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Fjordland - Cruising Doubtful Sound with Fjordland Navigator

Nya Zeeland (Doubtful Sound) 2006-01-31

Woke up very late this morning (!) in our little cabin, about 6 square meter, at Manapouri Lakeview Motor Park, in brilliant sunshine!

Today we will go cruising! We will cruise the 40 kilometer long Doubtful Sound, one of many beautiful fjords at southwest Fjordland, South Island, NZ. Deb and Rich, our English friends, are together with us for a couple of days. They are also doing a “365 days around the world trip". You maybe remember we met them and shared a quad in El Chasten in Argentina last November - and now our "roads are crossing again"!

From Lake Manapouri it takes about 50 minutes by boat on the crystal clear water to the other side of the lake. A bus is waiting to take us for a 40 minutes ride on the road they built in the mid 1960s - across Wilmot Pass. Absolutely no other vehicles on this road in the bush!! At Wilmot Pass Lookout we had our first view of the fjord and it is absolutely great!! New Zealand has really ALL the beauty in the world in their relatively small country. Ok, to be honest, the fjords in Norway can definitely be compared to this!

Onboard the Fjordland Navigator, a beautiful ship were we will spend the next 20 hours, we are making ourselves at home in a quad (wow, it is small...). During the safety briefing they served us coffee and freshly made muffins, yummy!! Around 70 people and 15 different nationalities are represented.

Leaving the jetty we have started our trip through Doubtful Sound against The Tasmanian Sea. The fjord landscape is really awesome...high mountains against the blue, calm (in this time) sea! Is it really true? And is it possible for trees to grow on these steep cliffs? The nature is really doing a good job!!

Well, now it is activity time! All four of us went out kayaking. It was a long time ago.......our legs are a bit shaky while entering the kayak. But we are doing great!! Even though some waves are higher then us.....Did we get wet? Yepp, soaked! Anders took a bath afterwards, in 12 C water! - "Ohh, it was much colder in the ice bath in Finland last winter"

Luckily we had a warm sun that could dry us and our clothes up. Against the chill (?) they served us a nice hot soup and we took a glass of cold Sauvignon Blanc, was that good?! On the Sun deck we are checking out the nature, passing an island that is inhabited by sea lions and seals - they just lay and rest in the sun - like Englishmen/Americans on holiday/vacation!?!

Times travels fast and after being out on open water, the nearest land is the Antarctic Circle, it is now Dinner time. And WOW! Was it great!!!! It was even better than we have been told! The best we have had, so far, in NZ!! And it is nice to have something else then our "hostel cooking’s" for a change.

The Sunset is beautiful and we have to pinch our arms to really understand that this is for real! Another hard day at work for us "Professional Tourists" is soon ending!! And, no airplanes or even other tourist boats are interrupting us - not even congestion taxes, sleet, stress or the darkness of January.

After introducing Deb and Rich for PLUMP (a card game) and played once (Anders is the winner) we went to bed. As the Professionals we are we had the alarm clock to ring 10 minutes before the wake up call and we all went up at 6:20 to avoid the queue to the showers!

There has been a weather change during the night. It is raining heavily and the wind is hard!! But it is quite ok to have a BIG breakfast onboard and just listen to the rain. Besides, the waterfalls become more beautiful - unfortunately it takes about 24 hours for them to become really big, no big ones this time. Out here Sunshine is "bad" weather from that perspective!

We are glad that we had listen to the people we met in NZ that have told us that Doubtful Sound is as beautiful as Milford Sound but not that known!! As we drove up to Milford Sound yesterday we realized that it is "well visited". A lot of Buses on the road and when we got there we were surrounded by airplanes, helicopters and daytrip boats. Honestly, Milford Sound is a beauty and the Milford Sound Road is like taking a trio into the "Lord of the Ring"-movies.

Yet another day trough our fantastic trip around the world has passed and after 130 days of traveling we don't regret for a second that we made this 1-year break away from the routines/treadmill in Stockholm.

"You only live once"

Greetings EvAnders