Did you know...Doubtful Sound

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Doubtful Sounds Maori name is Patea.

Doubtful Sound was named Patea by the Maori settlers, this translates as “the place of silence” and, if you have ever visited you will see why. According to Maori legends, the fiords in this area were created by the god Tu-Te-Raki-Whanoa for providing refuge from the storming seas nearby. Tu-Te-Raki-Whanoa came from the south and worked his way up the island. Wielding a magical adze he split the rock open to let the sea rush in. In Doubtful Sound four young sea gods assisted him, using their adzes to carve out the four arms – First Arm / Taipari-poto (short), Crooked Arm / Taipari-nui (big), Hall Arm / Taipari-roa (long) and Deep Cove / Taipari-tiki (little).

Doubtful Sound was originally named Doubtful Harbour by Captain Cook.

Back in 1770 when Captain Cook sailed on by, he named the sound ‘Doubtful harbour’. He didn’t enter the inlet with his ship as he was uncertain whether it would be navigable under sail. He instead continued around the Island, eventually finding Milford Sound.  It was later renamed Doubtful Sound by residing whalers and sealers.

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The Wilmot pass was constructed in1963-1965.

The Wilmot Pass is a 671m high pass that connects the west arm of Lake Manapouri and Deep Cove in Doubtful Sound. The pass is named after E.H.Wilmot, a former road surveyor who had noted it while checking out the area in 1897. The road sits perfectly between Mount Wilmot and Mount Mainwaring.

Go Orange Cruise Doubtful Sound - Tasman Explorer


Doubtful Sound is a Fiord.

A fiord is an underwater valley carved by glaciers, generally narrow, with steep mountain either side. These U and V-shaped valleys are the work of ancient rivers of ice. The Valleys sit below sea level meaning when the ice retreats they become inundated with Sea Water.

However, a sound is usually formed by the flooding of a river valley, not a glacial valley. When the Early sealers and whalers renamed Cook’s harbour Doubtful Sound it should technically be called Doubtful Fiord.


The sound is approximately 40kms in length

That’s right, our little slice of heaven is 40 kilometers long. Doubtful Sound is the second longest and sits at depths up to 421 meters making it the deepest of the South Islands fiords. Like the rest of Fiordland, Doubtful Sound receives a high amount of rainfall, ranging from an annual average of 3000-6000 millimeters.

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There is no direct access to Doubtful Sound.

This means you can drive yourself to Doubtful Sound, unlike its better-known sibling Milford Sound. The closest you can drive is to Lake Manapouri visitor centre, you then board an hour-long boat to the West Arm. After your first boat ride, jump on a 45-minute bus ride over the Wilmot Pass and you have arrived at your destination. Deep Cove is the harbour where all boats depart and return. Here you will jump on the Tasman Explorer and adventure deep into Doubtful Sound.


Go Orange run cruise and kayak experiences here in Doubtful Sound.

Yes, yes we do! Travel with us into the heart of Fiordland National Park to discover dramatic landscapes and secluded coves as we cruise or kayak the inner fiords of Doubtful Sound. This intimate experience allows you to gain a deeper connection to the heart of Fiordland. We also offer an overnight camping option for the intrepid explorer. Head to our Doubtful Sound experiences here to find out more.

Book now for your Go Orange Doubtful Sound Cruise Experience