Road Trip – Day 1

Queenstown to Manapuri

When you book a trip during shoulder season, typically you HOPE that the seasons favor the one to come rather than the one winding down.  Our first days here in New Zealand have more than favored Winter, rather than the Spring we had hoped.



Our first day on the road emphasized this with a mini blizzard as we worked our way out of Queenstown to meet a waiting boat for an overnight tour of the Doubtful Sound.  Our goal was to be at the marina by 11.40 to meet boat one, which would take us to a bus which would take us over the mountain pass and then we would be at the harbor for the main boat.

We arrived just after noon.  No boat at the marina. In that moment, we internally began to make alternate plans.  Luckliy, everyone and everything else was late.  Our boat would be an hour late.  To make things even better, the major busses the other tourists were on could not make the trip our humble Holden rental car plowed through. So instead of a full boat of 70 guests, 29 made the trip.  This meant the quad share room we had booked would be a Grant and Amber share only :)

Travel Tips

On a side note – one benefit to shoulder season is that instead of paying up to 700 dollars per person for this overnight cruise to the Doubtful Sound, we paid 200 dollars each.  This included the boat across the lake to the bus that took us over the mountain pass to the main boat, lodging, 3 meals, nature guides, kayaking, nature presentation and all of the return transport.  We booked through Real Journeys and I have nothing but positive feedback for the wonderful people we had guiding our tour.

Some may question why we chose Doubtful Sound over the more popular Milford Sound.  First, Milford sound may have a bit taller mountains that drop a bit steeper into the sea…but Milford Sound is tiny.  And super touristed.  More boats, more people, smaller space.  Doubtful sound is quieter, only one tour operator at this time of year, very few flyover tours and its huge.  The Milford sound could fit in one of the arms of the Doubtful Sound.  This isn’t a bigger is always better argument.  Where this helps is that we had many more opportunities to see dolphins, penguins, seals and maybe a stray whale because of fewer boats.  (And we saw everything but the whale…)  Second, the road to Milford closed because of snow and then an avalanche so it wasn’t even an option the day we had hoped to do one of these overnight cruises.


If you watched the video, we mentioned that we were missing a view to the right of the car because of snow…here is what we were missing.  (Taken during road trip day 2.)

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3 Responses to “Road Trip – Day 1”

  1. debbie cansler
    September 14, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

    What a great time! I love living this adventure with the two of you. It seems that everything worked out wonderful… Can’t wait for more love mom

  2. Linda Hendershot
    September 14, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

    Grant and Amber, your photo took my breath away! You all certainly selected the better of the two options for scenery and animal sites. You two are so very blessed to be able to take(at least part of) this journey together. Happy Trails. Hugs, Linda

  3. Charlotte
    September 16, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

    Great adventure! Sounds like Doubtful Sound was the best! Looks a little nippy in the video. Yah, Am, your face did get a little big at the beginning of the video. Too funny!!!!!!

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