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Multi-Day Wilderness Kayaking in Remote Doubtful Sound

Kayaking in Fiordland is one of the must do things while you are visiting, and this can be done at Milford Sound, it is suitable for all ages who are fit and have that outdoor spirit. One of the many experiences you can have being close to the water is the wildlife, keep your eyes out for the Fiordland crested penguin, a bottlenose dolphin or even a New Zealand fur seal!

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Itinerary
1 DAY MILFORD SOUND CLASSIC KAYAKING

4 - 5 hours of kayaking on the Sound + optional transport - the natural way to experience the dramatic beauty of the famous fiord. No paddling experience necessary.

Depart daily from Te Anau, the Divide or Milford - late September to late May.

Stage 1: For those requiring transport from Te Anau: you will be collected from your accommodation in Te Anau at 6.30am, journeying for 120km along NZ’s most spectacular alpine road, the Milford Road, a World Heritage highway. The journey is half the fun with highlights such as the famous Homer Tunnel wedged into a world of slab-sided mountainous rockfaces, icy-clear streams, avalanche scars plus the Cleddau Valley, the rocky gorge of the Chasm, Fiordland’s highest peak. You'll get all the history and conservation information on the way.

P.S. If you are unable to kayak when you reach Milford because of deteriorating weather conditions, you will be transferred on to a boat cruise instead.

Stage 2: For those meeting the group in Milford Sound: you join at 8.30am. Time for a hot drink and to change into your kayaking gear.

EQUIPMENT provided...

A friendly and experienced kayak guide who is also your driver; safety and kayaking gear including a double kayak, (unless you have significant paddling experience and skills); clothes for kayaking including warm thermal top and leggings, wetsuit vest, fleece top, paddle jacket, life jacket, spray deck, pogies, fleece hat, suncap, gear bag, camera bag; plus kayaking snacks, morning and afternoon hot drinks.

You bring... clothes for kayaking: swimsuit or shorts, soft shoes or sandals, socks and dry clothes for after kayaking; personal gear: lunch, drink bottle, camera, insect repellant, sunblock, sunglasses, towel, rainjacket.

Stage 3: Onto the fiord for 4-5 hours, after a safety briefing and paddling instruction. You will often encounter seals, penguins and sometimes dolphins. Like the weather conditions, such encounters, although not guaranteed, can determine the actual kayak route. The aim is to paddle to Bowen Falls, out to Harrison Cove, across to Mitre Peak before returning via Sinbad Gully and a lunch stop. Up the Arthur River to the end of the Milford Track and back to Deepwater Basin about 2.30-3.00pm - in time to catch a bus to Queenstown if you choose that option.

Stage 4: For those travelling back to Te Anau with the group, a hot drink and the return journey to Te Anau - some good NZ music and scenic stops on the way home. Back in Te Anau by about 6.30pm.

2 DAY RAW WILDERNESS KAYAKING IN DOUBTFUL SOUND

Two full days of guided kayaking in the pristine wilderness of the unspoilt Sound of Silence, home to fur seals, bottlenose dolphins, crested penguins plus overnight camping in the ancient podocarp forest with its native birds and lush tree ferns.

No paddling experience necessary.

Departs every Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday (October-April inclusive), with other departure days available during the peak season.


Day 1: A 6.00am start and as the sun rises an early morning journey from Te Anau to Manapouri. Travel by motorboat 30km across Lake Manapouri, a stunning lake. At West Arm you'll leave the boat and drive 24km from east to west over Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove. Preparation and instruction time and then kayaking for about 5 hours each day.

Like the weather conditions, wildlife encounters although not guaranteed, can determine the actual kayak route. The aim is to paddle down Deep Cove saying hi to any NZ fur seals on the way, and to Rolla Island, nesting place for Fiordland crested penguins. Into Hall Arm with lunch on a small beach, then to Mt Danae at the head of the Arm in the afternoon. You'll camp in a small clearing in the ancient podocarp forest, some evenings exploring the valley, listening for kiwi, morepork, weka. Time to experience the remoteness, the being alone in this raw wilderness.

