Milford Sound isn't the only place you can get an awe-inspiring cruise near Te Anau. In fact, if you drive the two hours from Queenstown to Fiordland you can experience the dream-like Doubtful Sound. This particular fiord is deeper than its more northern counterpart, and has three distinct, though all equally beautiful, arms to travel down. It is both 10 times larger than Milford as well as three times longer, so make sure to include it on your nature adventure.
Cruising the fiord
Instead of taking the winding road to Milford Sound, drive just 20 minutes south of central Te Anau to the town of Manapouri, where a Doubtful experience begins and believe me getting there is part of the adventure.
For a fascinating day trip, book into a single day cruise with a company such as Real Journeys. You will begin with a boat trip across Lake Manapouri before landing and beginning your coach journey over the remote Wilmot Pass. Weave your way through the lush, forested mountains of this place to hear about its geological history, as well as see countless dramatic sights. Something you will immediately notice is just how utterly silent Doubtful is. There is no human noise here beyond whatever you and your boat make, leaving your ears open to the orchestra of bird and insect noises, as well as the gently rolling waters.
Alternatively, you could also book into an overnight cruise which also includes a private cabin to sleep in, a three-course buffet dinner and even more sights to see. During the day the boat anchors in a serene little cove and turns its engines off, giving you the chance to get on a kayak, go for a swim or just relax and listen to the silence. If you're fortunate you will see fur seals, dolphins, and the Fiordland crested penguin. Sometimes these animals will come right up next to the boat or your kayak, so make sure to have your camera ready!