Day 60: Getting from North to South

New Zealand’s North and South Islands are separated by a stretch of water called the Cook Strait. The strait can get rough at times and I’ve heard crossing can sometimes be an adventure. If you want to skip the crossing, flights between Wellington on the North Island and Christchurch in the South Island can be gotten pretty cheaply – about $100 NZD round trip right now but probably higher in the summertime. If you want to take your car with you though then taking the ferry is the way to go.


The ferry leaves from Wellington on the North Island and arrives in the town of Picton on the South Island and the trip takes about 3 hours. You have two companies to choose from for bookings – the Interislander and the Bluebridge.  I don’t think there is that much difference in which one you take but book ahead if you are traveling during the summer months as the ferries fill up.

I’ve only been to the South Island one time so far – we drove down from Auckland with our kayak on top of the car and towing a small trailer. We took Bluebridge and our trip cost about $400 NZD for 4 adults and the car and trailer and that was one way! It would have been cheaper to fly except we of course needed the car on the other side. Getting to the ferry was easy, signs were well marked and the people who worked there were really helpful.

Ours was a smooth and uneventful crossing and most of them are, but there have been a few stories about not-so-smooth sailings. In the past, ferries sailed except in the worst of weather but today sailings are cancelled if the weather is deemed too risky. We’ve had a strange bit of winter weather hit over the last few days and sailings were cancelled for three days in a row with snow and high swells in Wellington. It’s supposed to be spring now so not sure what’s up with that.

Check out the video below for one of the rough crossings — note this is pretty old though, it happened back in 2006:


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