Went on the Tutoko II boat for an overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound (DS) on January 19th. Although the cruise is run by Fiordland Expeditions, we met Mandy Abernathy at 9:20 a.m. at the Real Journeys office at Lake Manapouri for a 45 minute cruise across to the lake followed by a 20 minute shuttle across the mountain to DS. The Tutoko II is a converted ferry boat (perhaps 30 years old) that sleeps 14 guests in 5 rooms, 2 ensuite. It is by no means luxurious but is perfectly comfortable.
The boat is crewed by Sean and Maria (an energetic, competent, enthusiastic and fun-to-be-around young couple) who did everything possible to make our experience memorable. We cruised out to the Tasman Sea, which took several hours, we stopped so that Maria could SCUBA dive for lobsters and mussels and then fished to catch the rest of our dinner.
The food was good and fresh. When we boarded lunch was a seafood mac cheese prepared by Maria. It is BYOB and although the brochure promised is a glass of "bubbly" when we boarded, that was not forthcoming. Dinner was fresh lobster and fish, a veggie, sautéed potatoes and cookies for dessert. Breakfast the next morning was fried eggs and accompaniments.
The DS is about 40 km in length (about twice as long as Milford) and the views are magnificent. The highlights of the trip were the views, the solitude, the personalization of a small boat, getting to talk with other guests (two couples from France and three women from Singapore), the fishing for dinner, and falling asleep and waking on the gently rocking boat.
Although we were there in NZ "summer," it was really cold and a ski parka and woolen hat would not have been out of place. When we were out of the wind and the sun was out it was warm, but absent either of this it was really cold. We had every layer on we had and still were cold.
It was a terrific experience overall and highly recommended for adults. This is not a trip for kids who would be bored and feel cramped by the size of the boats. Also, there is no internet which is nice of for the adults but not for kids and younger teens.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.