Five days in Doubtful Sound is an awesome paddling expedition no matter what the conditions. You can expect to experience calm, tranquil times, possibly some wild and challenging times, incredible scenery, hopefully some unforgettable marine mammal encounters along with Fiordland rain and sandflies!
Average to good fitness is needed, with preferably some paddling experience along with plenty of motivation, determination, an open mind and a sense of humour.
When driving to Manapouri please allow at least 3 hours from Queenstown and around 30 minutes from Te Anau. You will need to meet at the Go Orange Visitor centre for check in 20 minutes prior to departure.
Go Orange, Waiau Street, Pearl Harbour, Manapouri
Kayaking gives you a whole new perspective to this immensely overpowering corner of the world and here at Go Orange we aim to challenge the ordinary and leave you, our trusted travellers, with memories that are unsurpassable. We will take you deeper into the unknown, discovering islands, hidden coves and the dramatic landscape. Doubtful Sound is also one of the wettest places in Fiordland National Park, kayaking here is an unforgettable experience, no matter the weather. With this in mind, we have prepared the following list in case we encounter all the elements.
Camping/ After kayaking
Please wear your swimsuit or kayaking underwear layer beneath warm clothes/waterproof jacket on pick-up (makes changing into paddling gear easier and quicker). The best way to carry your other gear to the launch point is in a backpack.
On a kayaking trip, you will eat more than usual and there is plenty of storage space on the kayaks. Bring food that is simple but nourishing. Please remove excess packaging and carry food in bags (supermarket cloth bags are ideal).
Sea kayaking and wilderness camping have inherent risks and can be dangerous. In Fiordland, they are characterised by: remoteness, rapidly changing and sometimes extreme weather and water conditions, cold water, limited kayaking landing sites and camping under forest canopy.
Detailed risk management and strict safety procedures are observed, however, there still remains an element of risk. Go Orange cannot absolutely guarantee participants safety. Go Orange accepts its legal responsibilities but cannot be held responsible for personal injury or for loss, theft or damage of/to your equipment outside legal responsibilities. Participants will be required to sign a liability form to this effect before starting a tour.
Changing conditions can mean that tours have to be modified. No two tours are the same. It is very rare but weather could delay your scheduled return by up to 24 hours e.g. road closures or weather conditions preventing kayaking. Clients on guided tours must listen carefully to and follow guides' instructions and adhere to safety requirements. Our reputation depends on your safety – we give it top priority and take it seriously.
When you book an multi-day adventure with Go Orange a pre-departure meeting will be organised. We will get together chat about the experience and ensure you have everything packed before we depart Manapouri.
How long will it take to get to Manapouri?
It will take around 30 minutes to get to Manapouri from Te Anau. If you’re coming from Queenstown, then allow just over two hours by car.
Do you pick up from accommodation in Te Anau?
We have a shuttle that runs to Manapuori for our Doubtful Sound experiences. We also have coach connections from Te Anau for Milford Sound experiences, please notify our staff when booking if you need a pick up.
Can we park at Manapouri?
Yes, car parking is free at Manapouri. Make your way to the visitor centre and park there. If the car park is full there is additional parking on View Street.
Do we kayak from Manapouri?
No. You will take the one-hour boat over Manapouri then a 45-minute bus ride over the Wilmot Pass down to Deep Cove. This is where the kayaking starts.
How long do we kayak Doubtful Sound for?
On the day trip you will kayak for 3 hours. On our multi night trips the kayaking each day will vary but will be around 3-5 hours a day depending on the next location and weather conditions.
What should I bring with me?
Generally, we need you to wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Bring wet weather gear and also food for the lunch stop. If you have booked one of our kayak trips, then you will receive a kayak itinerary detailing what to bring with you. If you have any extra questions, please contact the team at one of our stores or email email@example.com
Where do we go after the kayaking has finished?
You will return to Deep Cove then take the trip back over the Wilmott Pass before getting the boat back to Manapouri.
What do I bring if I am on the overnight experience?
Generally, we need you to wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Bring wet weather gear and also food for your trip. If you have booked one of our kayak trips, then you will receive a kayak itinerary detailing what to bring with you. If you have any extra questions, please contact the team at one of our stores or email firstname.lastname@example.org
What if it’s raining? Will we still camp?
Yes! It’s all part of the adventure, right? We have set up shelters and tents before you arrive on site so no getting wet while hammering in the tent pegs.
Can I shower during the overnight experience?
We don’t have access to showers out in the wild. Let’s be at one with nature this one time.
What if the experience is cancelled due to weather?
Our team will do their best to accommodate you on another of our experiences, if not you will receive a refund, or a date transfer will be available.
Can we visit the Power Station at Manapouri?
Unfortunately, due to health and safety reasons we can’t take you into the power station. However, you get a great view from the boat as we pull into West Arm.
Where do we camp?
For our overnight kayak experiences, we have set up a camp in the heart of Fiordland National Park. We will kayak on the first day of the experience and get you there safe and sound.
What if the kayak trip is cancelled due to weather?
We will do our best to accommodate you on another trip, there is always the option to cruise in Milford Sound. If not a date change or refund will be arranged.
What is the difference between Milford and Doubtful?
