A Travellerspoint blog

Cruising the South West Shore of NZ

Dusky Sound, Doubtful Sound, and Milford Sound

sunny 17 °C

This morning we woke up to cool sunny skies and a strong breeze. This southwest coast of New Zealand is renowned for the mountainous terrain spotted with spectacular sounds and fiords. We were told that it is most unusual to have a sunny day down here as they average 3 metres and 200 days of rain a year. According to the ship’s crew this is the first sunny day they have had while cruising this area THIS YEAR.

Just as we finished breakfast we entered Dusky Sound which is the largest at 40 km in length and 8 km at its widest point. From the open ocean the entrance to the sound just looks like a small indent in the shoreline. For this reason early explorers often ignored these inlets for decades. Our huge ship nosed its way into the narrow entrance and proceeded up the sound. The further we sailed the more spectacular the scenery became. The mountains towered up on both sides reaching heights of over five thousand feet. In many areas the sides of the mountains were sheer cliffs extending up and up. It was like sailing along the bottom of the Grand Canyon except the sides are a verdant green only broken up by sheer rock out crops from time to time. The whole area has to be experienced to be believed it is so beautiful. The icing on the cake was the spectacular weather. Every rail both Port and Starboard from Deck 5 to Deck 15 was lined with people. We have never seen so many people on the decks. Every view was a spectacular one.






After ninety minutes of cruising the sound we emerged back into the open ocean. We had just enough time to talk to everyone about the amazing sights and grab lunch before the announcement came that we were approaching another sound. This time it was Doubtful Sound which is actually a fiord. Once again the ship nosed into another narrow opening in the mountains lining the coast. Again the sights were spectacular. This time we had an interesting experience as another cruise ship appeared coming around a corner in one of the wider areas of the channel. The ship was one of Holland America’s older and smaller cruise ships. We passed each other within less than a kilometer of each other as we all waved to each other.








Milford Sound is NZ’s most famous tourist destination and is one of the top 10 travel destinations in the world. It is named after Milford Haven in Wales. The sound runs 15 km inland from the Tasman Sea. The mouth of the fiord is surrounded by sheer rock faces rising 1,200 metres on either side.









Our only disappointment was that we didn’t see any of the dolphins, penguins or whales which inhabit the area.

As we settled down for dinner we left this beautiful area and headed north west (course set at 310 degrees for the navigators) across the Tasman Sea – a distance of 2000 km. This part of the trip will take 2 ½ days. This sea, known locally as “The Ditch” is a region of disproportionately high winds for its latitude. The weather and seas can vary greatly and change quickly so we were prepared for the possibility of rough seas on our crossing. Our luck held, however, and we had a beautiful crossing with only partly cloudy skies, swells of only 2 metres and light winds.

We are sorry to leave the beautiful country of New Zealand. We have found a real kinship with the people – after all, we both have a single huge, powerful neighbor and have to stand up for ourselves quite a bit! Everyone we talked with was friendly, open, helpful and most welcoming. We found that besides a huge pride in their country, they have a wonderful sense of humour. In just the few days we were here we found that humour in these signs.

Message to Cupid in a storefront

Parking sign

Promo to donate blood

Good bye New Zealand. We will remember you fondly and hope to return.

STOP THE PRESSES: For several years we have been following the skiing career of Dara Howell, granddaughter of friends Jack and Jacquie Howell of Huntsville and niece of our friends Kim & Geayt Spiteri. We have been anxiously following Dara through the women’s Slope Style qualifying runs at Sochi as we sail across the Tasman Sea. Then early this evening our time Dara laid down an amazing run that blew away the other competitors and captured the Gold medal thrilling our little group of travelling Canadians. Congratulations to Dara and her entire support group of family and friends from Huntsville who made the trip to Sochi to cheer on Dara especially Grandma Jacquie Howell, Dara’s biggest fan.

Posted by DavidandHazel 21:45 Archived in New Zealand

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Once again we have enjoyed reading & looking at all of your pictures and we hope “The Ditch” isn't too rough because you have 2-1/2 days of it & we don't want you to get sea sick. Your right, it makes it a lot of fun when a country is beautiful & the people have such a good sense of humour. Your whole trips seems amazing... Have fun...


Carol & Ray

by Carol-Ray

Beautiful pics! Ron and I are enjoying your posts. Isn't Milford Sound beautiful? Calvin and Amy got engaged there on their trip down a couple of years ago.

by Mary and Ron Vankeulen

You write an amazing travel blog! We're still digging out from our 4th storm this week - 2.5 meters this winter and counting! Say "Hi" to Ross Palmer and our other friends in Perth!

by bryson

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