Day 2: The stillness and silence of Hall Arm in the morning broken only by birdcall, lures you back to the kayaks -often the splashes and exhalations of Doubtful Sound’s resident bottlenose dolphins gives added impetus. Paddling out of Hall Arm the group will head down Malaspina Reach for lunch, if possible circling Elizabeth Island exploring Olphert Cove. Back to Deep Cove with a tail wind - test your kayaking skills or put the sails up for a cruisy trip home. Return to Te Anau by 7.00pm to civilisation (?).

3 or 5 DAYS MORE REMOTE, WILDERNESS KAYAKING

3 or 5 full days of more remote, more challenging kayaking and camping wilderness experiences, exploring the extensive network of Doubtful Sound's waterways. For those with time, energy, commitment, determination and a sense of humour. (Some paddling experience preferred for 3 day tours but only necessary for 5 day tours.)

Please enquire about tour prices.

For all Doubtful Sound guided tours there is a pre-departure meeting in Te Anau at 5.00pm the day before your trip.


TOUR DESCRIPTIONS

The following tour descriptions summarise possible 3-5 day guided kayaking tours. (All begin and end with the same transport process as the 2 day tour). Note: Weather conditions, wildlife encounters determine the actual kayak route.

3 DAYS GUIDED WILDERNESS KAYAKING:

Day 1: As for the 2 day tour, begin kayaking from Deep Cove, but instead of going into Hall Arm paddle down the main Reach, passing Elizabeth Island and Olphert Cove watching for seals and penguins and stopping near Crooked Arm for lunch. Afternoon paddling becomes more challenging in places - time to practise new skills. As we near the entrance to Crooked Arm the weather will decide whether we cross into the Arm or camp in a river valley opposite its entrance. Our campsite in the Arm is relatively close to the entrance in a sheltered bay beneath a waterfall.

Day 2: Stillness is normally the theme in the morning. The choice is to spend the day exploring Crooked Arm returning to our same campsite or leaving the Arm and paddling to Hall Arm for the night (see 2 day tour). Crooked Arm is a long narrow arm with a definite turning point like an elbow and often the afternoon playground of the resident bottlenose dolphins - their presence can dictate our paddling timetable! Time, energy and weather permitting we explore its length, sometimes put up the sails or take a break from the kayaks to walk through to Dagg Sound.

Day 3: Either explore Hall Arm or depart early from Crooked Arm to kayak down the southwest shoreline of Doubtful Sound having lunch on a beach opposite Elizabeth Island and possibly a look into Hall Arm - a challenging morning’s paddle with the weather being a determining factor affecting shoreline choice, lunch place and route into Deep Cove. Normally we put up the sails for our final stage, ending the 3 days on an exhilarating note, or an America’s Cup Challenge, kayak style!



5 DAYS GUIDED WILDERNESS KAYAKING:
(time to really venture into the wilds)
The plan is as follows but no two tours are the same... PLEASE NOTE WE ONLY VERY LIMITED DEPARTURES

Day 1: As for the 3-4 day tours, the destination for the first night is a small sheltered cove opposite the entrance to Crooked Arm or in good conditions a campsite at the junction of Doubtful, Thompson and Bradshaw Sounds.

Day 2: An early start continuing down Malaspina Reach, the fiord becoming steadily wider with glimpses of the open ocean in the distance. Secretary Island looms before us as we leave the Reach and cross one of the most exposed areas of the fiord - Pendulo Reach at the bottom of Thompson Sound - a major junction of waterways. Large shingle beaches appear on our right and if conditions are good we stop for morning tea. From here we paddle into Bradshaw Sound - characterised by steep inaccessible sides. Another favourite playground of the dolphins. Lunch is close to the junction of Gaer Arm, McDonnell Island and Precipice Cove, one of the most beautiful areas of the fiord. After exploration we either camp here or in Gaer Arm at the mouth of the Camelot River for the night.

