Ferry to the South Island New Zealand

The ferry to the South Island is an incredible experience that combines the thrill of travel with astonishing views of the surrounding waterways. It is the best thing about getting to the South Island of New Zealand. Whether you’re a local looking for a memorable getaway or a traveller seeking an extraordinary journey, the ferry provides a unique and picturesque way to reach the South Island. Keep reading for information about the ferry to South Island.

Ferry to the South Island New Zealand

Ferry from North to South Island New Zealand

Two ferry companies travel from North to South Island New Zealand: the Interislander and the Bluebridge. Each ferry company offers its own set of amenities, comforts, and boarding processes, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable journey for passengers. Each offers several crossings a day.

Departing from Wellington, the vibrant capital city of the North Island, the Interislander & Bluebridge ferry embarks on a breathtaking voyage across the stunning Cook Strait, which separates the two islands. 

Throughout the approximately three-and-a-half-hour journey, passengers will see awe-inspiring vistas that showcase the natural beauty of the ocean, hills and bush. It’s no wonder that this iconic trip has been “one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world.” 

And we could not agree more! We love the phenomenal journey across the Cook Strait. We’ve travelled to 50 countries, and this cruise is definitely one of the most stunning cruises in the world. 

Turquoise water and bush views in Picton, South Island

Getting to the Terminal and On Board

The ferry terminals for both ferries are located alongside each other and are easily accessible by various modes of transportation. Upon arrival, passengers are required to check in at the designated counters, and it’s advisable to arrive well in advance, especially during peak travel periods. Once checked in, passengers proceed to the designated boarding areas. 

Interislander Ferry

The Interislander, operated by KiwiRail, is the most renowned and widely used ferry company for travelling between the North and South Islands of New Zealand. 

Bluebridge Ferry

Bluebridge is another prominent ferry company that operates between the North and South Islands. The Bluebridge ferry, known for its smaller ferries, provides an alternative choice for travellers seeking to cross between the islands. 

Onboard Amenities and Luxurious Upgrades

Both ferries offer a range of onboard amenities to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable journey. You’ll find a variety of dining options, including cafes and restaurants, where you can savour delicious meals while taking in the scenic views. Additionally, there are lounges, wi-fi, play areas for children, and outdoor decks where you can feel the refreshing sea breeze and capture memorable photographs.

For those seeking an enhanced experience, the Interislander and the Bluebridge offer additional amenities, including access to private lounges, complimentary refreshments, private cabins with beds and showers and priority boarding. These upgrades provide an opportunity to indulge in a touch of luxury and relaxation during your ferry voyage.

Water views from the South Island ferry

Choosing the Right North to South Island Ferry for Your Journey

When deciding which ferry to the South Island to choose for your South Island adventure, there are a few factors to consider. 

These include your departure location and preferred time, preferred amenities, and the overall experience you seek. 

Interislander has bigger ferries, so you may find more availabilities.

Both the Interislander and Bluebridge ferries offer reliable services at a similar price point, so it ultimately comes down to personal preferences and availability.

Booking Your Ferry from North Island to South Island NZ    

To secure your ferry journey, it’s recommended to book your tickets in advance, especially during peak travel seasons. You will most likely get a better price too.

Both the Interislander and Bluebridge ferry companies offer online booking facilities, making it convenient to plan your trip ahead of time. 

Other Transportation Options

While ferries provide a scenic and popular means of reaching the South Island, there are alternative transportation options worth considering. These include flying directly to the South Island from other countries or domestically from the North Island. 

Read Next – How to Get to South Island New Zealand.

Travelling with a Car

If you prefer the flexibility and convenience of having your vehicle, travelling from North to South Island New Zealand by car is an excellent option. Both ferry companies can transport your car.

However, remember to check the specific requirements and guidelines for bringing your car on board the ferry, including any necessary reservations or documentation.

Additionally, car rental companies in New Zealand offer convenient options for exploring the South Island. It’s worth noting that some car rental companies provide island-specific vehicles, allowing you to rent a car on one island and return it on the other. Usually, you will drop off your rental vehicle at the North Island terminal before boarding the ferry and then pick up a replacement rental on arrival at the South Island terminal. Because you don’t need to transport a vehicle on the ferry to the South Island, this will save you money.

Make sure to check with the car rental company about their specific policies and availability for inter-island travel. 

Connecting with Bus or Train Services

Once you arrive at your ferry destination on the South Island, such as Picton, bus and train services are available to help you further explore the island. 

You can choose from various bus operators that offer scheduled services, allowing you to customize your itinerary and explore the South Island at your own pace. 

The InterCity bus service provides a seamless travel experience by providing combo tickets for the ferry and bus. You will normally have a short wait at Picton before travelling on to your South Island destination.

Similarly, the train service, the Coastal Pacific, meets the Interislander at Picton and travels onto Christchurch. The journey offers stunning landscape views of the South Island, providing a unique and picturesque way to travel between destinations.

Embark on an Unforgettable Journey with the Ferry to the South Island   

Travelling on the ferry from North to South Island NZ is an adventure filled with beauty and wonder. Whether you choose the iconic Interislander or the exceptional Bluebridge, the experience of reaching this picturesque destination will stay with you forever. That’s until you do it all again on your return trip on the ferry from South Island to North Island.   

Ocean and bush views in PIcton, South Island.

Our Hot Tips for Travel on the Ferry to the South Island   

  • Travel on weekdays for less crowds.
  • Travel during the day so you don’t miss out on the panoramic views.
  • Sometimes the crossings can get rough. If you get seasick, make sure to bring seasickness medication with you.

Read Next – Discovering the Best South Island Campgrounds.

FAQ about the Ferry to the South Island    

Is there a ferry from Wellington to South Island?

Yes, there is a ferry from Wellington to South Island. It arrives at Picton.

Is there a car ferry from Wellington to South Island?

Yes, there is a car ferry from Wellington to South Island. Both the Intersialdn and the Bluebridge ferry transport cars.

Is there a ferry between North and South Island New Zealand?

Yes, there are two ferry companies that offer services between the North and South Island New Zealand.

How do you get to South Island in New Zealand?

There are two ways to get to the South Island of New Zealand. You can fly, or you can arrive by boat. 

Is there a ferry between North and South Island New Zealand?

Yes, there is a North Island to South Island ferry. It departs from Wellington on the North Island and arrives in Picton on the South Island.

How many hours is the ferry from Wellington to Picton?

The ferry trip from Wellington to Picton takes 3.5 hrs.

What is the difference between Bluebridge and Interislander?

How do I get the best ferry price?

To get the best ferry price, you need to book in advance.

Is the Wellington to Picton ferry worth it?

Yes, absolutely! The ferry to the south island has been named one of the most scenic cruises in the world!

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