While travel at this time may be the furthest thing from your mind, I think it is a great time to be planning your next adventure. If living in a pandemic has taught me anything I would have to say the greatest lesson is to really appreciate nature and wildlife.
One of the countries that has handled this pandemic in an excellent way is the country of New Zealand. As a matter of fact they have done so well that they are very close to being able to declare that the virus has been eliminated, so that to me would be a great place to plan your next getaway!
My husband and I visited New Zealand in 2018 Spring, we toured both Islands but my absolute favourite activity by far was our overnight cruise in Doubtful Sound. Located in Fiordland in the far south west of New Zealand, Doubtful Sound is one of two Fjords; the other one being Milford Sound. Doubtful sound is more difficult to get to and far less popular however that is what I consider to be it’s best feature.
To get to Doubtful Sound we first drove from Queenstown to Te Anau; a beautiful lake town with incredible views of it’s own. We did unfortunately encounter a snowstorm on the way so beware that this area of New Zealand gets a fair share of snow right up until Summer so you may wish to plan accordingly.
We had an overnight stay in Te Anau and early the next morning we drove to the cruise office, a very short drive from our hotel. We were cruising with Southern Secret Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruises and I highly recommend this company; it is very small with a maximum of 12 guests and we got so lucky that we were the only ones who had booked for the time we booked and actually had a private cruise! Do keep in mind that it is definitely a trek to get into Doubtful Sound, we had a van drive to Lake Manapouri and boarded a ferry boat there which in turn took us into Doubtful Sound where our cruise awaited.
The reason I suggest this small of a cruise is that it is much more personal; we got to know the captain and first mate/cook so well and we were basically in charge as far as where we wanted to go, what we wanted to see and what activities we wished to engage in.
Above is a photo of the kitchen of our boat, our cook made us the most delicious meals!
As we began our 21 hour adventure we got to know our captain and first mate; they were absolutely lovely people who explained how everything works, showed us to our cabin and basically told us it was our trip and that we would be telling them what we wished to see/do for the entire time.
After we settled into our very comfortable cabin with it’s own ensuite, we were excited to begin; the surroundings were breathtaking and it was the kind of experience where you felt someone might pinch you and you would wake up from a magnificent dream!
As we cruised around the views just got better and better; the captain had told us that he had seen a whale that morning and we spent a lot of time trying to find him again but he did a great job hiding from us! We did however get to see some dolphins and penguins in their natural habitat, unfortunately we could not get quite close enough to get a good quality photo but both are etched in our memory.
One of the activities we chose to do was kayaking, it was such an amazing experience being at one in this breathtakingly beautiful setting, its a memory I will never forget!
It would be remiss of me not to show some of the breathtaking views we had at every turn in this incredible setting so I will post a couple of my favourites.
In the first photo above I loved that I captured the gull flying through as quite often we would see birds in the air; doubtful sound is home first and foremost for nature and wildlife and it is very unique and untouched, even on our cruise we only passed 2 or 3 other ships.
Another exciting activity that we chose to undertake was to head to the edge of the Tasman Sea and do some fishing. That experience was very fun as it was easy to catch a beautiful fish; we did of course throw them back in.
On our way back in from the Tasman Sea we were told that we needed to go check the traps for crayfish. This sounded like a fun thing to do of course but little did we know that we would actually have the experience of setting and bringing them in! And by the way, what they refer to as “crayfish” we refer to as “lobster”, and the ones we were bringing in were to become part of our evening meal.
My husband took great pleasure in this activity as you can see by the photos.
As we continued to travel throughout Doubtful Sound we encountered several natural waterfall formations, another marvel to hungry eyes.
The next morning we awoke and had a lovely breakfast waiting for us as we cruised around a bit more before heading to the dock where we would depart and leave this once in a lifetime experience behind.
As we pulled in to dock we were greeted by a Kea Parrot, so that pretty much just let us finish on a high note!
In conclusion if you asked me “would I do it again?”, my answer would be “absolutely 100%!”; do not leave this experience out of your next luxury getaway to New Zealand.