Monday, December 10, 2007

What About Those Ferries?

There's ferries everywhere in New Zealand, from faster than a speeding bullet to pokey little things that nearby ducks pass. The one you need to worry about is the inter-island ferry. About eight hours south of Auckland by car, the Interislander links the north and south islands. Cars, trucks, and movans ride below, while passengers ride outside on the deck or in one of the lounges. Ferries cross the sometimes very rough Cook Strait, then nose their way through Queen Charlotte Sound to Picton, a small town on the north end of the South Island. Three ferries link the North and South Islands. These are ocean going vessels that zip through the Cook Strait from Wellington to Picton in about three hours.

If you're planning to island hop with a car or RV, book your ferry passage in advance at If you pull up unannounced, you'll end up cooling your heels in the middle of a Wellington freight shipping yard.

Cheaper rates are available if you leave at 1:30am. In my book RV in NZ: How to Spend Your Winters South in New Zealand,, I talk about sleeping in TranzRail's parking lot to catch a 6:30am passage. This really isn't as bad as it sounds. There's parking space RVers use behind the main parking lot-- not next to the railroad switching yards where we spent our first noisy night. When RVing, we always liked the 6:30am passage because the ferry passes through Marlboro Sounds during early morning. Ferries depart several times a day. Departures are occasionally cancelled during bad weather. My first passage, a December passage, (I can only guess how bad it gets in their winter) I couldn't even get out on the upper deck without getting soaked to see the scenery that wasn't there, anyway.

If you do have a rough passage, thank your lucky stars you're in New Zealand and not a third world country. Kiwis take their safety standards very seriously.

Have a question?

Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments: