Taking the ferry to travel between the North and South islands of New Zealand will ensure you the most spectacular island hopping experience. While taking a flight between the two islands offers a stunning ariel view from 1500ft in the air and half the travel time compared to the water route, traveling by ferry is an irreplaceable experience that simulates what the original founders of New Zealand once endured.
With two different ferry lines to choose between—the Interislander and Bluebridge—there is the ability to simply walk on as a passenger or bring a vehicle.
Travelling Northwards, the ferry route begins in Picton. This small city of 3,000 people borders the Marlborough Sounds and is home to one of the most magical water inlets.
The vast size of the sunken river valleys that form the Marlborough Sounds—in addition to the clashing of the green hills and blue waters—are enough to justify a trip to these Sounds alone.
While the ferries often offer on-board entertainment—such as a Cinema—the best entertainment on the boat can be found at the top deck. In both rain or shine access to the open deck allows for the full sea-cruise experience of the fresh wind and salt water mist covering the top of the boat.
After an hour of traveling around the Marlborough Sounds, the ferry takes on the open sea in the Cook Strait.
The Cook Strait is considered one of the most dangerous and unpredictable bodies of water in the world and is notorious for huge waves and strong winds. But these risks are well worth it as soon as the Wellington Harbour comes into sight.
On a clear day the Wellington Harbour glistens in the sunlight. And if it is particularly clear the South Island can be seen in the distance (only 22km separate the two islands).
Arriving in Wellington Harbour allows for a quick overview of New Zealand’s capital—also known as “the coolest little city in the world” and home to 204,000 people.
With beaches all along the coast, houses throughout the rolling hill landscape and the city centre lined up along the water, the ferry makes a dramatic entrance into the city that can only be done via water.
However, as with most experiences in New Zealand, the weather can be unpredictable. But even if the sun is absent during this ferry ride, the mystic darkness of the sounds is still just as spectacular as when the sunshine glistens on top of the water.