Milford Sound cruises

Sep 18th, 2002, 01:30 PM
  #1  
Debbie
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Milford Sound cruises

Which is the best boat/tour operator to use for a cruise on Milford Sound? It sounds like they all go to pretty much the same places. Is one operator better than the other? Thanks!
 
Sep 19th, 2002, 12:15 AM
  #2  
john
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Take the overnight cruise on doubtful sound.
 
Sep 19th, 2002, 10:38 AM
  #3  
Debbie
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We can't take the overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound, but thanks anyway.
 
Sep 21st, 2002, 06:04 AM
  #4  
Jill
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On my recent trip to NZ (just returned last week) we took a day trip to Milford Sound from Queenstown. The boat this tour used was the Mitre Peak Cruises. I had picked this tour because the boat stayed in the sound longer and it was a small boat. There's no lunch provided but coffee/tea. To me the advantage of the smaller boat, is: it cruised longer, it deviates to see wildlife, and you're not fighting 50 other people to get a place to see the wildlife. I think they all do go the same place (the sound isn't that big) but the amount of time spent out is the difference. This one does go out to the Tasman Sea where we saw a southern right whale which is rather unusual for the sound! The boat did have underwater viewing portholes - but I never saw anything from them!
 
Sep 21st, 2002, 12:59 PM
  #5  
Joanie
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Jill,

What was the name of the company that you used for your daytrip? We are going to be there next year and are looking for recommendations for companies for a day trip to the Sound.
 
Sep 21st, 2002, 04:27 PM
  #6  
John
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Debbie:
We took a motor coach from Queenstown to Milford Sound and flew back. Glad we did it that way. At the end of the day we were not in the mood to motor coach it back. The plane trip took about 45 minutes.
Sorry can't remember the ship we were on. I think it was the Big Red Boat. Very enjoyable.
 
Sep 21st, 2002, 04:30 PM
  #7  
Jill
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The company is called eco fiordland tours. The price was $135 NZ which is much less that the big companies - they were about $170-190. This brochure doesn't have a web site but has a booking site "[email protected]" maybe they could give you the info. The reason I picked this tour from the many choices was (1) my first choice - can't remember the name but had BBQ in the title- wasn't running that day (2) They take a small coach (only holds 18) and (3) spent more time on the sound than the big tour companies. The day we went there were only 6 of us so we went in a van. The driver/tour guide is also one of the partners that owns the company. I really enjoyed it. We stopped for a break at TeAnau on the way to the Sound and again for a dinner break on the way back. We made lots of photo stops. The only improvement that needs to be made is the lunch. We ate on the boat a packed lunch from the tour company - sandwiches, apples, candy bar. But that wasn't really a big deal to me. I just really liked that it was a smaller tour group, smaller boat, and that we made plenty of stops. This is a fairly new company (atleast as far as going to Milford Sound - not sure about their other stuff - they lead lots of "tramps" and in February have a cruise to Antartica.
 
Sep 22nd, 2002, 06:02 PM
  #8  
Martha
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I've looked at the website fiordlandtravel.co.nz which offers a number of Milford and Doubtful Sound cruises. They sound like a good tour company with some smaller boats. I'm planning on a Doubtful Sound overnight cruise next March.
Martha

 
Sep 24th, 2002, 01:08 AM
  #9  
Steven
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Would one be missing out a lot more if one took the day cruise on Doubtful as opposed to the night cruise?Which is better-Doubtful or Milford?
 
Sep 24th, 2002, 04:38 AM
  #10  
john
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I don't know wether this a troll or not but....
the difference between the OVERnight cruise on doubtful and the few hour, larger scale, race around, day cruises of doubtful and milford is the difference between being a tourist or a traveller.
anchoring in snug cove and taking out the sea kayaks at dusk is great stuff...in the large day cats you just rip up0 and down the sound.

Of course Milford has the reputation but doubtful is my favourite.
 
Sep 24th, 2002, 04:45 AM
  #11  
Dick
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We deliberately drove from Te Anau so we could make the first crusie of the day.

We did this to get there before the multitude of tour buses arrive. Those cruises can be quite crowded.
 
