On the way back on the second day, we were taken into a pristine bay and instructed in the rules of a moment of silence. We were to take our positions so that even the sound of someone’s sneakers slapping on the steps wouldn’t disturb the silence. Of course, we couldn’t take pictures either, not for our “moment,” though we could all happily resume video and photos as soon as it was over.
The sounds of the bird life in Doubtful Sound are faint, perhaps because not so many birds exist due to the introduction of predators to which the native species were not adapted. But with all the engines off, including the generators, and everyone being quiet, birds could be heard calling to one another in the trees on the mountainside.
The water was so still the mirror it made reflected even quite distant waterfalls.
The air was pure and the moment was as spiritual as any I’ve ever experienced.
On the way back after our overnight, the nature guide explained that it’s really difficult to appreciate the scale of the mountains. He was taking us toward an indentation at the bottom of one of the mountains, and he said when we arrived, the prow of the ship would fit below the cave. That seemed impossible because the cavern looked tiny from a distance, compared to the mountain above it. But sure enough, when we pulled up to the cavern, the prow was smaller, and it was a big ship.
We were having really good luck with the waterfalls because of all the rain. The water that comes down the mountains through the rain forest is naturally filtered by the moss and safe to drink. More than safe, the water is pure. The nature guide actually collected the water and we drank it! It was cold and fresh. It wasn’t bubbly, though! The moss does not accomplish that.
Real Journeys gets a lot of credit for this tour. They made it an extraordinary experience for us. Even though they do it all the time, they lavished the experience upon us, knowing it was our only time, an experience of a lifetime.
I was satisfied after the water adventures part. Already I had had a delightfully narrated bus ride from Queenstown to Manapouri, a very nice ferry ride across Lake Manapouri with free coffee and tea…or good beer (not free), and then a stunning bus ride over Wilmot Pass, including commentary about the ecosystem of the rain forest through which we were driving. Did you know moss is essential to the New Zealand rain forest ecology? Then we had warm muffins, saw a lot of beautiful mountains in the fiord, and went on a nature ride in a tender boat. I thought we were done. But oh no…we were just getting started, and so you, my blog readers, are also just getting started on my recap of the Doubtful Sound tour.
When we first arrived on the boat, we had our safety lecture and were introduced to the crew. The crew all stood ramrod straight in their uniforms. They were confidence inspiring, while still being friendly, wearing big smiles and making eye contact with the passengers. After that we were assigned to our staterooms where we could put our bags. I also took a little rest.
As a result of my dawdling, we were late getting up to the dining room for the muffins, and there were only 3 left. I took our two and set them on a table then went to tell my husband what I wanted to drink, as he was queued up for the coffee and tea. When I came back, someone had swiped one of our muffins!
I was really mad. Possibly they thought it was part of the pile to be taken, but it didn’t seem that way as those were in a basket and ours were laid out with napkins beside them. I was really mad!
Well, my husband came over and was kind of ticked too, but not as much as I was. I don’t know why. I was in kind of a bad mood to start with, I guess. I’ve since learned that cruises stress me out. I didn’t realize it until I saw a picture of myself taken by the ship’s photographer on the Bay of Islands cruise. I can see from my body language that I was anxious. I didn’t realize it until I saw the picture later, but then it wasn’t hard to figure out why. I don’t really like tours, especially on boats, because you have no control. You are along for the ride, and if the tour does something you don’t like, there’s no escape. Add to that my tendency to get seasick, and I really don’t like cruises. On this particular day, I also had a slight cold.
Anyhow, back to the muffins. I wanted that dang muffin! I was so mad someone “stole” it. Oh yes, I said that already, didn’t I? I knew that the missing muffin may have been an innocent mistake, but I wasn’t ready to stop being mad. Well, my husband told Jax, one of the crew, and she laughed and said maybe it was the cold weather that had made everyone peckish. (That means hungry.) Jax told the chef, who then made me one more muffin. About 15 minutes later it arrived, hot from the oven.
Then I was really happy, and, in fact, it was the best muffin I ever had. I asked another crew member for the recipe, he asked the chef, and the chef gave it to me! She had to hand write the recipe because it is taped to the wall in the galley. She also had to scale it down a lot because her recipe is for 150 people, (or 149 as the case may be!). I mention those details because we rarely see inside a commercial kitchen and I thought it was interesting that she has the recipe taped to the wall and that it’s such a huge amount. When she cooks, she really cranks out a lot. She is an amazing chef, by the way. The meals were firs rate, with excellent vegetarian options too.
When I make the muffins, I’ll put up some photos for you.
Here are three more pictures from my Doubtful Sound adventure.
Until yesterday, the Keukenhof Gardens were the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. I milked the tulip shots for a lot of posts, and I think I will be doing the same with Doubtful Sound. When I don’t have a new photo, you’ll be seeing something from the collection!
The tour company, Real Journeys, did an extraordinary job. I thought we were done after the water sports part, a couple hours in on the first day, and the rest would be resting and relaxing on the ship, enjoying the nice company of a lot of Australian tourists and a young American couple who are living in Queenstown. But they said there was a lot more to see, and they weren’t kidding.
One of the many great features of this tour was the nature guide. He was wonderful. I learned a lot and I have a lot of information to share with you along with a lot of photos. It’s a bit overwhelming, but one has to start somewhere, so I’m starting with my top four favorite photos. I have done nothing to alter these photos. I have done some creative modifications with some of the other photos, but I will tell you when I have made alterations. The reason I am calling attention to processing in this case is I want you to know the images, even the colors of the sunrise, show how it really was. I did have to adjust the horizon of one of them, though. It’s tough to stay straight on a ship, even with the horizontal guideline, which is one of my favorite features in my new camera.
Speaking of new cameras…I am hoping mine will be okay. It has had rain and fog on its lens and been dried with a lot of cotton shirts. Fingers crossed!! But even if it doesn’t last, the camera served very well on this epic journey.