Doubtful Sound

Doubtful Sound, Te Anau Overview

Belonging to the Fiordland National Park along with the more popular Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound is a fiord located southwest of New Zealand. People come here exclusively to experience the serene beauty of the surrounding nature. Some adventure activities like snorkelling and diving are add-ons to the visitor experience here. However, as mentioned by visitors, the best way to experience the fiord is by cruising around the surrounding seas.

Doubtful Sound is 40 kilometres long and 421 meters deep. This makes the fiord the second largest and the deepest fiord of the South Island. It is spread out wider than Milford Sound, with cliffs of comparatively lesser heights. The fiord is 'U' in shape and is prominently shown. The area is wet most of the time as it receives heavy rainfall, just as the other fiords in Fiordland National Park. The average rainfall ranges from 120 inches to 240 inches. The dense native rainforest of New Zealand makes up most of the fiord's vegetation.

Read More on Doubtful Sound

What to Do

Doubtful Sound Cruise: As mentioned earlier, the visit to Doubtful Sound is ever more rewarding on a cruise boat, especially the overnight cruise boats that depart from Deep Cove. The cruise follows a trail covering the sunset in the evening with a delightful dinner on the boat. The mornings are blissful with absolute silence generating peace in the hearts of the people. The waters are not crowded with other cruise liners. At most, there will be one or two more. This could be termed as one of the quietest places on earth.

Diving and Snorkeling: Due to the permanent freshwater layer on the surface of the sea, the diverse marine life of the area is caught swimming in shallow waters. This makes for a unique and exciting diving experience at the fiord. The depth of the freshwater can vary from 1 to 10 meters. This would imply that it can be pretty dark during the initial part of the dive but as the freshwater is overcome and you reach the saltwater, you can see clearly all the splendid marine life before your eyes.


Due to the minimum access to the Fiord, the wildlife there is undisturbed. The vegetation consists of temperate rainforests. It is immensely dense with native trees. The birds inhabiting the fiord are also native birds.

The surrounding waters are home to exotic marine life. This is due to the fact that sunlight is blocked from entering the waters by the layer of freshwater on the surface. This layer of freshwater is from heavy rainfall. The corals and other marine-life grow at a shallower depth as there is no sunlight penetrating the water.

This makes it easier to catch hold of them. Many of the southern ocean creatures found here are dolphins, fur seals, whales, penguins and the Royal Albatross.


  • Captain Cook's uncertainty as to whether the inlet was navigable in 1770, earned the fiord the name Doubtful Harbour. It was later changed to Doubtful Sound by whalers and sealers.
  • In February 1793, a man named Felipe Bauzá y Cañas visited Doubtful Sound. He was one of the officers of a Spanish scientific expedition. He was one of the first charters to enter the Sound and to explore its lower parts. As he went on exploring, he kept naming many features of it.
  • Today these form a unique cluster containing most of the Spanish names on the map of New Zealand: Febrero Point, Bauza Island and the Nee Islets, Pendulo Reach, and Malaspina Reach.

How To Reach Doubtful Sound

  • Doubtful Sound is not as accessible as Milford Sound.
  • Driving till there is an impossible task as the Wilmot Pass road is not connected to the road network.
  • Boat cruises are the only viable transport facilities to visit the Fiord.
  • There are many cruise service providers that operate and offer day trips to Doubtful Sound.
  • There are overnight cruise options as well.

Top Hotel Collections

Top Hotels Near Doubtful Sound

Doubtful Sound Reviews

Your rating

Have a Question on Doubtful Sound?