Adventures Down Under: Fiordland National Park and the Doubtful Sound

‘Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. … There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.’-Rachel Carson

Visiting the Doubtful Sound (and the Fiordland National Park) was one of the most extraordinary moments of my life. Words cannot express the emotions I felt on the water and just listening to the birds. I went to the ends of the earth (well, the Tasmin Sea) and I spent the entire time just in awe of the sheer beauty. I want to go back but share it with someone. I tried to balance taking photos with living in the moment. I should note, here is where the issues with my camera’s focus come really into play. Some of the photos I took (and there are a lot…I was gone about eight hours) did not turn out and I’m not sure why.

The weather changed throughout the day which made for some stellar photographs. Some are very moody, others a bit brighter (note: while some have been edited, it was only for clarity and I tried to capture how it looked/felt there). But that is life and plenty did. I also have the memories to last a lifetime.

I left my hotel very early. We took a bus to take a ferry, to take another bus, to the boat that would give the tour of the Doubtful Sound, part of the Fiordland National Park. On the way, our driver stopped at a coffee truck. The coffee was delicious and I had the most tasty pastry. Unfortunately, I don’t know what it is called but as I’m getting settled in the new place, I intend to find it on the internet! We took a short ferry across a lake and then a special bus to the sound. The roads are narrow and steep. While it is available to backpackers to camp, you cannot take a car. The views were pretty spectacular on the way (as you can see) but the best was yet to come.

The Doubtful Sound, according to the ship’s captain, is best viewed in the winter months, when it is cloudy, a bit raining, and a chill in the air. Conveniently, those are the exact conditions I had when I went! As I have nothing to compare, I fully agree but you should go regardless of the time of year!

While the scenery was breathtaking, there are two things that stood out and that I will remember forever. The first is the captain shut down the boat’s engines and told everyone to be quiet and not make a sound. No phones or cameras or whispers. Just be. And I was. All you heard was birds chirping and a faint sound of rushing water. I was present. It was perfect. F. Scott Fitzgerald once said about a evening driving down a street in Paris that he had never felt so happy and feared he would never be this happy again. While I am not that dramatic, I, in that moment, understood what he was talking about. Just pure happiness. The next thing that happened was that he maneuvered the boat to a waterfall. His crew handed out cups and we all drank from the waterfall! I drank from a waterfall. In New Zealand! It was so cool! I couldn’t (nor still can) believe that this is my life. That I did this!

While dolphins are known to swim in the area, it was their off season. I did see several albatross and some blue penguins! They are the smallest penguins and are very cute. It was fun to see them in the water because one of the last things I did before coming home was see them come into shore on Phillips Island, Australia!

I did so many cool things this trip. While snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef and climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge were incredible, the Doubtful Sound was the highlight of my trip.