Day #93 - Sound-ing Off Again

We awoke after a very restful night in our hotel beds. Not having stayed in a hotel since arriving in New Zealand, it did feel a little odd to be back in the routine of hotel living - even for one night. 

After a lovely buffet breakfast, James took advantage of the swimming pool while I took care of yesterday's blog post. We could afford a relaxed start to the day since today's activity wasn't starting until midday and located just across the road from where we were staying - or so we thought!

Turns out, although we got the midday part right, the location was the next town over. Only a 20 minute drive, so no panic. Once packed we said goodbye to Te Anau, New Zealand's second largest lake and drove to Manapouri which sits on Lake Manapouri.

We did have plenty of time, so we stopped off at Whare Creek to see the Rakatu Wetlands. These have been deliberately created to tempt original wildlife back to the area to help undo some of the impact of a hydroelectric dam built in 1971. It seems to be working.

So what were we going to be doing today? Well, following on from yesterday's cruise in Milford Sound, we were sticking with the boat theme and doing yet another cruise but this time in Doubtful Sound. This cruise was to be longer and we were to be staying overnight on the boat! Proper cruising!!

The first stage of our trip was to cross Lake Manapouri on the boat above in order to catch a coach that would take us over Wilmot Pass to then rendezvous with our main vessel. 

It soon became apparent as people gathered to board the first boat, that our group was a small group! Only eight other passengers joining us for our 24hr cruise. It did seem a little odd to have so few people on such a largish boat! It did cross my mind that this was a little like the start of a classic Agatha Christie story - 11 strangers, meeting at the dock before being isolated together on a remote boat! At least there was lots of room on deck to take in the stunning views as we crossed Lake Manapouri.

At the far side of the lake, is Manapōuri Hydro Station, built in 1971. This underground powerhouse, the largest in New Zealand, harnesses the dramatic 230-meter drop between the lake and Doubtful Sound. Seven massive generators hum below the surface, producing enough electricity each year to light up over 600,000 homes. Its construction, however, was a feat of engineering that forever changed the landscape, raising environmental concerns that continue to echo today. 

We then boarded a coach to take us over Wilmot Pass. On the way we stopped off to capture a few stunning views. Cue photo collage!

The coach arrived at a small dock and we got our first glimpse of our home for the next 24 hours - what a beauty.

We boarded alongside our fellow passengers and got settled into our cute little cabin. We have a twin room because the doubles available had been taken by the time we booked. 
Soon after we were then casting off and on our way!

The views as we began our journey were stunning. One impressive vista after another. Unlike yesterday, the weather was on our side and allowed all this majesty to be revealed. 

We were again surprised by not really knowing what we signed up for when about two hours into the voyage, we stopped to go kayaking! This trip is getting better and better! I was already beside myself with the unlimited tea and the best muffins I have tasted for ages.

However, an opportunity to kayak in such a spectacular setting was not to be missed and so we jumped at the chance. 

Another opportunity that James literally jumped at was to do some swimming. You should already know by now how much he loves open water swimming. I stayed aboard to capture the moment he jumped in.

Later, we were treated to the most delicious roast beef dinner, complete with Yorkshire puddings! You know how much we both love a good roast dinner and this was excellent. How they managed to create such a plate of delight in such a small galley kitchen is truly remarkable. Pudding was equally as good!

The evening was spent relaxing and James challenged me to a game of Scrabble while our fellow passengers undertook Rummikub and cards. James won our game naturally and generously helped me out since it's not my game at all! 

Then it was time to retire to our cabins for the night. The beds, while small, were very comfortable. The room did get rather hot and would have benefited from better ventilation but on the whole, we got a good night's sleep.