Travelling down the Doubtful Sound will always bring a memorable experience bouncing back to the forefront of my mind. On the 7th May I booked to go on a Doubtful Sound overnight cruise trip and it was so enjoyable. We arrived at Deep Cove at around 12pm. The water looked really calm and still and the cliffs stretched off into the distance as far as the eye could see.
We boarded the Fjordland Navigator, a cruiser with an accommodation capacity of about 70 people and were greeted warmly by the crew. The lounge area where we entered first was inviting and cosy, with semi-circular tables and seating areas, a bar and a food counter. We were given a safety briefing and were introduced to the crew. Then we were shown our quarters downstairs.
I had booked a quad share and was sort of silently hoping that I might have the room to myself but there were forty to fifty people on the trip so I had to share with three other ladies. The cabin was tiny – no room to scratch yourself never mind swing a cat in but what can you expect in a small boat. I was quite happy though to share the cabin as I wouldn’t be spending a lot of time there anyway. Even though the cabin was small it was spotless, as were all the other areas onboard.
So I was sharing with a Kiwi woman from Akaroa, an Irish lady from Mayo and an English lady from Manchester, who were all lovely people. When we came back upstairs there was free tea and coffee and some very tasty warm muffins. A lot of us went on deck to have a look at our passage through the fjord. The cliff faces were really high and sheer and because the fjord was narrow the mountains felt like they were right on top of you, covered in moss and Southern beech trees and ferns.
Fjordland is a vast, temperate rainforest and very dense. It’s also one of the world’s wettest regions. Moist westerly airstreams span across the Southern Ocean and the South Tasman Sea and crash into the huge and high landmass of Fjordland. In the West Arm of the Sound, the rainfall rises to 3,786mm and higher still at Deep Cove which gets 5,290mm per year.
The dark clouds were lingering and dumping whatever rain they had left on us but at 3pm it stopped raining and at that point we were offered the choice of three water activities: kayaking, going out in tender boats to explore the fjord or swimming. There were a few brave souls who went swimming but better them than me because the water temperature averages about eleven degrees Celcius. Damn cold!
Josh, our nature guide, took about twelve of us out on the tender boats to get a closer look at the waterfalls and the vegetation at the edge of the fjord. The best part of this trip was getting close to what I think is called sphagnum moss. It was the weirdest but most beautiful colour. The edges were bright green which merged very subtlely into a yellow colour and then burnt orange, like autumnal trees in October. I had never seen anything like it before. This moss can carry up to twenty five times its weight in water apparently. To hear about the last part of this journey and for me the most exciting part, read the final post in the blog.