Day 3: Hours can be spent in the graceful waterway of the Camelot, exploring a network of channels - images of the Amazon rainforest come to mind. Depending on conditions we may return down Bradshaw Sound paddling to the junction campsite or to the Gut Hut or on to Crooked Arm. Sailing the kayaks is an option whenever the conditions allow during the trip to give us a break from the paddling.

Day 4: A big day with an early start. The aim is to paddle out of Bradshaw Sound, around into Crooked Arm to the campsite near its entrance if we have not done that on Day 3. Either way, we explore the Arm, hopefully for some (more) time with the dolphins. A comfortable campsite, the evening becomes a time for reflecting on the trip so far.

Day 5: Stillness is normally the theme as we leave the campsite anticipating the challenge of the morning’s paddle down the southwest shoreline - a 3 hour paddle with no landing points. In marginal conditions we use the more sheltered northern shoreline. Lunch either in Olphert Cove or opposite Elizabeth Island and back into Deep Cove to return to Te Anau or Manapouri, hot showers and comfortable beds.

4 - 6 DAYS BREAKSEA & DUSKY SOUNDS - SOME OF THE MOST REMOTE WILDERNESS KAYAKING

BREAKSEA SOUND & WET JACKET ARM

4 days guided wilderness kayaking and camping. The wilderness adventure begins by helicopter into Breaksea - a rare opportunity to explore both the secret inner and wilder outer areas of Breaksea Sound and its islands at the edge of the Tasman Sea.

4 days: Available to groups of 4 to 7 people. Kayaking experience not necessary, but preferred.

1 OR MORE DAYS GUIDED KAYAKING - LAKES MANAPOURI & TE ANAU

(No paddling experience necessary.)

SCHEDULING & COSTS

Although not scheduled, we will operate tours on the lakes as long as we have a minimum of 4 people or equivalent price and advance notice. $95 per day per person from Te Anau or Manapouri.

TOUR DESCRIPTIONS

Vastly underrated because of their close proximity to the fiords, the glacial lakes of Te Anau and Manapouri are really very special wilderness kayaking venues - no-one lives out there, it’s all National Park. Carved during the glacial age the lakes are clear, deep water, edged with sandy beaches (great for camping), coves and cliffs, designed with islands, glaciated valleys, intertwined ridges, fed by waterfalls, pure mountain streams, cradled by classic Fiordland native bush and mountain scenery.

4 Days: Available to groups of 4 to 7 people. Kayaking experience not necessary, but preferred.

1 DAYS CLASSIC GUIDED KAYAKING IN MILFORD SOUND PLUS 2 DAYS WILDERNESS KAYAKING IN DOUBTFUL SOUND

Join a day’s classic kayaking in Milford Sound and then for two days wilderness kayaking in Doubtful Sound. See tour descriptions.

Please enquire about tour prices.

2 DAY GUIDED KAYAKING IN DOUBTFUL SOUND FOLLOWED BY 2-3 DAYS RENTAL KAYAKING ON LAKE MANAPOURI

Experience Doubtful Sound with a guide, including paddling instruction and then have your own wilderness experience kayaking back across Lake Manapouri - known as New Zealand’s most beautiful lake.

Please enquire about tour prices.

FREEDOM RENTAL KAYAKING TOURS
  • Lake Te Anau for 1 or more days
  • Lake Manapouri for 2 or more days

See Guided Tour descriptions for information and also see Choosing a guided or rental tour.

Experience:

RENTAL TOURS: are suitable for experienced kayakers:
(a) on the lakes, small groups with good outdoor experience and some paddling experience led by a competent paddler and outdoor leader;

Store your vehicles, bikes, spare gear, at our base in Te Anau - free!

Lakes return transport costs: free from Te Anau or Manapouri unless you need delivery to or from a remote part of the lake by boat.

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