Sep 24th, 2002, 08:36 AM
  #12  
Steven
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Apart from kayaking, is there anything else to do on board in respect of the overnight Doubtful cruise?We do not have any experience in kayaking and I am also concerned that my 3 very young kids and pregnant wife would be bored if they are unable to kayak, even if I could try for the novelty.How many does the kayak sit as that would determine whether I am able to take any kids with me on the kayak?
 
Sep 24th, 2002, 01:24 PM
  #13  
john
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Given your situation Steven go to milford and do a short cruise. It is a fair hike from Queenstown though for a day trip.Good luck
 
Sep 25th, 2002, 05:03 PM
  #14  
John
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Steven,

I think the other John's probably right about this; I guess it depends upon how laid-back your kids are.

As far as the kayaks go, they hardly require experience. But they're a bit unsteady, and I wouldn't want a child in my lap during the excursion. I imagine the tour company wants kayakers to be at least 12 years old or so.

This is not to say that the kayaking is the only added benefit of the overnight trip. If you don't kayak, you have the option of going out on a smaller boat (holds about 15) with a guide; during the trip on our boat (I did not go) the guide was able to show the group two crested penguins. Our trip also gave us the option of going through the Milford underwater observatory, a neat aquarium that provides a view of fish, etc. living beneath the surface. And then there's the added serenity that comes with being the only boat on the water.

The kayaking/small boat tour + underwater observatory + 3 course dinner is the extent of the evening activities; they were enough to tire out this twentysomething well before his normal bedtime. But if your kids are more energetic and need more activities and open space, the overnight might not be the right trip for you.
 
Sep 26th, 2002, 06:18 AM
  #15  
Steven
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Thanks John for your valuable feedback. After having considered all postings here, I have decided to spend 2 days at the Sounds;probably a short afternoon at Milford and a day trip to Doubtful instead of an overnight. Anyone tried the day trip to Doubtful with Fiordland, leaving from Manapouri?
 
Sep 26th, 2002, 02:03 PM
  #16  
john
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I think your plan is a good one given ur situation.
I guess you have to see MIlford given its reputation and the drive in is spectacular.
Fiordland has Doubtful pretty well wrapped up.Manapouiri is a small pretty town by the lake.They take a couple of cats across the lake each day.The overnighters and the day trippers share the lake journey.A bus crosses the divide over to the sound.They may want to put you on a power station visit...you need to consider wether you are interested in this.
If you are around the lakes/sounds at dawn or dusk MAKE sure you have lots of insect repellant...the sand flies will drive you and family crazy.

Doubtful does have a quieter and more remote feel.One day I am going to do the trek into Dusky sound...the one Captain Cook used to stay in after his voyage across the southern ocean.
 
Sep 26th, 2002, 05:26 PM
  #17  
Steven
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Do I need to make the bookings in advance or would it be wiser to arrive and select the tour we want? We're going end of Nov but we're unsure when we're exactly arriving at the Sounds as we prefer to play it by the ear and travelling with young kids is kinda difficult to stick to a strict schedule.
 
Sep 27th, 2002, 04:00 PM
  #18  
Jill
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The fiorlandtravel.com isn't the company I talked about in my earlier message. This is one of the big companies. Check out the boats they actually use - it's the big boats for Milford Sound - don't know if they also use the smaller boats. Plus, I think the have the large buses. The company I went with only has 18 seater buses. Because of the time of year I went (Late August - early Sept), didn't have the crowds.
 
Oct 1st, 2002, 10:37 AM
  #19  
Debbie
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Thanks for the help. Jill, since you just returned from NZ any other suggestions or highlights?
 
Oct 2nd, 2002, 04:41 PM
  #20  
Jill
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Debbie - not sure if you're interested in a particular area or all of NZ. We went to Queenstown, Christchurch, Rotorua, Auckland, and Bay of Islands. My favorite place was Bay of Islands. We did the day trip to Cape Reinga and one of the boat trips out to the hole in the rock. I also really liked the view from the gondola at Christchurch - even more so than the one in Queenstown.

New Zealand is such a beautiful country and has such a variety of scenery that you probably can't go wrong whatever you do. Traveling when we did had a real advantage of so few other tourists. We took 3 day trips inwhich we were the only ones on the tour! Actually we were the only ones on the 3 day trip up to the Bay of Islands.
 
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