While we had a rare and beautiful day in Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound showed us what it was like when it rains all day. We saw hundreds of waterfalls and I am not exaggerating. I have never seen so many waterfalls in one area. The boat took us through the sound all the way out to the Tasman Sea (again!) where the water went from flat to rolling sea. We passed by many fiords and I think by the end of the trip I had seen so many waterfalls, that I was going numb. I started to look at them as if the Fiords were weeping and it seemed so sad. I think the gray and gloomy day was getting to me.
There is so much rain here-8+ meters a year-that there is 1 meter of freshwater sitting on top of the saltwater creating an optical distortion. The fish think they are at 40-80 meters down in the water and they are only at 10. This provides an optimal fishing and diving environment, where you can see the fish that you would not normally see as they would be too far under.
At 421 meters deep, Doubtful is the deepest of the fiords and is long and winding with three distinct branches and many waterfalls in the area from Deep Cove to the open ocean, a distance of around 40.4 kilometers. You take a ferry from the town of Manapouri that takes you over Lake Manapouri to the power station, and then you get on a bus that drives you over a mountain on Wilmot Pass Road to get on a boat at Deep Cove, to take you on a tour of the Sound. Whew! You have not even started and it is a long day.
The power station where we were dropped off is huge. It is the largest hydroelectric power station in New Zealand. Sometimes you can tour the station but we could not do it that day. It is truly an engineering marvel as they had to carve through tons of rock to build it. Inside the waiting room for the buses, there was a scale model of the inside. I have learned I do not think like an engineer as I have no clue how it works, even after reading all about it.
Even though it was literally pouring buckets, we did have a few bright spots. A pod of dolphins swam around the boat enjoying themselves and giving us a nice show. They always perform! Another bright spot was the sun. For about 5 minutes-quick! Take a picture!!
We also saw many lobster pots in the sound. They catch the lobster out in the sea (they call them crayfish here) and bring them into the sound, leaving them in their pots. They wait until the market yields a higher price, then they retrieve the pots, making a tidy profit. Very interesting way of doing business.
The boat turned into this little cove on the way back where there was a ..hotel? Corner floating store? Bait shop? What do you think it could be?
We reversed our bus, ferry, and car ride back to Te Anau, where we are staying for a few days. Te Anau is the largest lake on the south island and is called by the same name as the town. The town itself is not very big and is kind of on the dumpy side, but it is the only big town in the area that is convenient to Milford and Doubtful Sounds. It is the closest to Milford, being only 2 /12 hours away. We had a very nice apartment with a view of the lake outside the door. It was one of the nicer places we have stayed because it had 2 rooms, good pots, and pans, and a large bathroom. We are trying to cook most meals in as it is very expensive to eat out here. Works out pretty well except you have to carry your food with you wherever you go. Good thing we rented the SUV!