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.
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
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.
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
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!
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 )
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!
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.
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.
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!
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 ).