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Dusky Sound Cruise
Captain Cook spent five weeks in Dusky Sound, 40km south of Doubtful Sound, on his second voyage in 1773, while his crew recovered from an arduous crossing of the Southern Ocean. Time was mostly spent at Pickersgill Harbour where, at Astronomer’s Point, it is still possible to see where Cook’s astronomer had trees felled so he could get an accurate fix on the stars. Not far from here is the site where 1790s castaways built the first European-style house and boat in New Zealand. Marooned by the fiord’s waters, nearby Pigeon Island shelters the ruins of a house built by Richard Henry, who battled from 1894 to 1908 to save endangered native birds from introduced stoats and rats.

Dusky Sound, the largest fiord in New Zealand, is situated on the west coast of the South Island. It was first sighted on 13 March 1770 by Captain Cook who named it Dusky Bay because of its sombre aspect. During his second voyage to New Zealand Cook entered the Sound on 26 March 1773 and remained there until 11 May, thoroughly exploring and charting the Sound. The wealth of bird life impressed him and his place names tell their own story—Shag River; Seal Rock; Curlew, Shag, Petrel, Seal, Pigeon, and Parrot Isles; Goose, Duck, and Woodhen Coves. Clearings were made in the bush and an observatory was established. There was also a blacksmith's shop, a sailmaker's camp, and a brewery. Cook's headquarters were at Pickersgill Harbour on the south-east shore of the Sound.
The next visitor to Dusky was Vancouver, in the Discovery, who arrived on 2 November 1791. He stayed about three weeks, during which time he surveyed the north arm of Breaksea Sound, now called Vancouver Arm. In 1792 Captain Raven, master of the Britannia, called and left a sealing gang at Luncheon Cove on Anchor Island. They were the first temporary residents of New Zealand. While stationed there they built a small ship which was left on the stocks. On 25 February 1793 another Discovery, commanded by Malaspina, the famous Spanish navigator, called at the northern entrance but did not enter. Two years later, William Bampton visited Dusky Sound with two ships, the Endeavour and Fancy. When the former proved unseaworthy, Bampton's party completed Raven's unfinished ship which they named Providence. This was the first ship built in New Zealand. As Raven's venture at Dusky Sound had proved unprofitable, little sealing was done in the area until 1801 when George Bass called there in the Venus. In 1803 a Bass Strait sealer, Endeavour, called at Dusky Sound to engage in sealing, and subsequently the area was frequently visited by sealers and whalers.
Dusky Sound is a fjord on the south west corner of New Zealand, in Fiordland National Park. One of the most complex of the many fjords on this coast, it is also one of the largest, 40 kilometres in length and eight kilometres wide at its widest point. To the north of its mouth is the large Resolution Island, whose Five Fingers Peninsula shelters the mouth of the sound from the northwest. Along the east coast of the island, Acheron passage connects Dusky Sound with Breaksea Sound, to the north.
Several large islands lie in the sound, notably Anchor Island, Long Island, and Cooper Island. Sightseeing highlights include the hundreds of waterfalls cascading into the sound during the rainy season, seals and dolphins. Bird and wildlife sanctuaries are also attractions with sightings of Curlew, Shag, Petrel, Pigeon and Parrot Isles; Shag River; Seal Rock; Goose, Duck and Woodhen Coves. Getting to Doubtful Sound is an adventure in itself. With no direct road access, the only way you can to get to Doubtful Sound is by a cruise across Lake Manapouri and a coach trip over Wilmot Pass. This isolation makes the fiord a very special place, a place only those in the know get to see.


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