Penguins and Seals and Dophins - oh my! By Kate
06.03.2009 - 07.03.2009 12 °C
Which one to Cruise??!
In the Fiorland area of New Zealand there are two main fiords that you can take cruises along. The more accessable and therefore more touristy Milford Sound or the more remote and therefore less spoiled Doubtful Sound. Visually they both sounded beautiful and were fairly evenly matched on price for what we wanted to do. As we had our own transport and therefore location wasn't really a problem we decided to opt for Doubtful Sound. It was also meant to have slightly more wildlife and a resident pod of dolphins that play in the water so that all sounded good.
We had read that the best way to see the area was to take an overnight cruise, you got to spend more time out in the fiord and therefore got to see more than a simple day cruise. On arriving at the tourist info center in Invercargill we were told the main company that operates out there, Real Journeys (they run a 70 passenger boat) were fully booked for several days. However the very helpful staff at the centre told us about another company, Deep Cove Charters that also did an overnight cruise. It was a much smaller boat, only 12 passengers and so could venture where the bigger boats couldn't and you could try your hand at a spot of fishing, they had space for the day we needed so we were booked on!
To get to Doubtful Sound you have to drive to the small town of Manapouri, cross the large lake, get driven across Wilsons Pass and then pick up your boat for the start of the cruising around the fiordlands. Of course all of the scenery whilst doing this is absolutly stunning.
Chris, our captain, met us off the first boat and packed us all into his mini van to start the journey across the Wilsons Pass. Unfotunatly it was raining at this point but with the area averaging over 7 metres of rainfall a year this wasn't to be unexpected. We stoped at various points along the way while Chris shared his knowledge about the area. Then it was time to head on down towards our waiting vessel...
The boat itself was lovely, it had a large open plan seating area where crew (x3) and passengers (x10) could sit and mingle together. There were two outside areas to venture onto but with the rain still refusing to stop we all prefered to stay in the dry and once we had all been shown where we would be sleeping for the night it was time to push off.
We headed out and started our trip down one of the many arms of the fiord. Thankfully the rain started to ease and soon enough it was time to stop the boat and all have a go at fishing. Now this wouldn't normally interest me but I was willing to give it a go and see what we could catch, after catching a few smaller fish to use as bait we were wanting to see some bigger specimen so we headed on out to try a new spot. The rain had stopped and the sun even made it out from behind the cloud, it was turning into a beautiful day. We stopped again to try our luck for some bigger fish. I cast my rod out with the stong belief that this would by my catch. Soon I had a bite and was realing it in, as it was getting heavier and harder to real it in I knew I had something pretty impresive and it was, a beautiful blue cod, the largest caught all day and it was put aside to go with our dinner that night.
After we had headed out to the main sea to look at the seal coloney basking on the rocks we headed back towards where we would be settling for the night. Chris had informed us that there were dolphins around but that they hadn't seen them yesterday so wasn't sure if we would catch a glimpse that day. Thankfully he was wrong and soon enough we heard the word 'DOLPHIN' shouted out. We all rushed outside to catch a glimpse and were greated by around 15 dolphins swiming around in the distance. Soon enough a few of them were coming over to play along side the boat twisting and turning coming right up out of the water, Chris wacked up the speed to get them playing some more and they were soon jumping right out in the wake created by the boats movement. Truely amazing!
All on a high from our dolphin encounter we headed back into the hub of the warm boat to be greated by an amazing dinner of vennison pie (wild venisson caught by the crew no less!) veggies and our freshly caugh fish cooked to perfection. Soon it was time to head below to our tiny cabins to get some well deserved sleep. It wasn't long after I had eventually drifted off that the sound of the engines started again and this signalled our 6:30am start to head back to the mainland and civilisation once more. Sadly it had started to rain again but this wouldn't dampen our enjoyment of the last 24 hours.