Otago Peninsula to Manapouri, and Doubtful Sound 2

All too soon it was time to leave the beautiful Otago Peninsula. Not too upset though as via a long drive we’d be heading to the beautiful Lake Manapouri for a few days and at some point doing a cruise on the awesome Doubtful Sound.

En route to Manapouri we stopped off in the town of Gore which itself didn’t seem to have heaps going on but just outside the Croydon Bush Scenic Reserve provides an extremely nice walking diversion. We did a lovely little loop walk up to the lookout through beautiful Podocarp Forest, loads of ferns, mosses, birdsong and other beautiful forest loveliness. A lot more scenic than Croydon nr London…

Passed by the charmingly named Whiskey Creek and spotted an eel in the water. As I was faffing about trying to get my camera onto underwater setting, another couple, – we’ll call them the fool fools, came along and decided to disturb the wildlife because they wanted to see it swim, Mrs Fool Fool poking with a stick whilst hubby threw a stone. Needless to say, eel swam off under a rock… I managed to restrain myself but only just.

Back in the van, forward and onward to Lake Manapouri and Possum Lodge, our campsite for the next few days. Really lovely. Rustic, away from the hurly burly of Te Anau, the nearest biggish town.

Possum Lodge

Minor panic once we arrived and I realised I hadn’t actually booked the Doubtful Sound cruise – Late morning tours were booked up so we had to plump for the 8 am which meant getting there for 7.40. As it turned out it was a great time to go and more than made up for the early start – more on that later.

After a lovely night’s sleep woke up to yet another glorious, sunny day. Decided we’d go into Te Anau briefly and then walk a bit of the Kepler Track. Well that didn’t happen… got distracted by the shopping for old tat opportunities that Te Anau provided then seemed to spend the rest of the time eating, drinking coffee, having ice cream and generally chilling out. Ho hum…

Sorta made up for it later in the evening by driving out to take a look at the start of the track, promising we’d walk a bit of it mañana, then taking a shortish walk to the lovely Frasers Beach about 20 minutes walk from camp. Relaxed by Lake Manapouri in the late evening sunshine gazing into the crystal clear water and watching folk having fun water skiiing, snorkling, swimming or just plain chillin on the beach like us.

Lake Manapouri

Frasers Beach

Frasers Beach

Frasers Beach

Still light up to around 10/10.30 pm and at the moment the moon is so bright it never really seems to get “proper dark”.

Up at the crack of 6am this morning to give us plenty of time to get up, showered, dressed and do the 10-15 minute (nice) walk along the track to Pearl Harbour to start our day of cruising. First across Lake Manapouri…

Lake Manapouri map

Lake Manapouri

to the West Arm Visitor’s Centre (resident population 1)…

Pearl Harbour

Then by coach from the power station up over Wilmot Pass…and onto another boat for a wonderful 3 hours cruising the awesomeness that is Doubtful Sound.

Doubtful Sound Map

Doubtful Sound

Doubtful Sound

Boat on Doubtful Sound

Apparently before the power station and road were built, the only way to see Doubtful Sound was to walk for a couple of days and then pick up a boat. As it is, the road to doubtful has no direct links to the outside world.

According to our coach driver and nature guide we were very lucky today – the Sound was calm which meant we could get out into the open sea a bit and look backwards from the Tasman Sea down the Sound (which is really a Fjord not a Sound which probably means something to some geography buff), the weather was clear (so we could see the snow capped mountains), and the Bottle Nosed Dolphins were feeling social enough to come up and swim alongside the boat for a bit – magic (but they’re pretty quick so hard to get a decent shot).


Also saw seals basking on the rocks near the entrance to the Sound from the sea. Sadly, on this occasion, the only penguins we saw were on the boat…

Blue Penguin

Crested Penguin

So beautiful and peaceful out there I don’t know enough big words to describe it adequately.

Doubtful Sound


As if all that wasn’t enough it was back on the coach so we could get to have a look at the Manapouri power station.

Manapouri Power Station

The reason it was possible at all for us to get a coach to the Sound. Awesome feat of engineering – 2km tunneled into hard rock. Now remotely controlled from Wellington but took 100s of folk to build. Now hardly anyone lives here at all…

Manapouri Power Station

Manapouri Power Station

Back on the boat and back the way we came over Lake Manapouri with views of Frasers Beach from the middle of the lake this time. Awesome day. Now just got to get that Kepler track stroll under our belts this evening after an early dinner…

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2 thoughts on “Otago Peninsula to Manapouri, and Doubtful Sound

  • Jackie & Mel

    Hi Aba & Acyee,

    I can see that you both had a good xmas in sunny Newzealand. You are not missing anything in London rain ,wind and cold usual stuff. Enjoy the rest of your holiday have a fab new year see you on your return. Mel say bless and bigup .

    Lynda says she will send a blogg but don’t hold your breath.She says hello

    Jackie & Mel

  • Aba & Acyee

    Hi Jackie & Mel, welcome on board. Yep we had a good one ta, hope you all did too. You may be comforted to know it’s been raining here, but… the raindrops are warm and the sun hot in between! Won’t hold our breaths waiting for Lynda but big hi and love to all of you, and a very Happy New Year when it comes.

    Aba & Acyee