Interislander, Wellington Overview

Interislander is a ferry service between the North Island and South island of Cook Strait, New Zealand. The ferry service in Cook Strait was started in August 1962 by New Zealand Railways Department (NZR).



It takes about 3 hours to complete one tour. The ferry was known as 'one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world'. You can also spot dolphins during the Cook Strait crossing if you're lucky enough. The Interislander carries around one million passengers and 230,000 vehicles per year on 5,500 sailings. These ferries became a part of 'The Great Journeys of New Zealand' in 2007.

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Ferry Prices

The following are the fares for Wellington to Picton 
One Way
Adult (no vehicle): NZD 55 – NZD 75 
Child (2 – 17 years): NZD 28 – NZD 38 
Infant (under 2 years): Free
Seniors (60+ years): NZD 55 – NZD 65
Tertiary: NZD 55 – NZD 65
Sedan (with driver): NZD 173 – NZD 248
Campervan up to 5.5m (with driver): NZD 173 – NZD 248
Campervan 6m (with driver): NZD 243 – NZD 328
Motorhome 7m (with driver): NZD 313 – NZD 408

The Three Ferries in Interislander

Interislander ferry

1. Kaitaki Interislander Ferry
Kaitaki in Maori means ‘challenger’. It has the capacity to carry nearly 1600 passengers. It is the largest ship in Interislander and also the largest ferry in New Zealand. The Kaitaki Interislander Ferry is different from the other ferries as it offers a special and beautiful experience. This ferry never gets boring for children as it has a playground on board. During peak seasons, the clowns and magicians will also be on board along with you.
2. Aratere Interislander Ferry
Aratere in Maori means ‘quick path’. This roll-on roll-off (RORO) rail provides top and luxury facilities which include Wi-Fi, bar, restaurant, cinema, shopping and the Aratere Plus Lounge for an unforgettable experience. This ferry has enough space to get your vehicles on board as well.
3. Kaiarahi Interislander Ferry
Kaiarahi in Maori means ‘leader, guard or guardian’. This is the latest ship with all the new and improvised facilities. This roll-on roll-off ferry transports passengers and vehicles from Wellington to Picton. The ship is named after a very popular dolphin, Pelorus Jack. These dolphins have been so loyal that they have guided the ship for over 20 years.

Interesting facts about Interislander

1) Between the three ferries, nearly 300,000 trips, and over 40 million passengers have been carried. 
2) The Interislander makes 4,500 trips and carries 785,000 passengers, 52,000 rail wagons, 21,000 trucks, and 210,000 cars every year. 
3) In 2008, Interislander was featured as the ‘I’ on the 'A to Z of New Zealand' stamp series. 
4) In 2017, a Wellington edition of Monopoly was created and Interislander was one of the utility companies.

Pets on Ferry

Pets are warmly welcomed to get on board with the passengers. But there are certain rules laid to ensure the safety of you and your pet. You can keep the pet in your car or you can book a kennel for your pet as well. You can leave your pet in your car as long as he/she is well fed, calm and has toys to play around with. You will have to inform the staff that you have a pet on board with you so that they give you a sign to hang on the vehicle’s rearview mirror. The kennels on the ferry cost NZD 15 with dimension 800x800x600 (WxHxD). It is advised to leave a blanket and a few toys with the pet so that they feel safe and remain calm.


Ferry Beginnings
In the year 1962, The Government made the Railways in charge of the service that connects Wellington and Picton. A new ship was being constructed for the same, and it was named as Aramoana. The vessel started its service on August 13, 1962. The ferry attracted a lot of people as the freight could stay in the same place as they did, which saved a lot of their money and time.
Manageable Agency
In the first year, Aramoana transported 207,000 passengers, 46,000 cars and 181,000 from Wellington to Picton and vice versa. The demand for ferry increased rapidly, and one boat wasn’t enough to meet the needs of the people.
Expanding the Ferry Capacity
In 1966, Aranui, a slightly larger ship, was introduced. And then Arahunga in 1972 and Aratika in 1974. By this time, Aramoana had served for over ten years and had to be replaced. A quick ship, Arahua that saved 20 more minutes of the people was introduced. The only way to meet increasing demands was to increase the number of trips. Previously, it was just travelling from Wellington to Picton and back to Wellington again.
Recent Improvents
In 2003, it was doing three crossings a day. In between this, was introduced a fast ferry named The Lynx or Vomit Comet. An unusual name was given to a boat because of its speed and how bumpy the ride was. But it was noticed that these machines needed a lot of fuel to work and it was, in fact, bad for the environment as well. Hence, in 1994, speed restrictions were imposed in Wellington Harbour to reduce wash and protect ships berthed at Aotea Quay.
Marine Disasters
The Cook Strait is also known for the worst maritime disasters in the history of New Zealand - the 1909 Penguin disaster and the 1968 sinking of the Wellington– Lyttelton ferry, Wahine. On February 12, 1909, Penguin the ship had reached Cook Strait from Picton in beautiful weather. Due to deteriorating weather conditions, Captain Francis Naylor decided to return. Thus, struck by a storm, the ship managed to save only 30 out of 102 passengers. Equally devastating was the sinking of Wahine in 1968. After all the warnings about the bad weather, Captain H.G.Robertson thought he could make it safely to Wellington. The ship experienced one of the worst storms as it was battling winds of over 100 knots. Then Aramoana was sent for help that day and saved many lives. After this, a citizen of New Zealand, Peter Button was moved by this tragic incident that took the lives of the people. He learned to fly a helicopter and launched Life Flight which has now saved nearly 30,000 lives to date.

How To Reach Interislander

The easiest way to get to the Interislander Wellington terminal would be to take the Interislander Shuttle bus from Wellington train station for NZD 2 to the ferry terminal. The shuttle leaves the railway station about 35 minutes before the ferry and takes 5 minutes to reach the terminal.

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