Sailing around and through New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park on a rainy, cloudy, overcast day is an almost surreal experience. Although we were scheduled to visit three of these astonishing fjords, several days of torrential rains in the Milford Sound area prevented us from seeing that one. Mudslides, road closures, and rising rivers resulted in close to 500 people (195 tourists and 300 staff) being stranded at lodges and on tour boats until they could be safely evacuated by helicopter. The government declared a state of emergency, and the Viking Sun was denied access to Milford Sound.
Nonetheless, our visit to the Dusky Sound was pretty spectacular. Named by Captain Cook when he sailed by at dusk on his first voyage in 1770, this spot holds one of the area’s largest, most intricate fjords, at almost 25 miles long. Because of the recent rain, we saw lots of waterfalls cascading down from the verdant green hills into the dark deep waters. As we sailed through, we were delighted by incredible views of diverse terrain and Resolution Island. Although some of these shots look like black and white, this was the actual color we saw until the sun peaked through the clouds, revealing the tree-covered hills.
By the time we arrived at the Doubtful Sound (also named by Captain Cook who, when he encountered its maze of rocks and cliffs wasn’t sure he would be able to navigate through it) the weather had taken a turn from bad to worse. The resulting waterfalls cascading through crevices and valleys provided the silver lining we needed to get through this visit. The views on both sides of the ship were absolutely breathtaking, and it was well worth braving the elements to experience this astonishing place.
As we left the fjords and headed out to the Tasman Sea (named for Dutchman Abel Janszoon Tasman, first European to set foot on New Zealand and the island of Tasmania in the 1640s) we didn’t realize that we were in for a pretty wild ride! Adverse weather conditions continue, and we’re experiencing huge swells as we write this post. As a result, we’re forced to just go with the flow (easier for Doug than Denise!) as we “cross the ditch” (the term Kiwis and Aussies use for the Tasman Sea voyage between their countries) and trust Captain Lars and his crew to navigate these rough waters safely and securely.