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Recommended experiences in and around Manapouri
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All reviews wilmot pass across lake manapouri doubtful sound day trip tasman sea overnight cruise the bus fiordland navigator new zealand te anau west arm complete silence turned off nature guide fur seals quad share packed lunch
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Reviewed September 30, 2014

...that is the best word I can use to describe it. While I've not visited Medford Sound, rumor has it that it is quite crowded. On the other hand, Doubful Sound only has one tour group....Real Journeys. The company that puts this together is on top of their game. The buses run on time and the customer service is wonderful. I recommend getting the lunch you can pre-purchase. It's a large, fresh made sandwich, along with fruit, chips and a brownie/cookie type of dessert.
One of the most magnificent things was the moment they turned off the engines on the boat and everyone listened silently to the sounds of nature. In our busy world, the opportunity to have nothing but silence is very rare.
It's going to be an all-day venture, but is well worth it.

Date of experience: September 2014
2  Thank oceanloversd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 30, 2014

Where do I start, we originally planned Milford but all the locals & even further up North told us to do Doubtful Sound & they were correct, what an amazing experience, bus ride from Te Anua then boat trip over the lake, then another bus ride (snow on the road & sprinkled over trees beautiful) our guide stopped so we could take photos, then onto the boat for Milford Sound, OMG words can't explain how gorgeous it was, waterfalls, snow capped mountains, Dolphins, Fur Seals then out to the mouth of the Tasman Sea, photographers dream & we took hundreds, loved every minute of it, we can't recommend this tour highly enough, tour staff was great very friendly, explained heaps along the way. This is a must do well worth it you won't be disappointed.

Date of experience: September 2014
3  Thank ellebella01
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 22, 2014

A well organised trip with Realjourneys. We did it starting from Queenstown so an early start! Every member of staff was helpful and informative and very professional. Unfortunately we missed the trip to the power station on the way back as we were last off the boat and the coaches going there were full (maybe a system of checking people's tickets before they got on the coach would have been a good idea here) but we were given a refund on our return and didn't really feel it detracted from the day.
Doubtful Sound was New Zealand at its best...spectacular scenery, unbelievably peaceful, and the added bonus of sighting dolphins and fur seals.
Thanks especially to Paul Brown (Brownie) our coach driver, who gave such an interesting commentary, and was so friendly and helpful!

Date of experience: September 2014
Thank rosmcis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 21, 2014

Compared to the day-trip/cruise in Milford Sound, this is so much better. If you have time and money, stay as long as you can and base yourself in Te Anau, so you spend more time in the fjordland and less time driving from Queenstown.

Although it's expensive (about $200 more than the day cruise), it's worth it to have more time to enjoy the nature, take the optional kayak or tendercraft ride, and indulge in some of the best buffets I've ever had.

GETTING THERE:
If you depart from Queenstown, be prepared to leave early. You'll stop for a break / snack around 10 am, probably at the Five Rivers Cafe before you get on the transit boat across Lake Manapouri. From there, it's a short bus ride to the dock.

ROOM:
I stayed in a four-person room with two bunk-beds and an ensuite toilet. The bed was very comfortable and ensuite extremely convenient.

FOOD:
The buffets for dinner and breakfast were delicious! A couple of the best meals I've ever had (including lavish business dinners at Keen's steakhouse and the decadent Four Seasons champagne breakfast in Baku). Excellent quality and lots of variety. Cannot compliment the chef enough.

COMMENTARY:
Very good commentary from the staff, especially the nature talk at the end of the first night. You learn a lot about the local flora / fauna and what makes fjordland so unique. (No spoilers.)

ACTIVITIES:
- Optional guided kayaking or trip on the tender boat on the first afternoon / early evening after you drop anchor in a sheltered inlet
- It was too cold when I was there, but I heard you can swim.
- Informational nature talk in the evening
- Collecting fresh drinking water from a waterfall.
- If the skies are clear, stargazing
- And finally, my favorite part - The Moment of Silence. On the way back to Deep Cove in the morning, the captain took us to a quiet spot, turned off the engine, and asked everyone to go out on deck, be still (no photos, walking, or talking), and just take in the tranquility of the fjord and the natural sounds.

Definitely have to go back for the five-day camping / kayaking excursion.

Date of experience: May 2014
7  Thank D C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 19, 2014

We did the one day trip from Queenstown.
Real Journeys service and organisation of the trip is brilliant and everything flows without a hitch.
All the bus and ferry drivers we had along the way were excellent - friendly as well as giving some great information on all of the places we were seeing, without too much information overload.
The first bus ride is quite long but the scenery along the way is wonderful, so you barely even notice the distance.
Once we got to the Sound the weather was clear and we got to see some of the most breathtaking scenery and wildlife, including dolphins and crested penguins - we were extremely lucky.
A huge plus point for me was that we were the only ferry on the Sound for the entire trip, so you don't get the sense that you are being overcrowded by other boats and people.
Although the cost of the one day trip may seem expensive, based on the amount of travelling you do and the logistics involved, I definitely think you get value for money.
Seeing the underground hydro power station on the way back from the trip was fairly interesting but I wouldn't have been too concerned if we had not done it.
Don't worry too much about packing your own lunch as their are plenty of sandwiches and snacks available on board the ferry.
To sum up, it is quite a long day doing the trip from Queenstown but incredibly well worth it!

Date of experience: September 2014
2  Thank Mark S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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