New Zealand February 1999  
At the other end of the world
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 Doubtful Sound 15th - 16th February

We wanted to spend two days at Doubtful Sound but it was impossible to book an overnight kayaking or cruising trip. They were all booked up for weeks .. even the one day cruise trips were fully booked.
We decided to test our luck, so we went on the departure of the overnight cruise which takes just eight passengers and hoped that somebody wouldn't show up. We had big trouble doing so because Manapori was very overcrowded and the Possom Lodge didn't wanted to hold two beds for us until 1pm. Luckly for us the owner of The Glade was more flexible - we booked the cabin for that night but when we get on the boat he will try to resell the room and we will get our money back. Five minutes to noon the lady at the counter asked us if we have our stuff with us because two people hadn't shown up until now. We called The Glade and told him that we wouldn't need the cabin and then we were off to Doubtful Sound .. (That's great luck, isn't it?)
The trip started with a cruise across Lake Manapouri, towards West Arm, where the powerstation is located. During the cruise they told us many facts about the power station and how it works. We also saw the outer parts of it - where the water goes in and where the electricity comes out :). We didn't go into the power station - instead we boarded a bus together with the six other passengers of the Kay Dee II. The bus brought us over the Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove, where the cruises depart. We met our crew - Dominic and Terry and soon we started cruising on Doubtful Sound. Just a few minutes after departure Terry made us some very tasty muffins. Tea, coffee, water, some fruits and cookies were always available. We cruised to different parts of the sound, like Crooked Arm, Malaspina Reach and the entrance to Tasman Sea - they used to do snorkeling at Shelter Islands there but a shark was sighted a couple of days before so we didn't do that. We had a nice soup and garlic bread before we headed towards the five-star hotel - a highlight of the tour. It's a small hut where fisherman deliver their catch but it has a sign over the door saying "Bayview Hotel" and the building has got star-stickers on it (a petrol station emblem), one at the side, some on the front - all together there are 5 stars ... :)
We cruised into Thompson Sound and anchored at the end of Bradshaw Sound for the night. After the great dinner - I wondered how Terry managed to cook such a meal in this small kitchen - we did some kayaking. The water in this part of the sound was very shallow so kayaing was easy. We saw a Fjordland Crested Penguin coming ashore and disappearing between the roots of a tree. Also, there was a fur seal swimming in the water; it didn't seem to care about us. In the water are many small fish, we could see them both in the water and above the water - they kept on jumping all the time. We also saw many huge starfish. On the way back we met the seal again, it swam directly towards my kayak. I stopped paddling but we were still on a collision course ... just inches away from me the seal decided to change direction. I could see it swimming right under my kayak - great. Fur seals look so boring when they are ashore or lying on the rocks but in the water when they are swimming and diving they look so cute :)
When we came back to the boat Dominic had prepared dessert for us and we all enjoyed our icecream with apple pie. *jummy*
The cabins are small but very nice and I slept well. An early breakfast today because we were going to kayak again. This time it was a bit different because we didn't paddle back to the boat - the boat followed us. Just a few minutes after we started paddling a heavy rain set in :(
I wanted to be on the boat but it was too late. I was jealous of the people who stayed on board ..
but I was wearing my raincoat, so it was not too bad, I just got a bit wet. It was raining when we were picked up from the boat and it didn't stop raining until we found the dolphins at the entrance to First Arm. That was a bit weird because it didn't rain while we watched the dolphins, but it was raining again just after we left them.
The dolphins were great to watch. The Bottlenose Dolphins are very big, up to four meters in length. They kind of liked the boat, tending to surf in the wave, so we could see them very close. Sometimes a few dolphins would jump out of the water and I kept trying to get a photo of them but most times I was too slow. We watched and circled the dolphins for quite a while, until we had to head back to deep cove. We stopped at a penguin island. Often penguins are seen there but we didn't see any. The only animals we saw again - fur seals. After the return to Deep Cove we met our bus driver again and he brought us back to West Arm, Lake Manapouri with some nature stops on the way over Wilmot Pass.
Another cruise across the Lake - sunshine on this side of the mountains - and we were back in Manapouri and went to our cabin at The Glade to get a shower.
We didn't do much that afternoon or the next morning, just hang around at the lake shore.

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