“In the following moments please do not talk, make noise, walk around, or use any electrical device that will beep or chirp. Just listen.”
These were the instructions given to us by our captain on our boat in the Doubtful Sound just before the engine shut off and we were left in the complete absence of any sound. Well… human-made sound that is.
Bird song, water undulating, foliage rustling against the wind – that’s it. Without a doubt (wah wah), this was such a unique way to experience this Sound. We debated visiting Milford Sound, which is the other, smaller (about a third the size), yet way more popular fjord (inlet created by a glacier) within New Zealand’s Fiordland National State Park, but the size and intimacy of Doubtful Sound was much more appealing. Only one tour company has the rights to cruise in the fjord so we saw no other groups while at sea, making our minutes of “silence” possible.
Doubtful Sound has two distinct layers of water – freshwater from the mountains and salt water from the ocean – that rarely mix. It’s also home to some creatures that we encountered throughout our cruise, including some playful dolphins, adorable fur seals, and obnoxious sand flies.
Always a welcome bonus, we made some new friends along the way. Christine led a group of rich and important Chinese tourists around New Zealand and Rob, a firefighter from Santa Cruz, explored the south island in his camper van. We shared many stories atop the roof deck of our boat, while braving the bitter cold weather and Asian photo bombers alike. Eventually, it became more amusing to “shoot” them like snipers instead of capturing our own traditional Kodak moments.
The end of our trip had us touring the power plant, which unfortunately was not as exciting as it was all hyped up to be. The most memorable part was the k-k-k-k-turn our bus driver so easily performed to maneuver us out of the narrow passageway.
We arrived back to Queenstown just as the sun was setting and made our last visit to Fergburger… on this trip at least.
Reminiscing about our adventures, we walked the usual route up the hill to our apartment. With our excursions complete, we were reminded of our short time left in this beautiful place and sadness began to set in. Luckily, en route, we managed to end our search for proxy wedding bands (we left our real ones at home for safe keeping). After three days, we finally found a couple of matching pounamu rings… the perfect purchase for our last night in Queenstown.