Doubtful Sound, New Zealand: Waterfall Climbing [360-Degree Panorama]

Imagine going to one of the wettest places on earth, only to be greeted with sunshine. This was our experience in Doubtful Sound on the very southwest tip of New Zealand’s South Island. Blue skies in the land of socked-in clouds and precipitation — lucky, we were.

During our first afternoon in Doubtful Sound, we took off on foot to explore the rainforest and waterfalls near Deep Cove, our overnight spot. From afar, Helena Waterfall looked a gentle flow water trickling softly over the hillside. As we approached, we found something a little different: a rather imposing waterfall spilling over a cliff, generating its share of light-refracting mist. It would have promptly swallowed us had we ventured too close. We did however manage to get close enough to admire it in full, with a respectful distance between us.

Open up the panorama below to full screen to experience for yourself. Just imagine a soundtrack of roaring water as you scroll up to see to the top of the waterfalls.

Note: If you’re wondering about Doubtful Sound’s infamous sand flies — yes, they are as terrible, terrorizing and as enduring as you’ve heard. Never has so small a creature wreaked such havoc to our bodies — trunk, limbs and all — for weeks. Cover up, be liberal with the repellent, then cover up once again!

Panorama: Hiking Under Helena Waterfalls in Doubtful Sound, New Zealand

panorama directions


The experiences above were from the G Adventures’ New Zealand Encompassed Tour. If you plan to book this or another tour with G Adventures, please consider starting the process by clicking on the ad below. The price stays the same to you and we earn a small commission. Thank you!

Disclosure: Our New Zealand Encompassed Tour was provided by G Adventures in connection with its Wanderers in Residence program. Our flights were kindly sponsored by Air New Zealand. As always, the opinions expressed here are entirely our own.

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  1. says

    nice panorama! i recently went to milford sound and it was day with gorgeous weather too. glad we had the same luck! i didn’t have the time to do any hikes though, just did a day trip from queenstown and back

  2. says

    Wow, this is amazing! I visited Doubtful Sound a few years ago, but it looks completely different in the sun and from this vantage point too. Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. says

    @Josie: We were told that this past summer in New Zealand was one of the nicest in about a decade so we were both lucky. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to go to Milford Sound,but really enjoyed having time to hike and do some kayaking at Doubtful Sound.

    @Jenn: Many Kiwis told us that Doubtful Sound is NEVER like this. The next morning after this shot was taken we woke up at 5 AM for a dawn kayak ride and the sky was crystal clear without a cloud. Just amazing!!

  4. says

    @Arianwen: You win some, you lose some :) But we were very lucky with our weather in New Zealand – several people told us it was the best summer weather in almost a decade.

  5. says

    That looks really amazing! Thanks for sharing. It gives me some ideas for when i’m going to visit New Zealand in November (for one year on a working holiday visa)! Is it one of the most beautiful countries you have ever seen?

  6. says

    @Bastiaan: Congratulations on your working holiday visa for New Zealand! Its natural diversity and beauty is just amazing – so much packed into a relatively small space. Enjoy!

    @Kristin: Doubtful Sound is a bit out of the way and take effort to get there, so many people skip it. But if you return to New Zealand I’d highly recommend getting out there.

  7. says

    @Virgil: Funny you bring up the name. You can thank Captain Cook for that one. He’s said to have not entered the area as he was uncertain that it was navigable or that it offered protection. Doubtful Harbor he’s said to have called it. Only later was it renamed Doubtful Sound.

  8. says

    You are right that most visitors to New Zealand don’t go to Doubtful Sound as it is hard to get to. It is such a shame as I think it is one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand altough the lack of tourists does make it more beautiful. I visited in Winter 2009 and we were lucky with a beautiful clear day too although it was freezing! I am glad you enjoyed your time there

    • says

      Thanks, Katie. Doubtful Sound definitely qualifies among the out-of-the-way places (on somewhat out-of-the-way New Zealand). We also lucked out with unusually clear weather.

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