Doubtful Sound Fiordland Navigator

Fiordland National Park, Fiordland, New Zealand

At a Glance

  • Overnight cruise along the length of the Doubtful Sound to the Tasman Sea

  • Onboard nature guide giving talks and telling you more about the natural environment of the area

  • The chance to see wildlife including Fiordland penguins and New Zealand fur seals

  • Private twin or double cabins and one family cabin accommodating a family of four

  • Activities from the boat including kayaking, nature boat cruise and swimming (for the brave!)

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Best time to Visit

Good time to visit

Average time to visit

The Fiordland region is a remote and wild part of New Zealand and weather here can change by the minute. The fiords receive 200 days of rainfall per year, which classifies a day where significant rain has fallen, but rain showers occur almost daily, and often visits will be misty and moody and cloudy whatever time of the year you are visiting. This is very much a part of the atmosphere of these dramatic fiords and if you do find yourself with sunshine and blue skies, make the most of it and count yourself lucky! You'll want to bring plenty of warm and wet weather clothes, including rain jacket, woolly hat and layers, again regardless of the time of year due to the changeable climate. On board the ship is of course nice and warm, but you'll want to be out on deck for a lot of the journey, when the weather permits.

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Insider's View

Without doubt this is the best way to experience Doubtful Sound.

Make sure to take insect repellent - the sandflies that live along the shore of the vegetation can be quite pesky!

Take a dry-bag if you plan to kayak and want to take your camera or phone for photos.

To start planning your holiday to Doubtful Sound Fiordland Navigator


An overnight cruise on the Doubtful Sound is without doubt one of the best ways to experience Fiordland in all its glory. The Fiordland Navigator cruises through the sound to the Tasman sea, stopping to kayak and see birdlife and wildlife on the way.

Spend a day and night cruising through the spectacular fiords of southern New Zealand on the Fiordland Navigator. The ship accommodates up to 72 passengers and has a superb crew including a knowledgeable nature guide who will tell you more about the formation of the fiords and the wildlife in the area which includes Fiordland penguins and New Zealand fur seals.

Doubtful Sound is not the easiest place to access, but its remoteness is all part of the appeal. To reach the ship you depart by boat from Manapouri across Lake Manapouri, then take a coach over the Wilmot Pass to reach the head of Doubtful Sound. From here you set sail through the fiord, quite likely experiencing all kinds of weather during your cruise. It rains 300 days of the year down in the fiords, so you'll need to be prepared for rain, sunshine, mist and everything in between.

In the afternoon the boat will stop for a while, weather-permitting, to allow passengers to enjoy a choice of kayaking or nature cruise on the tender boat with the nature guide. Both last approximately 45 minutes and are a lovely way to get close to the walls of the fiords and take in the tranquility of this beautiful place. Afterwards, the brave amongst you can take a swim if you wish!

You'll cruise right out to the Tasman sea, hopefully spotting some colonies of New Zealand fur seals on the way, and if you're lucky some Fiordland penguins. The ship docks overnight and you'll enjoy a three course buffet dinner and a talk presented by the nature guide afterwards. The following day you'll cruise back up the sound, enjoying waterfalls and spectacular views along the way.

There are a choice of accommodations on board, all simple and functional - don't expect a luxury experience. There are bunk rooms, which are more for independent travellers, and private cabins which is what we would recommend. These are configured as twin or double beds, or one family cabin with bunk beds accommodating a family of four and all have ensuite shower rooms.

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Katie Fewkes (Staff)

Whilst the ship itself is not luxurious, the experience more than makes up for it. The Doubtful Sound is the less famous of the fiords after Milford Sound, but far less commercial - we didn't see another boat at any point, and surely this is what you want out of your adventure in Fiordland - total seclusion and the chance to take in the dramatic landscapes around you. I stayed in a private cabin, which was simple but comfortable - the radiator helped keep me warm, and the shower was hot the next morning. The food is hearty and tasty, and the crew are really friendly and helpful. There's a whole mix of passengers on board with a whole mix of ages and nationalities, couples, families, photographers and backpackers. The atmosphere is very convivial and relaxed, and it felt like we saw so much in the time we spent on board. Overall, a real highlight of my trip in New Zealand.


  • Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise (Shared)

    The dramatic expanse of Doubtful Sound is best explored by boat, traversing the fiord and surrounded on all side by the steep peaks, native bush and crashing waterfalls.

  • Dusky Sound Heli Tour

    Take to the skies for a spectacular view of the pristine rainforests and islands and inlets of Dusky Sound. Landing on a floating heli-pad you will hike the deserted coves and fish the abundant waters of the fiord.

  • Jet Boating & Walking in Matukituki Valley (Shared)

    Deep in the Matukituki Valley, this exciting half day jet boating adventure will take you beneath the breath-taking scenery of mountains and glaciers, Lord of the Rings and Hobbit locations, into the World Heritage Mount Aspiring National Park.

  • Private Helicopter Charter Fiordland Traverse

    The remote and dramatically beautiful landscape of the West Coast, Fiordland and World Heritage Park are best discovered by helicopter, high above the rugged peaks, expansive waterways and pristine wildernesses of the region.

  • Te Anau Glowworm Caves (Shared)

    Experience the enchanting caves of Te Anau, which shimmer with the light of hundreds of glowworms.

Location & directions

Fiordland National Park, Fiordland, New Zealand

The Doubtful Sound Fiordland Navigator is based in Doubtful Sound itself, one of the remote and wild fiords that make up South Island's rugged southwestern coast.

Speak to our specialists 3165 4050

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