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Crossing the Cook Strait on the Interislander ferry

Best way to cross the Cook Strait, right after jumping off a plane and skydiving right into the fields near Picton harbour, is in fact taking the Interislander ferry.

Meagaan and I had the pleasure to enjoy the 3-hour trip on board the Kaitaki, one of the three Interislander ferries that take passengers between Wellington and Picton every day. In peak season there can be up to 11 crossings a day, so it was easy for us to find a suitable time.

Interislander ferry in Wellington

Interislander ferry Kaitaki in Wellington

Not wanting to waste any of our precious time in New Zealand, we had an early start and got ourselves booked onto the Kaitaki at 8.15 in the morning.

It was a beautiful day – the air was really crisp on that spring morning in October, but the sun was out and there was not a single cloud in the sky. And when we handed our tickets over to the inspector just before driving our Jucy rental onto the ferry, we had a little surprise waiting for us: two tickets for the Karori Plus lounge!

Enjoying the lounge aboard the Kaitaki

The lounge on the Interislander ferry

The lounge on the Interislander ferry

Nice, comfy seats, plenty of space, free wifi and a lovely buffet with hot breakfast. What a great start to our day! They also had internet terminals for lounge guests, and free wi-fi for anyone in the lounge.

Internet terminals in the lounge on the Interislander ferry

Internet terminals in the lounge on the Interislander ferry

We had just had our scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast, and a nice conversation with fellow passengers from outside Christchurch, when a uniformed crew member came over:

Are you Christina and Meagaan?

Uh-oh. Had there been a mistake with the lounge passes? Was he going to tell us our car was about to fall off the ferry? Nothing of that sort – he introduced himself as Sami and announced he wanted to give us a tour of the bridge later. The bridge, yes! The second best ship to be on the bridge; it really only could have been topped by a tour of the Enterprise-D itself.

Promoted to captain: on the bridge of the Interislander ferry

On the bridge of the Interislander ferry with the acting captain :)

On the bridge of the Interislander ferry with the acting captain and her first mate, Matt :D

And so, about an hour later, Meagaan and I found ourselves on the bridge, and the crew didn’t waste any time either. We promptly took our positions and made sure we were not bumping into any other ships… I still don’t know what that loud cracking noise was but never mind!

Steering the Interislander ferry across the Cook Strait...

Steering the Interislander ferry across the Cook Strait…

We had a blast with the fabulous crew who showed us around and explained how they use all the instruments on the bridge. The bridge was huge and had lots of redundant systems, meaning if one vital instrument failed, there was a back-up that could be used immediately. I’m not a nervous sailor, but it was still great to hear that everything was shipshape (excuse the pun :) )

View onto the Marlborough Sounds from the Interislander ferry

View of Queen Charlotte Sound from the Interislander ferry

Despite such fabulous company and gadgetry distractions, one of us got a little green around the gills and so we made our way to the observation deck. The sun was out, no clouds in the sky, and there was plenty of fresh, really fresh air, and we were about to enter the Marlborough Sounds. Perfect timing!

Meagaan and I enjoying the sunshine and views on the deck of the Interislander ferry

Meagaan and I enjoying the sunshine and views on the deck of the Interislander ferry

Those waters were simply beautiful. It’s hard to describe in words. Gorgeous blue waters against the lush green valleys and hills of the Marlborough Sounds, as far as the eye can see.

Views from the Interislander ferry, near Picton

Views from the Interislander ferry, near Picton

We spent the rest of our journey outside, taking countless pictures of the northernmost bits of the South Island, every one more beautiful, more memorable than the previous. It certainly fueled our addiction to landscape photography, and it didn’t get any better as we made our way through all the gorgeous landscapes of the South Island.

Arriving at Picton harbour, view from the Interislander ferry

Arriving at Picton harbour, view from the Interislander ferry

And before we knew, we arrived at Picton harbour, ready to tackle the second part of our epic road trip. We bade farewell to our crew and the Kaitiaki, and off we were to explore little Picton!

Driving off the Interislander ferry in Picton

Driving off the Interislander ferry in Picton

 

Crossing the Cook Strait on the Interislander ferry

Interislander operates three ferries and offers up to 11 crossings a day. The crossing takes three hours and is 92km long.

To book your ticket, click here. You can cross with or without a vehicle, from regular cars to campervans, motorhomes and towed vehicles such as a trailer or caravan. The booking process is streamlined and easy, and you can pay online by credit card or Visa debit card.

 

Disclosure: The trip for two with the Interislander ferry was part of my #Blog4NZ competition win. As always, opinions are entirely my own. A huge thank you to Interislander for being part of Blog4NZ and for hosting Meagaan and me aboard the Kaitaki – we had a fabulous trip! Special thanks to Greg for the fantastic communication and for surprising us with two lounge passes, as well as Sami for showing us around (and even getting Meagaan some ice chips!). And last but not least, a big thank you to Matt for having us on his bridge and letting us steer the ferry (… and thanks for keeping the autopilot on, too ;) ).

 

 

Christina

About the author: Christina Hegele runs Sandal Road, a blog on her favourite destinations. It just so happened that 95% turned out to be about New Zealand. Follow Christina and her blog on Twitter, like her blog on Facebook, and subscribe to her Youtube channel. Alternatively, subscribe to her email newsletter at the top right of this blog.

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2 thoughts on “Crossing the Cook Strait on the Interislander ferry”

  1. Sooooo, that’s how the ferry trip looks like under clear blue skies and bright sunshine? I could only get hints on a grey July day, but as you know, the ferry trip is still dramatic and awesome, especially when the boat pulls into Tory Channel on its way into Queen Charlotte Sound. Did you get to toot the ship’s horn? Because that would be way cool, too. “Aye aye, Captain!” :)

    1. Darn, I knew I forgot something. I was so bamboozled by all the cool radars and stuff, that I completely forgot to ask about that. Perhaps next time! :D

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