You will find both Milford and Doubtful Sound deep down in the South Island of New Zealand in the Fiordland National Park.
Milford Sound is around 13kms long and famous for its dramatic mountain peaks waterfalls. Home to Mitre Peak, it’s easy to see why people flock here.
Doubtful Sound is three times longer than Milford Sound, home to three arms named Hall, Crooked and First arm. Commonly known as the sound of silence and famous for Wildlife sightings, Doubtful is a real adventure experience.
What kind of weather will we experience in Fiordland?
Bring your raincoats as sometimes we experience all four seasons in one day. Rainfall is what makes Fiordland so unique, a land of rivers, waterfalls, luscious forest and fiords. You should be prepared to experience some rainfall during your visit, after all it rains approximately 200 days of the year. Please bring sensible clothing for cool and wet weather.
What is the difference between a sound and a fiord?
A fiord is a valley created from Glacial movement. Typically, narrow and steep sided, flooded by the sea after glacial retreat. A sound is a river valley that has been flooded by the sea, from and movement or rising sea levels. Throughout Fiordland our fiords are officially mapped as sounds, however we should call them fiords.
Is it worth visiting Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound on a wet day?
Yes, yes and yes. We say you haven’t experienced the real Fiordland unless it rains. The landscape is dramatic, rock faces are covered in waterfalls and the resident waterfalls are way more powerful. From the comfort of our boats you can experience the spectacular landscape.
Will I see any of the local wildlife?
The awesome thing about our local residents is that they are totally wild. Although we can’t 100 percent guarantee a sighting, Dolphins and Seals are spotted on the regular. If you’re really lucky you may see a Fiordland Crested Penguin or a whale!
What shall I bring on my kayak trip?
If you have booked a Kayak trip you should have received a Kayak Itinerary, this details everything you need for your experience. If you need extra information, please call our team or email them at email@example.com
Will we still kayak if it rains?
It may rain during your experience down in Fiordland, but that’s okay. We will still go ahead with your kayak experience if it rains. We base our weather decisions on the marine weather forecast and will only cancel if there was a threat to our safety.
What about the Sandflies?
When out in the water Sandflies are not a problem, however they do make an appearance on land. We suggest you bring strong insect repellent and wear clothes that cover your skin. For guided overnight trips we provide insect shelters, great for cooking, relaxing and keeping the little pests away.
How safe is kayaking?
We have awesome, experienced and knowledgeable guides that accompany you on every trip. We will provide you with a full safety briefing before each trip and ongoing instructions throughout the day.
Am I fit enough to kayak? Do I need any experience?
No previous experience is required to kayak with us on our 1 day experiences. We do ask that you are water confident and a moderate fitness level is required. You will be kayaking for at least 4 hours a day.
Is this a guided kayak tour or can we rent kayaks from you?
Our tours are guided yes, ideal for those without experience. The guides make all the decisions and give paddling instructions throughout the day. They add the local flavour and have a heap of local history and facts for you along the way.
We do not offer kayak rentals.
What is the minimum and maximum age for a kayak tour?
The minimum age for all our kayaking experiences is 16 years old.There is one exception, minimum age is 14 years old for our Kayak Milford Sound + Milford Track. There Is no maximum age, we just ask you are physically fit.
Can I fish from the kayak?
There is absolutely no fishing from our boats or kayaks in Fiordland due to our fragile eco system and Marine Reserve status.
Am I going to get wet?
Unless you opt for a swim it is unlikely you will get wet, from the ocean that is. If it rains, yes you will. We do provide you with a waterproof spray jacket and skirt to keep you dry should the heavens open.
Do you provide the kayak?
Yes. All our kayaks are double seated sea kayaks. They comfortably seat two, with enough space to store a few valuables in the hole or strapped to the front on the ropes.
How many people will go on the kayak experience?
Along with your guide then the minimum people on your trip will be four. There is a maximum of eight people per guide so if we have more people, we will provide more guides
Will I return on time from the kayak experience?
Yes, it is very rare that the weather will delay us. However, we have experienced it in the past, so we suggest you leave plenty of time after your experience for your onward journey.
What clothes should I bring?
Depending on the duration of you experience will depend on what you need to bring and this is totally up to you, however do pack light. Warm clothes, merino base layers are your best option. Bring comfortable clothes to sleep in, a hat, sun cream and sunglasses.
What kind of food should I bring?
Freeze dry food works well for packing, they are lightweight and nutritious. Pack plenty of muesli and protein bars, nuts and chocolate also go down a treat.
Do I need a sleeping bag?
Yes, please bring a sleeping bag.
Will we be on the same kayak experience as the day kayakers?
No, all are separate experiences.
Where do I get changed for the kayak experience?
We have a small base at Deep Cove where you will initially get ready, this is where you will get your thermals, spray jacket, life vest and spray skirt. We will conduct a safety briefing here and get you out on the Sound in your kayak.
Is there cell phone reception?
Where you are going, no. But that’s okay, lets disconnect from that world and connect with our natural world.
Are the guides first aid trained?
Yes, all guides are fully first aid trained. Our guides have received extensive training and will be competent in tackling any situation should one arise.
Will it be communal sleeping?
Yes, we have tents set up ready for you. You will be asked before we leave your preference on sleeping arrangements.