Doubtful Sound is Fiordlands’ second largest fiord, and is second after Milford as New Zealand’s most popular
tourism destination. It is 10 times larger than Milford, although it can be hard to tell from
ground level as the fiord has several arms meandering off into the surrounding mountains. Lake Browne above Doubtful is the source of the Browne Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in the country falling 836m.
Doubtful Sound was named Patea by Maori. Patea translates to “The place of silence”. Unfortunatly that silence can only be appreciated by doing a kayak trip, not a flight!
The Sound also contains the only Spanish named areas in New Zealand from a Spanish scientific
expedition who charted the entrance and lower parts of the Sound in 1793, naming such features as Febrero
Point and Pendulo Reach.
Doubtful Sound was named by Capt James Cook, his journal entry stated, "A little before Noon we passed a little Narrow opening in the land, where there appear'd to be a very Snug Harbour, form'd by an Island, in the Lat. of 45° 16′ S.; inland, behind this Opening, were Mountains, the summits of which were Cover'd with Snow that seem'd to have fallen lately, and this is not to be wondered at, for we have found it very cold for these 2 days past. The land on each side the Entrance of this Harbour riseth almost perpendicular from the Sea to a very considerable Height; and this was the reason why I did not attempt to go in with the Ship, because I saw clearly that no winds could blow there but what was right in or right out, that is, Westerly or Easterly; and it certainly would have been highly imprudent in me to have put into a place where we could not have got out but with a wind that we have lately found to blow but one day in a Month. I mention this because there was some on board that wanted me to harbour at any rate, without in the least Considering either the present or future Consequences."
We offer two options for Doubtful Sound, a short flight of 35 minutes and a long flight of 50 minutes.
Doubtful Sound scenic flights are ideally suited for those who want to see as much as possible for the least amount of money.
For photographers wanting special photo flights over Doubtful or Dusky, see the photgraphy page.
Dusky Sound, Tamatea is Fiordlands’ largest fiord, named in english by Capt Cook as he arrived at Dusk. Cooks journal entry stated, In the P.M. had a fresh Gale from the Southward, attended with Squalls. At 2 it Clear'd up over the land, which appeared high and Mountainous. At ½ past 3 double reeft the Topsails, and hauld in for a Bay, wherein their appear'd to be good Anchorage, and into which I had thought of going with the Ship; but after standing in an hour, we found the distance to great to run before dark, and it blowd too hard to attempt it in the night, or even to keep to Windward; for these reasons we gave it up, and bore away along shore. This bay I have named Dusky Bay. It lies in the Lat. of 45° 47′ S.; it is about 3 or 4 Miles broad at the Entrance, and seems to be full as deep. In it are several Islands, behind which there must be Shelter from all winds, provided there is a Sufficient Depth of Water
Tamatea is the name bestowed on Dusky in recognition of the great Maori Explorer Tamatea who captained Takitimu. A large ocean going Waka that bought the Maori to New Zealand around 1350Ad. This Waka was destryed in a storm 100km south east of Dusky Sound.
Cook explored Dusky on both visits to NZ, first in the Endeavour and later in the Resolution where, at astronomers
point in Pickersgill Harbour, Cook would determine the exact latitude and longitude, from which he concluded his very accurate for the time, map of NZ.
Dusky is a pilots favourite due to the labyrinth of valleys and waterways, it has 356 islands, 17 arms and over 300km of coastline.
Doubtful Sound is included in this flight.
If the weather is good this is the one to do. We have a fairly high cancellation rate for Dusky Sound flights due to weather, with 10 metres of rain per year the sunny days are rare. We recommend making contact first to enquire about weather or have a few days either side of when you book.