Real Journeys Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise - NZ Travel

Real Journeys Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise

Real Journeys Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise

Doubtful SoundDoubtful Sound is a massive wilderness area of rugged peaks, rainforest and twisting, hidden inlets - all deep in the heart of Fiordland National Park.
Known for its pristine beauty and wildlife, Doubtful Sound is the second largest of the 14 fiords in Fiordland National Park and is three times longer and 10 times larger than Milford Sound. It is home to bottlenose dolphins and fur seals - both of which are often seen. In season, you may also catch a glimpse of the rare Fiordland Crested Penguin.
In Maori legend, this colossal fiord was created by the godly figure Tu Te Raki Whanoa. Four young sea gods assisted him by carving the fiord’s long, sheltered arms.
Today, Doubtful Sound remains an unspoilt wilderness of many moods; one minute clear blue and sun-drenched, the next mysterious and mist-cloaked.

Real Journeys offers daytime Wilderness and Small Boat cruises, as well as overnight cruises at Doubtful Sound.

Help Notes:

Wheelchair Policy:  Not recommended for wheelchair clients, however they will accommodate if client really wants to do tour.

Cancellation Policy: Strict Cancellation Penalties apply for travel within 35 Days - so full payment is required 35 days prior to departure.

All cruise departures are subject to weather conditions so it is required to reconfirm your tour 48 hours prior to departure.  At this time your departure point and time will be verified.

Driving times:
Queenstown - Milford (one way) 5 hours 291 kms
Te Anau - Milford (one way) 2hrs 30 mins 170 kms

Region Location Map


Main Office:
Visitors Centre

Pearl Harbour, Manapouri

What to bring:
  • Comfortable walking shoes/boots
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Woollen sweater/fleece jacket
  • Change of clothes
  • Sunscreen/sunglasses
  • Insect repellent
  • Swimwear (optional)
  • Cash for bar and snacks
  • Camera and lots of film,
  • Overnight bag only.
Available Activities:
Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise

Immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of Doubtful Sound on an overnight cruise.
Your excursion begins with a short cruise across island-studded Lake Manapouri and a coach trip over Wilmot Pass. You will then descend to Doubtful Sound to meet the crew of the Fiordland Navigator awaiting you in Deep Cove. The Fiordland Navigator is designed along the lines of a traditional sailing vessel, combining the charm of a bygone era with all modern comforts including spacious viewing decks, a dining saloon/fully licensed bar and an observation lounge.
During the afternoon, you will cruise the full length of the fiord, weaving through hidden coves and waterways. Bottlenose dolphins are often encountered, fur seals bask on the rocks and, at times, rare penguins can be seen. As evening draws near, the crew will drop anchor in a sheltered cove, allowing you to explore the shoreline by kayak or tender craft (small boat) with a nature guide. For the more adventurous, there’s even a chance to go swimming.
In the evening, enjoy a delicious meal prepared by our onboard chef and relax in the saloon before retiring to your cosy bed.

Key Points:

  • All activities (kayaking and tendercraft/small boat), meals and accommodation included
  • Three-course buffet dinner & cooked breakfast
  • Sleeps 70
  • 18 private cabins with ensuite bathrooms and 8 quad share bunk - style compartments
  • Picnic lunch options can be pre-ordered
  • Queenstown and Te Anau coach connections with courtesy transfers from most accommodation
  • Suitable for all ages with exception of infants in quad share
Click on the above images to open the image gallery


 - Daily departures from Manapouri at 12 - 12.30pm (returns 11.45am - 12 noon day 2)

 - Daily* departures from Queenstown at 8.30am (returns 3.15pm/3.30pm day 2) *May & Sep coach connections depart Monday, Wednesday and Friday only

 - Daily departures from Te Anau at 11am/11.30am (returns 12.30pm/12.45pm day 2)


Off-Peak: October, April, May & September

Peak: November to March

Duration: 2 days / 1 night

Room Types: Double & Twin, Single or Quad Share* occupancy available.

* Quad-share: we endeavour to assign compartments as "all female" or "all male" but we cannot guarantee this

Min Child Age: 1 years old

Max Child Age: 14 years old

Infants: (0 - 12 months) carried free of charge if sleeping in a cot, otherwise child rates apply. Infants may travel in twin/double cabins only. Passengers to provide their own cot, unless by prior arrangement.


How long does it take to travel to Manapouri?
From Queenstown to Manapouri by car or coach takes around 2 hrs 45 mins and from Te Anau around 30 minutes.

Is there car parking at Manapouri?
Overnight car parking is 950m from the Manapouri Visitor Centre and daytime car parking is provided adjacent to the Visitor centre. See our map of Manapouri

What are the road conditions to Manpouri like in the winter?
Driving conditions during winter (May to September) can be difficult.  Extreme care is needed as freezing temperatures mean the road can ice over in shaded places.  During the winter it is mandatory to carry snow chains in your vehicle as the road can sometimes be covered in snow.  If you are not confident about driving in winter conditions then take a Real Journeys coach and relax and enjoy the stunning scenery.

