New Zealand’s South Island: Te Anau, Doubtful Sound and the Kepler Track

Up to now, I have only ever associated fjords with Norway. But they also exist in New Zealand. Located in the south of the South Island. Tours are offered to Mildford and Doubtful Sound. The latter is much larger, harder to get to and therefore much more expensive. Nevertheless we have chosen exactly this one. And we did something else unusual for us: We booked the early riser tour, which starts around 6:15 in the morning.

It was worth it in any case. We had perfect weather, which in Fjordland means fog and low clouds. This gives a very mystical touch to the beautiful landscape 🙂 .

Tour to Doubtful Sound

In the early morning a big bus with a very nice driver picked us up at the hotel in Te Anau (yes, the Kingsgate Hotel was actually cheaper than the Airbnbs) and drove us to Lake Manapouri. We crossed the lake by boat, before our group was taken by bus the last part to Doubtful Sound.

At the lake the sky was still bright blue, at the fjord the clouds hung super low, it was super cold (I wore a thick scarf the whole time) and foggy. But as said: best fjord weather!

On the boat there was coffee, tea and hot chocolate for everyone (included in the tour price) – and we also needed the drinks to warm up.

Sea lions and dolphins at Doubtful Sound

We were lucky, because the sea was calm enough, so that we could go to a sea lion rock, on which actually countless of the fat animals romped around. On the way back we were even able to watch dolphins!! Unfortunately we didn't see any orcas (they are there, too), but I was more than happy anyway. How beautiful and absolutely impressive the landscape is, I'll just show you..

It pays to get up early

By the way, after our tour the visibility became worse and worse – I think, the group after us, saw almost nothing. So better get up early! We booked through (like already our Cadbury tour). Cost 431 dollars – and it was worth every penny!

Tip: Miles Better Pies & more in Te Anau

After the tour (it ends around 3pm) we bought some delicious lamb and beef pies at Miles Better Pies & more (you'll find them in downtown Te Anau). These meat pies are not to be missed at all.

I wasn't necessarily the biggest beef pie fan in Australia, but in New Zealand I ate some all the time. They are just so much better there, because the Kiwis put less sauce but more meat in their pies. So delicious!

Kepler Track

From Te Anau not only a tour to Doubtful Sound is worthwhile, but also one to the numerous hiking trails in the surrounding area.

In New Zealand there are many great hiking trails, which can only be explored by a tour lasting several days. One of these trails is the Kepler Track, not far from Te Anau. We took the first stage: We started about 5 kilometers southwest of Te Anau and walked up to 1031 meters (just before Luxmore Hut). That was 22 kilometers in total and it took us approx. 6 hours.

The first 5 kilometers lead directly along the lake Te Anau. Then begins the ascent, which is strenuous, but easy to manage.

By the way, if you want to spend the night in the hut, please note that it is often fully booked during the peak season (January).