Following Christchurch, we are somewhat shocked descending the bus into the tourist scene that is Queenstown.
Still, we languish in the scenery, avoid the tourist areas (excluding the breweries and Patagonia ice cream), hike a bit and opt for a 2 night excursion on less popular Doubtful Sound (a fiord actually - look it up).
The highlight of Queenstown is definitely our Doubtful Sound trip. In order to get there, we travel by cab into town, bus to Manapouri, ferry across Lake Manapouri, bus on a gravel road over Wilmot Pass, and then we board the boat.
New Zealand’s modern environmental movement rose out of efforts to save Lake Manapouri in the 1960’s. Doubtful Sound sits in Fiordland National Park which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. A marine reserve is designated within Doubtful Sound.
This place is remote, lush, captivating, and we have a charmed experience. Sometimes it just works out like that - snagging the last spots on the boat, crisp sunny weather on the way out, misty mysterious weather the following day, just the two of us kayaking with a crew member (surprise reward for missing the instructions).
But the lasting moments are on the second morning. The other 70 passengers are waking up or hovering over coffee and breakfast inside because it is “wet” outside. We head out to complete solitude on deck and get to experience the mist and magic, the peace and hope that is this wilderness.
And I never feel seasick!