. I was pleasantly surprised at how organised the trip had been so far. We each boarded the boat and set out for a 4 – 5 hour cruise around the Sound. By now the fog had cleared, and we could actually see all around us, but it was still cloudy, and very cool.
Along the way we saw many dolphins, all swimming about the boat and jumping out of the water around us. It was lovely to see. We also came upon a fur seal colony, all sat on the rocks, closely watching us as we snapped away on our cameras. We came very close to the rocks, and had to be careful not to crush any seal against the rock. The little ones all hid behind their parents, or jumped into the water to evade us. They were all very cute indeed.
After leaving the rock, we headed back and re-visited the bottlenose dolphins, which seemed more playful this time around. We stopped the boat and had a hot drink while observing these wonderful creatures as they put on an impressive display for us. I have much respect for these animals, and just adore their playful nature. Half of me wanted to jump in and swim with them, the other half didn’t. So I didn’t.
As the boat moved away, so the dolphins followed. They swam in the boat’s wake, jumping up and down in front of us and beside us. I wondered how close they were to hitting the boat at times, but these guys are masters of the water. We were graced with the dolphin’s presence for some time as we left the open water and made for dry land, yet my gaze was fixed upon them, not wanting to miss a trick. I was sad when the little guys left us, and I just stood looking back out into the water, hoping to see one last leap into the air. I was rewarded with several.
We all got back on the coach, then hopped onto the boat to take us back across the first lake. It was only now that people began to speak to each other, and I got on very well with a couple sitting next to me. We talked a lot about travel, and about New Zealand, and many other things. I wondered why it had taken so long to initiate this conversation, such is the complexity of the human being. As we stepped off the boat, I noticed a strange shape peering out from a bush. It looked like a carved dinosaur out of a piece of wood. I got back to the hostel at around 7pm, and popped into Te-Anau again for something to eat.
While out I saw the couple I had been speaking to on the boat, and sat with them while we ate. Again, we talked and laughed. They are very nice people. I came back to the hostel absolutely shattered, and was met with a similar scene to the previous night. Two young guys and a young girl drinking, playing drinking games, whilst listening to death metal with the sound on full. It would be another long night. I had a beer with them, but didn’t have the energy for anything else, so I tried in vein – again – to get some sleep.
Written by Daniel Stevens,
Founder of Roundtheworldtrip.org.
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