What is the difference between Milford and Doubtful Sounds?
Milford Sound at the mountainous north end of Fiordland National Park is the classic fiord - a deep water inlet between steep sided high mountains.  Milford Sound is a middle-sized fiord at around 13 kms in length and it is famous for its dramatic scenery, especially Mitre Peak.  This fiord is the most accessible of Fiordland National Park’s 14 fiords and it can be reached by road (coach or car) or by flight connections from Queenstown.

Doubtful Sound is located in the heart of Fiordland National Park where the mountains are still very impressive but not as high as Milford Sound.  Doubtful Sound is three times longer and  has a sea surface area roughly ten times larger than Milford Sound.  Its three arms are Hall, Crooked and First Arm.  It is famous for its wilderness scenery and wildlife sightings.  To travel to Doubtful Sound visitors first take a launch trip across Lake Manapouri and coach over Wilmot Pass.

Visitors with enough time choose to experience both fiords as they have different characters.

What is the difference between a sound and a fiord?
A fiord is a glaciated valley - typically narrow and steep-sided - that has been flooded by the sea after the glacier’s retreat.  A sound, on the other hand, is a river valley flooded by the sea following a rise in sea levels or depression of the land, or a combination of both.

What weather can I expect in Fiordland?
Fiordland’s weather is what gives the region its unique character. Rainfall is what makes Fiordland a land of lakes, rivers, streams, waterfalls and fiords. Visitors should always be prepared to enjoy some rainfall during their stay. It is recommended to bring sensible clothing for cool and wet weather to fully appreciate your stay.
The temperatures you can expect in the different seasons are as follows: summer (December-February) 19-23 Celsius, autumn (March-May) 8-18 Celsius, winter (June-August) 5-9 Celsius, spring (September-November) 10-19 Celsius.

Is it worth going to Milford/Doubtful Sounds on a wet day?
Many say you have not seen Fiordland unless you have seen it in the rain.  When it rains in Fiordland the landscape is dramatic - rock faces stream with waterfalls, mist hangs around the tops of the mountains and rivers and streams rage.  From a dry comfortable vantage point on board the coach or vessel this landscape is spectacular.

Are linen and towels provided on the Milford and Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruises?

Overnight Cruises and Quadshare -  We are a group of three people and would like to book a shared quad-share room. Will this mean we would be sharing with another person?
Yes, you could potentially be sharing with another guest. Alternatively you could choose to pay for the entire quad cabin, or two double cabins, to ensure privacy.


Do you pick up from local accommodation in Queenstown or Te Anau?
If you have booked a coach and cruise to Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound our coaches pick up from most accommodation in Queenstown and Te Anau.  When booking either from our website or directly with our staff, please let us know if you want to be picked up from your accommodation or from our Visitor Centre.

How likely are we to see wildlife in Fiordland?
While we cannot guarantee you will see wildlife, sightings of fur seals are reasonably common in both Doubtful and Milford Sounds.  A pod of bottlenose dolphins resides in Doubtful Sound so you have a good chance of seeing these fascinating mammals, and in Milford Sound dolphins are occasional visitors.  In both sounds the rare Fiordland crested penguin can at times be observed.

Are the vessels licensed to sell alcohol?
Alcohol is available on all our excursions.

Do you offer vegetarian meals?
Overnight cruises include vegetarian options. Please advise us of any special dietary requirements when booking.

Optional Extra's:

Exclusive Coach Transfers from Queenstown or Te Anau


Click to Zoom

The journey to Doubtful Sound from Te Anau and Queenstown is magnificent.
Our drivers have been selected for their experience and knowledge, and our schedule includes plenty of time for short nature walks and photo opportunities along the way. 

Coach connections depart from Real Journeys Visitor Centres:
  • Queenstown: Visitors Centre, Steamer Wharf  (Beach St)
  • Te Anau: Visitors Centre, Te Anau

Courtesy transfers from most Queenstown and Te Anau accommodation if pick up address is advised in advance
Lunch can be pre-ordered, please advise at time of booking.

Manapouri Underground Power Station


Click to Zoom

The Manapouri Underground Power Station, located deep beneath Fiordland, harnesses the energy of rushing water to generate electricity.

The construction of this power station was one of New Zealand's greatest engineering achievements, with the majority of the work completed underground in a remote location. The only external signs are the above-ground control building, a switchyard and two sets of transmission lines that loop across the head of the lake on their way to join the national grid. 

A visit to the Manapouri Underground Power Station begins with a cruise across beautiful Lake Manapouri. You will then travel by coach down a 2km (1.2 miles) spiral tunnel to view the immense underground machine hall and learn the story behind this power station.

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