Ferry travel between the North Island and the South Island
New Zealand's most famous and beautiful ferry route is between Wellington in the North Island and Picton in the South Island.
The journey between the two islands is commonly referred to as 'crossing the Cook Strait'.
The sailing time is around 3.5 hours (weather dependent).
Bluebridge(opens in new window) and the Interislander(opens in new window) ferries travel regularly between the two islands and are able to transfer vehicles, motorcycles and pets. Comfortable seating, lounges with Wi-Fi and dining options are available onboard, so are private cabins.
Sailings start in the morning and run through into the evening with increased sailings in summer.
Take advantage of Bluebridge's overnight sailing(opens in new window) with their private sleeper cabins when sailing from Wellington to Picton, this is an economical and comfortable way to travel and is suitable for families. There are also accessible sleeper cabins onboard.
Wellington ferry terminals
Bluebridge Wellington terminal(opens in new window) is in Wellington central city, opposite the Wellington Railway Station, near Waterloo Quay and it is walkable from the city.
The Interislander Wellington passenger terminal (opens in new window)is located in the Wellington city on Aotea Quay, Pipitea and the Interislander Wellington vehicle terminal (opens in new window)is a short drive or bus trip from Wellington's central city and not far from the passenger terminal. Walking from Wellington city isn't advised as it requires crossing a busy road on the motorway and there is no pedestrian crossing, so take the Interislander complimentary shuttle bus from platform 9 at Wellington Railway Station.
Picton ferry terminals
Bluebridge Picton terminal(opens in new window) is located less than one kilometre from the waterfront in Picton. A complimentary shuttle is available and picks up and drops off from Picton i-SITE, the Interislander bus shelter and Oxleys Tavern.
Interislander Picton terminal(opens in new window) for passengers is on the waterfront at 1 Auckland Street, Picton. In the same area and a very short walk, you'll find the vehicle terminal.
Sailing the Cook Strait
Said to be one of the most beautiful sailing journeys in the world, crossing the Cook Strait is more than just a ferry ride.
Nature lovers will be pleased to know there are high chances to see the many species of native dolphins, whales, albatross, orca (killer whales), and New Zealand fur seals. Large pods up to 300 humpback whales migrate across the Cook Strait between June and September so keep your eyes peeled.
Departing the Wellington(opens in new window) habour leave the highrises behind and sail past Somes Island and the rugged coastline of the Wellington Heads and into the depths of the Cook Strait. On a clear day, you'll have views of the South Island in the distance.
As the journey comes to an end you'll sail slowly through the Tory Channel and Queen Charlotte Sounds. This is a photographer's dream, surrounded by lush native forest, clear waters, bush walks and holiday homes, and soon arriving into pretty Picton(opens in new window).
Auckland ferry journeys
If you find yourself in Auckland a short ferry ride to the nearby islands should definitely be on the agenda, jump onboard Fullers ferries(opens in new window) and head over to these islands in the Hauraki Gulf;
- Waiheke Island, 40 minutes
- Rangitoto Island, 25 minutes
- Tiritiri Matangi Island, 75 minutes
- Rotoroa Island, 75 minutes
- Devonport, 12 minutes
- The Coromandel, 2 hours
- Motutapu Island, 35 minutes
Water taxis in Auckland
Water taxis are a handy service for getting to the start of a hiking track or reaching a destination that isn’t accessible by ferry or just as a fun alternative way to get around.
Most water taxi operators can also put together a customised scenic tour of local sights. Hauraki Express(opens in new window) and Auckland Water Taxis(opens in new window) offer private tours and also transfers between Auckland and Great Barrier Island, Kawau Island and Rakino Island.