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Real Journeys. Doubtful Sound is three times as long as Milford Sound and because there's no road access it receives far fewer visitors. The sides of the fjords aren't quite as in-your-face but they are just as beautiful, and there's a better chance of seeing dolphins and fur seals, too. Real Journeys runs a range of combined bus and boat trips. Most people take an eight-hour day trip from Lake Manapouri; there are bus connections from Te Anau and Queenstown. Some tours include a visit to the Lake Manapouri Power Station machine hall, an extraordinary engineering feat built deep beneath the mountain. Between October and May you can overnight on the sound, aboard the Fiordland Navigator. Rates include meals. Lakefront Dr., Milford, 9600. 03/249–7416 or 0800/656–502. www.realjourneys.co.nz. From NZ$245 for the day; NZ$417 for overnight.
Fiordland Expeditions. Fiordland Expeditions provides a very Kiwi overnight experience on their two boats, Tutuko and Tutoko II. With a maximum of 14 passengers, these are relaxed and personal trips and great if you want to do a bit of fishing, dive some of the excellent water beneath the boat, or just soak up the splendid scenery. There are private or shared cabins, mostly with shared bathroom facilities. All meals, (probably some crayfish for dinner), fishing gear, and transfers from Manapouri are included in the price. Deep Cove, Doubtful Sound, 9643. 03/249–9005. www.fiordlandexpeditions.co.nz. From NZ$450.
Jewel Charters. If you love the idea of a hunting, fishing, and diving trip with someone who knows this wilderness area like the back of his hand, then book yourself (and some friends) on Jewel Charters. Their 64-foot boat does multiday trips far away from the normal tourist routes and specializes in fishing (they caught a 324 kg blue fin tuna off this boat—a world record in 2007). There's a game-fishing chair, or you can don a wetsuit and dive for crayfish; you don't have to dive far and there'a a chef onboard to transform your catch into something amazing, such as crayfish risotto. They operate in Stewart Island as well as Fiordland and will tailor the trip to suit. Maximum eight people per charter; book well in advance. 0274/690–190. www.jewelcharters.co.nz.
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