Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Wednesday: Doubtful Sound

I awoke very early, around 4:30. Had breakfast and read a bit, and then walked outside to watch the sun rise over Lake Manapouri.

[photos to come when I get somewhere where I can put both devices on the internet]

Showered and then read some more until it was time to head out for the day trip. I parked at the harbour, and took a boat across Lake Manapouri, where a bus met us to drive us over the mountain pass to Doubtful Sound. There were about 20 people on the bus, but only 12 were part of my tour; the rest were heading out on a 5 day trip. Our trip was a three hour tour (everybody sing: "a three hour tour") of Doubtful Sound (so named because when Captain James Cook first saw it on his first voyage here, he thought it was narrow that he was doubtful his ship could get enough wind to sail back out against the prevailing westerly winds.

The day was cloudy and a bit foggy, with the clouds coming down to cover the peaks of the hills, and it rained a tiny bit at one point. Apparently that means we were lucky with the weather. We certainly were lucky with the wildlife, seeing several dolphins very close to our boat, crested penguins, lots of sea lions and a bunch of other birds. And the scenery was spectacular, as advertised, and reminded me of a similar boat ride I did in Western Brook Pond in Newfoundland. It was a really nice cruise all around Doubtful Sound, and getting right out into the Tasman Sea briefly before heading back in. The ship can handle up to 140 passengers, so there was plenty of room for the 12 of us.

[several gorgeous photos of Doubtful Sound here, including some of cute sea lions; bet you can't wait until I get a better internet connection that will let me upload them and insert them here...]

On the way back, the bus took us down into the Manapouri Power Station, driving 2km down a tunnel that took us about 200m under the mountain to see the main generating room. It was very cool driving down the long winding tunnel (I had assumed we would go down in a lift), and the power room was impressive. It's quite an amazing engineering achievement, basically building an artificial underground waterfall to drive the 7 huge turbines.

I got back to my hotel around 5:30, had a beer in bar while catching up on email & blog, had dinner and headed to bed early. I have a very long drive ahead of me tomorrow, and getting an early start will help.

1 comment:

  1. Brings back memories. We hiked in (I think it was only 3 days not 5 for us) and then did the boat tour. Looking forward to seeing the pictures.