Doubtful and Dusky Sounds

7 -15 August 2004

A description of our trip with links to many photos!
(Click on any date in blue to view
photos of that day)
(Click on any picture or map for larger view)


Twelve of us ventured south to spend a week exploring Doubtful and Dusky Sounds in Fiordland.  Just about as far south west as one can go in New Zealand and still very remote and unspoilt.  The group consisted of Marie and Graeme, Robin and Paul, Wendy and Tony, Glynis and Fred, Bev and Peter, and the two of us. 

We chartered the motor vessel Affinity (website) that a group of us had chartered before for a week's cruising in the Marlborough Sounds early 2002.  She is 63 feet (20 metres) long, a very capable vessel in all conditions, and very comfortable for a group our size.  Each couple had their own cabin and it was crewed by 3 people, the owner Brian, cook Chris, and deck hand Anita.  The crew were marvellous, Brian is a very skilled operator with a lot of knowledge of the area and its history.  Chris was a lot of fun, helpful, and provided some great and varied meals, while Anita was a hard worker, happy to do anything around the ship no matter what the weather or the time and never complained.  She also joined in everything and was a great help to everyone especially while fishing.  And speaking of fishing, we caught a good number of groper and some large blue cod - certainly enough for two meals and a small parcel of fish each to take home.  There were also 2 gurnard, a single tarakihi, and quite a number of bait fish (can't remember the name).  We also caught a number of small (>1metre) sharks at some locations but they all went back.  The fresh fish meals were beautiful and the hot smoked groper flaps made a special entrée one night.

August 7and 8 (Sat/Sun).  It is a major effort to get to Fiordland.  We travelled by shuttle to the airport, direct flight to Queenstown, and then our own 21-seater charter coach (website) to Te Anau, arriving late afternoon after a couple of stops to stock up on a few bottles for the trip.  All ate at La Toscana (Italian) that night - good food.  We stayed at Shakespeare House B&B (website) which was ideal as they have a large conservatory running along outside all the rooms and this proved a great meeting point.  The breakfast was great too.

Sunday we were picked up at 7am by two shuttle vans and taken to Manapouri where a chartered high speed boat (website) took us to West Arm.  Their coach then took us down the underground power station for a visit, then over the Wilmot Pass to board Affinity about 11am at Deep Cove in Doubtful Sound.  That day we explored Doubtful Sound visiting Hall Arm, Crooked Arm, and First Arm, staying at the end of First Arm for the night.  See map

August 9 (Monday).  Breakfast each day was at 7.45 and we were on the move each day by 8.30 so that we didn't waste any daylight.  This morning we headed straight out to sea for a 3 hour trip down to Breaksea Sound working quite hard into a 2-3 metre swell on the starboard bow.  We continued down the Acheron Passage into Dusky Sound and went fishing near the entrance to Fanny Bay.  We then anchored for the night at the east end of Cooper Island.  See map

August 10 (Tuesday).  Early on this morning we went fishing off a small beach north of Cooper Island, and then cruised down the sound and went through the small channel to the west of Crayfish Island into Pickersgill Harbour where Capt Cook spent a month in 1773.  We anchored and went ashore to view Astronomer Point where Capt Cook cleared about an acre of bush to set up the astronomer's observatory.  We then went back to the west end of Cooper Island and after dark entered Sportman Cove where we moored for the night.  See map

August 11 (Wednesday).  First thing Wednesday morning we went back to Fanny Bay for another spell of fishing and then cruised back down the Sound again and anchored in Luncheon Cove on the south side of Anchor Island.  We went ashore and viewed the site of the first European house built in NZ and the nearby site where the first ship was built.  We then walked in light rain on a somewhat muddy track through the bush up to Lake Kirirua and back.  We then motored down to Cascade Cove where we anchored for the night.  See map

August 12 (Thursday).  This morning we went north between Seal Island and Useless Islands, traveled through Earshell Cove and entered The Basin at the south-west end of Resolution Island .  We then went further north, between Parrot and Pigeon Islands and entered Facile Harbour.  We then went back down around Resolution Island, up through Acheron Passage and into Breaksea Sound.  We stopped and fished for a while near Third Cove at the entrance to Vancouver Arm, and anchored near the end of Vancouver Arm for the night.  See map

August 13 (Friday).  We inspected the end of Vancouver Arm and then headed back down Breaksea Sound and out to sea to cruise back to Doubtful Sound.  Sea was up a bit, 3 to 5 metre swells but mainly behind us.  We had a number of albatross around us on the way up the coast.  On entering Doubtful we went up into Bradshaw Sound and had a close look at some of the earthquake damage to the cliffs there.  We finally moored around behind Macdonell Island for the night.  See map

August 14 (Saturday).  After breakfast we went up to the end of Bradshaw sound, then slowly cruised back down the sound and into Doubtful Sound accompanied by a pod of dolphins for a short time.  We continued back up Doubtful Sound in steady rain with spectacular waterfalls everywhere, and arrived back at Deep cove to have lunch and catch the bus.  Back over the Wilmot Pass in steady snow and boat and shuttle back to Shakespeare House in Te Anau for the night.  That night we all ate at Bailez Cafe and Bar in the centre of town.  Good food.  See map

August 15 (Sunday)  Our own coach again back to Queenstown airport through a lot of snow again and on to the midday flight back to Wellington