Doubtful Sound Kayaking

Activities > Adventures > Doubtful Sound Kayaking

Doubtful Sound Kayaking

Doubtful Sound is a vast, untouched wilderness. Three times longer than Milford Sound, it has a sea surface area roughly ten times larger, due to its longer length and many side arms.

Multi-day kayak trips (choose from 2 - 5 days) are all about allowing yourself some quality time to experience a personal adventure; a sea kayaking and camping trip in a remote environment that epitomises what Fiordland wilderness is all about – and of course, having fun along the way!

Each day involves approximately five hours of kayaking amidst towering cliffs, waterfalls and lush rain forest. There are wonderful secluded waterways and islands to explore. Penguins, seals and dolphins are sometimes encountered, and bird song breaks the silence as we paddle the shoreline.

In the evening, we camp amidst the forest with fresh water nearby. Relaxing by the water's edge is a special place as dusk descends.

  • Travelling to Doubtful Sound involves crossing beautiful Lake Manapouri by launch and over Wilmot Pass per guide by coach/van
  • Experienced kayak guides – who carry all the safety and emergency equipment, make all safety decisions, provide helpful paddling instruction, comprehensive safety briefing and tell you about Doubtful Sound
  • Competence in water and moderate fitness required
  • Minimum age 16 years

If you want a kayaking New zealand experience there is no better place than Fiordland  with its bushclad mountains and secluded waterways.


5 DAY Doubtful Sound sea kayaking -

The plan is as follows, but no two tours are the same -

DAY 1 -

Our destination for the first night is a small sheltered cove opposite the entrance to Crooked Arm, or in favourable conditions a campsite at the junction of Doubtful, Thompson and Bradshaw Sounds.

DAY 2 -

Depending on day 1, an early start continuing down Malaspina Reach, the fiord becoming steadily wider with glimpses of the open ocean in the distance. 

Secretary Island looms before us as we leave the Reach and cross one of the most exposed areas of the fiord - Pendulo Reach - a major junction of waterways. Large shingle beaches appear on our right - time for a hot drink maybe.

From here we paddle into Bradshaw Sound - characterised by steep inaccessible sides. Another favourite playground of the dolphins. Lunch is close to the junction of Gaer Arm, McDonnell Island and Precipice Cove, one of the most beautiful areas of the fiord. After exploration, we either camp here or in Gaer Arm at the mouth of the Camelot River.

DAY 3 -

Hours can be spent in the graceful waterway of the Camelot, exploring a network of channels - images of the Amazon rainforest come to mind. Depending on conditions we may return down Bradshaw Sound paddling to the junction campsite or to the Gut Hut, or on to Crooked Arm. Sailing the kayaks is an option whenever the conditons allow during the trip, to give us a break from the paddling.

DAY 4 -

A big day with an early start! The aim is to paddle out of Bradshaw Sound, around into Crooked Arm if we have not been there on Day 3. Either way, we explore as much of Crooked Arm as time and weather allows. From our comfortable campsite, the evening becomes a time for reflecting on the trip so far.

DAY 5 - 

Stillness is normally the theme as we leave the campsite anticipating the challenge of the morning's paddle down the southwest shoreline - a 3 hour paddle with no landing points. In marginal conditions we use the more sheltered northern shoreline. We stop for lunch either in Olphert Cove or opposite Elizabeth Island, and head back into Deep Cove to return to Manapouri / Te Anau, hot showers, maybe a celebratory drink or meal out together, and comfortable beds!

Photos courtesy Real Journeys

Contact us
Itrek Customer Service
Tel: +64 21 268 8879
NZ local time is 07:04 AM
Key information

Location: Western South Island in Fiordland

Open: 11th Oct - 30th April

Dates:  2 day trips almost daily Dec.- April.  Selected dates for 3,4,5 day trips

Duration:  5 days

Group Size: Small groups, max. of 8 per guide

Grade: 2 day no experience/ 3 &4 experience prefered/ 5 day experience required

Accommodation: Campsites

Luggage: Carried in dry sacks in kayak.

Meals: Supply own. Hot drinks, snacks and wine with dinner included

Options: 2,3,and 4 day trips also available.  Contact George for more info.