NEW ZEALAND OUTDOORS

New Zealand | Doubtful Sound

July 12, 2011

A half day of planes, trains, and automobiles, and we were finally on board our ship, and ready for our cruise. Our day pretty much went like this: more beauty, more wind, hot soup and warm bread, watching fellow tourist obsessed with drinking tea, watching American guy traveling with parents follow tourist obsessed with tea around the boat, kayaking, dolphins, dinnertime savagery, and the darkest, most silent night I have ever experienced. If we had been swallowed up by the blackness of the night, nobody would have ever known.

A note: this was probably the only time that I was made to feel bad for ‘lucking out’ with beautiful weather — the tour guides told us that the sounds were better viewed in bad weather, when the mist created the kind of eeriness seen in all the postcards and travel images of the sound. Oh well, guess sunny and beautiful would have to do.

IMG_2744IMG_2760IMG_2790IMG_2835IMG_2862P1010305After hours spent outside on the (freezing) deck, it was nice to tuck into the mess hall and enjoy a hot bowl of soup and some hot tea. Notice the couple behind me on the left? We didn’t know it yet, but we would befriend them days later in another town. P1010318

Once soup was done, it was time to kayak (or, if you didn’t want to kayak, there was an option of taking a group boat naturalist tour with a bunch of people). If you know me, you know I’m terrified of water, and when I found out there were no double kayaks, I had a minor panic attack. But, I got in the kayak, and paddled, and soon the peacefulness that came when your oars slice through the water calmed me down.

About an hour into our trip, one of the crazier more extreme tour guides started paddling in a very cartoon-like manner towards me. At the same time, I heard the loudest, shrillest scream ever known to man. The kind of scream that could literally shatter glass. It was one of the Japanese girl tourists going nuts. I started freaking out — what if a shark or whale or some creature was chasing the guy/attacking the girl (it’s besides the point that sharks wouldn’t be in the sound)? I looked over and a school of dolphins were swimming towards me…one jumped out of the water *this* close to my kayak. I didn’t have time to hyperventilate, it was way too cool.

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Our ship in the background

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We had some moments before dinner to watch the sun set around us. Everyone was too busy worrying about the buffet line, but for me and few other curious souls on deck, it was the most magical time of the day. The fog rolled in, and the water, absent of the daytripper tour boats, went practically silent. It was just our tiny little boat in the middle of nowhere at the edge of the world.

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Our Cabin room

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