We woke with sore muscles, but relaxed knowing that the big event for the day was a cruise on Milford Sound. We only had to walk downstairs for breakfast and then up the road about ten minutes to the boat terminal. Colin, Liam and I cruised Milford Sound with the Reed grandparents last February, but it was Doug's first time on Milford Sound.
In Fiordland, the mood seems to change dramatically with the weather. We cruised Doubtful Sound with the Kirkpatrick grandparents in April 2008, Milford Sound with the Reed Grandparents in February 2009 and then Millford Sound for a second time at the end of our Milford Track walk in December 2009.
With the Kirkpatricks, the day was wet and misty. The dark clouds never lifted. The whole world was wrapped in shades of grey and deep blue. Waterfalls flowed from every crevice. The water was inky, dark, and impenetrable. The sounds were a spooky, haunted, wild kind of beautiful.
On our recent cruise, the sun shone and the sound sparkled in vibrant colors. The water shimmered Caribbean blue. Green cliffs in the foreground popped against the deep blues of the distant mountains. Rata trees blossomed bright red amongst the beech. The sound looked ready for Christmas!
Our trip with the Reeds offered a mixture of both sun, cloud and mist.
The common question is which should I visit, Doubtful and Milford Sound? I think that there are two factors to consider. First, how much time do you have or want to spend? Second, how remote do you want to feel? Both sounds are stunning and breathtaking. There are fewer boats and almost no air traffic on Doubtful Sound. Doubtful feels more isolated and remote. To reach Doubtful Sound, however, requires a boat ride across Lake Manapouri and then a bus ride over Wilmot Pass. I think the roundtrip is about 8 hours. On Milford Sound there are several day trips, one is about an hour and a half and the other is about two to two and a half hours. There are also overnight cruises on both sounds. We did an overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound, which seemed worth the extra time and expense because the trip to the sound was so long. Out on Doubtful Sound late at night without lights or sounds of civilization, except for a few stars blinking between clouds, was magical. On the overnight trip, there was also an opportunity for a short kayak. When I return to one of the sounds, I would like to do a kayaking trip.