New Zealand Ferries

Finding Deals on New Zealand ferries and Water Travel

Because the country consists of islands, New Zealand ferry travel is an important transport method for both locals and visitors.

The most well-known and often used of these is the Interislander ferry, which runs across Cook Strait between Picton at the top of the South Island and Wellington at the bottom of the North Island. There are also smaller ferry operations running between the South Island and tiny Stewart Island, the southernmost part of the country.

Read on to learn more about ferries in New Zealand.

The Interislander

The Interislander is established as the best known of the New Zealand ferries between Picton and Wellington.

If you’re planning to drive a car or motor home from the top of New Zealand to the bottom, you’ll most likely end up using the Interislander to get your vehicle across Cook Strait.

The Interislander service is made up of three ferries: the Arahura, the Aratere and the Kaitaki. The carrying capacity of the ships ranges from 550 up to 1600.

The Kaitaki is the largest of the three, and in fact the largest ferry in the country. It’s packed with food and shopping outlets and it’s about the closest thing you’ll find in NZ to a floating shopping centre. It’s designed to allow for plenty of observation space, allowing you to take in the scenic surroundings around Picton and Wellington Harbour.

The Kaitaki features a luxury lounge, the Kaitaki Plus, which has Internet access and satellite television. Access to the Kaitaki Plus lounge costs $40 above the normal ticket price.

The Interislander has a range of fare types - you can decide which suits you best based on your travel needs. For instance, if you’re on a budget you can make the most of saving money by booking online - but tickets booked online are not refundable, so if you’re not sticking to a set itinerary that’s not such a great option.

Fares for a round trip generally cost between $50 and $75 for one person without a vehicle. Additional charges for vehicles depend on the size and weight of the car or campervan.

Bluebridge

Bluebridge is another established ferry service running from Picton to Wellington. They are a smaller operation than the Interislander, but they try to make excellent service their point of difference. However, they can also be cheaper for transporting vehicles.

Like the Interislander they provide several different fare options to appeal to travellers with different needs.

Stewart Island Ferries

Few visitors to New Zealand ever make it as far south as Stewart Island - in fact, few Kiwis have ever even visited this little island. But if you’re making it your mission to go from tip to tip, you’ll have to include Stewart Island in your trip.

Stewart Island Experience is a tour company which runs a ferry service across Foveaux Strait between Stewart Island and Bluff (the oyster capital of NZ). This ferry has a “guided tour” feel to it, with a commentary through the speakers about sights and local wildlife.

Ferries across Foveaux Strait generally cost between $60 and $70 return (NZD) for a single adult.

Kirra Tours also run a day trip to Stewart Island if you just want to stop by for a look around.