The 3 Best Doubtful Sound Cruises [2024 Reviews]

New Zealand is easily one of the most breathtaking places on Earth, which can make it surprisingly hard to decide what to do while visiting!

I know I was wondering which sites would end up being worth it, and which were the tourist traps! Spoiler alert: the Doubtful Sound was one of the most incredible, naturally beautiful places I’d ever had the pleasure of seeing, and is always worth it!

I have carefully curated a guide to the top Doubtful Sound cruise tours currently out there, and if you have an entire day free, should absolutely be on your itinerary. Let’s jump right in!

Best Doubtful Sound Cruise Tours

Doubtful Sound Wilderness Day Cruise from ManapouriDoubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise from Te AnauDoubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise from Queenstown
editors choice
Location:64 Waiau Street, Manapouri 9679Hotel pickup and drop-off included88 Beach Street, Queenstown 9300
Start:7:30 AM or 10:00 AM9:30 AM6:55 AM or 7:40 AM
Duration:7 hours9 hours12 hours
Includes:Full-day cruise, live commentary on boardFull-day cruise, live commentary on boardFull-day cruise, live commentary on board

Tour Information & Booking

Tour Information & Booking

Tour Information & Booking

Quick Answer: The 3 Best Rated Doubtful Sound Cruise Tours For 2024

  1. Doubtful Sound Wilderness Day Cruise from Manapouri
  2. Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise from Te Anau
  3. Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise from Queenstown

Doubtful Sound Cruise Reviews

1. Doubtful Sound Wilderness Day Cruise from Manapouri

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 7 hours
  • Departure: 64 Waiau Street, Manapouri 9679
  • Departure Time: 7:30 AM or 10:00 AM
  • Includes: Live commentary on board

With so much natural beauty in the world now explored by visitors, it’s hard to keep things “untouched” or the way they are without human interference.

The Doubtful Sound falls into that category and is a fantastic alternative to the Milford Sound, which is known to have many more crowds. If that sounds like fun to you, do yourself a favor and check out the Doubtful Sound Wilderness Day Cruise from Manapouri tour!

What I love about this tour (aside from everything) is that it perfectly combines tranquility, wildlife encounters, and jaw-dropping landscapes!

The tour starts out by meeting up at the Visitor Centre in Manapouri, where we were checked in and headed to our catamaran vessel for the day, gliding across the serene lake.

Taking in the incredible beauty of the Fiordland National Park is worth it alone, so make sure to take plenty of photos and videos before arriving in the West Arm.

Upon arrival, we made our transition to land and got onto a well-kept coach with plenty of room, enjoying a scenic drive over the Wilmot Pass.

While I didn’t know this ahead of time, this stretch is actually known as the most beautiful in the world, complete with thick rainforests and jagged mountaintops!

As we cruised along, our guide did a great job of sharing entertaining anecdotes, historical and cultural info, and plenty of insights into the unique flora and fauna found here.

Whether you’re a wildlife enthusiast or simply love animals, you’ll enjoy getting to see adorable critters like the bottlenose dolphins, fur seals, and even the Fiordland crested penguin, if you’re lucky!

The Deep Cove wasn’t just a “cool” experience – turning off the motors here was an almost spiritual experience, where I felt like I connected with nature in a way I never have before. Please, if you’re on-the-fence about seeing the Doubtful Sound, do not pass this magical opportunity up.

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

2. Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise from Te Anau

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 9 hours
  • Departure: 85 Lakefront Drive, Te Anau 9600
  • Departure Time: 9:15 AM
  • Includes: Lake Manapouri cruise, Doubtful Sound cruise, Air-conditioned vehicle, Live commentary on board

If you have a day free to explore, allow me to suggest this incredible adventure into one of the most remote, untouched corners of the world.

The Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise from Te Anau tour is a raw, unbridled experience that combines multiple modes of transport to immerse you in the natural beauty of this pristine region.

From lush rainforests to crystal-clear waters, this is a perfect day filled with gorgeous scenery and fantastic guides to lead the way!

We started off in the morning, with a comfortable van ride to Manapouri which was a very relaxing way to start the tour, while listening to our guide tell us about the areas we passed by.

The air-conditioned vehicle was nice and spacious and allowed us some time to really learn before we arrived to our boat ride tour. Seeing the sound was jaw-dropping, with a kind of raw beauty that makes it feel like you’ve stepped into some sort of legendary movie set.

The boat ride was simply breathtaking, with the vessel offering plenty of room and stability to enjoy different perspectives of the panoramic lake views and the dense Fiordland rainforest.

Honestly, this little cruise alone is worth it, but you’ll love the journey over to Wilmot Pass as well, complete with gorgeous alpine moss gardens with the Doubtful Sound glistening in the background.

Upon arrival to the mysterious Deep Cove, we boarded a nicely sized catamaran where we glided through this majestic UNESCO-listed national park that’s many times bigger than the bustling Milford Sound.

We had plenty of photo opportunities, and I wasted not a minute on taking videos of the granite mountains, tumultuous waterfalls, and even some bottlenose dolphins and seals!

I will say that this was a more tiring tour, but it was more than worth getting to see this rugged natural landscape in such an authentic way.

It’s perfectly representative of New Zealand’s uncompromising, untouched wilderness, with educated guides who will let you know everything you need about it!

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

3. Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise from Queenstown

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 12 hours
  • Departure: 88 Beach Street, Queenstown 9300
  • Departure Time: 6:55 AM or 7:40 AM
  • Includes: Live commentary on board

If you’re in Queenstown and would like a day away from all the hustle and bustle, this is the perfect daytime activity. The Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise from Queenstown is perfect for nature lovers, history buffs, or those who have an appreciation for beautiful views.

With professional, expert guides to lead the way, you’ll gain fascinating insight into the area’s ecology and history, further enriching this incredible travel experience!

The tour starts out with us heading to a convenient meeting point in the middle of Queenstown, which was just a few blocks from our hotel. We met up with our guide, who was super sweet and friendly, answering all of our questions before boarding our vehicle for the day.

As we cruised along, our guide regaled us with plenty of cool conversation complete with historical accounts, personal anecdotes about the area, and its ecology.

We finally arrived to Lake Manapouri, located in the expansive UNESCO site that is the thick Fiordland National Park, where we hopped on a ferry and explored the tranquil waters.

We then headed up to Wilmot Pass, where we stopped to take some incredible photos of us with the Doubtful Sound in the background.

After that, we headed back down to the amazing Deep Cove, where we witnessed plenty of cascading waterfalls and learned about how Deep Cove was only accessible from the ocean or Wilmot Pass until the 60s!

As an animal lover, I had a blast being able to see little fur seals make appearances, along with the rare Fiordland crested penguins and even bottlenose dolphins that played alongside our vessel!

Our skipper explained their natural behaviors and how the seals are much different from sea lions due to their smaller size and little pointy noses! It was a great time out in this wild place, with trusty staff there to ensure our safety and entertainment along the way!

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

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The Doubtful Sound Wilderness Day Cruise from Manapouri is our Editors Choice for the best Doubtful Sound cruise.

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