From Manapouri you can arrange transport to Doubtful Sound, the deepest and second longest of New Zealand's fiords.
Sometimes called the 'Sound of Silence' Doubtful Sound is the deepest (421 metres) and second longest (40 kilometres) of the South Island's fiords. It is a powerful place - serene, mysterious and untouched by the modern world.
The fiord was originally named Doubtful Harbour by Captain James Cook, who didn't sail into the inlet because it looked a bit tight for safe manoeuvring. It was later named Doubtful Sound by whalers and sealers.
Like other fiords in the area, Doubtful Sound contains two distinct layers of water that don't mix. The top few meters is fresh water, fed by runoff from the surrounding mountains. Below this is a layer of salt water from the sea. The difference in refractive index between these two layers makes it difficult for light to penetrate. As a result, many deep-sea species - such as black coral - grow in the comparatively shallow depths.
Doubtful Sound has some splendid waterfalls, particularly during the wetter seasons. In the Hall Arm, the Browne Falls cascades 619 metres; Helena Falls at Deep Cove tumbles 220 metres. Wildlife is another reason to visit this fiord - keep an eye out for bottlenose dolphins, fur seals and penguins.
Tours to Doubtful Sound depart from Manapouri and involve a very scenic bus trip across Wilmot Pass. When you reach the fiord, you can explore in a sea kayak or cruise with one of the cruise operators.