Picton to Wellington on Interislander
After the awesome time in Abel Tasman and spending another night at the Hat Trick lodge in Maoreka with Gido, it was time to cross the Cook Strait to Wellington on the north island. First though, I had to drop Gido off at Nelson for his bus ride back to Christchurch and haul my butt over to the coastal town of Picton where I dropped off my rental car and boarded the ferry.
Interislander vs Blueridge Ferry
When I booked the ferry a few weeks ago (tickets do go up in price closer to the sailing date), I had a choice between the two companies - Interislander and Blueridge. Both offer multiple crossings each day, while Blueridge being about $5 cheaper so I almost went with it but then decided to read up on some reviews. The general consensus seemed to be that Blueridge is cheaper, but on some occasions it was hours late and sometimes people reported a strong cattle smell on the ship. Apparently, it was started by the farmers when Interislander refused to transport their cattle between the islands. That, coupled with the discount coupon I found online that made the prices about the same, made me change my mind and go with Interislaner instead.
The following are the two discount codes/coupons I found for Interislander. I am not sure when either is expiring, so give it a shot. Capitalization does matter. And no, I do not get any kickbacks from either of the codes. I found both of them doing some google searching.
- Arrival3 should give you 10% off any of your fares
- VEM1 should give you 20% off EasyChange fare that allows you to make changes to your reservation, essentially you will get the fully changeable fare for just a bit more than the cheapest 'no changes' fare.
Boarding Interislander in Picton
Interislander ferry terminal was setup similar to an airport. Everyone had to checkin at least 45 minutes prior to departure time and we were allowed to bring only small bags on board so I had to check in my backpack. The boarding itself went pretty smooth and soon I settled in the recliner lounge on deck 7. These lounges offer nice recliner seats behind closed doors so you get a bit of relief from the noises on the deck. The lounges on deck 8 are officially quiet lounges. There is also a premium lounge for those wanting comfy couches and (reportedly) crappy complimentary food for extra $45. WiFi was offered for $7 with 40 MB limit.
Sailing Across Cook Strait
While searching the reviews, I learned that the sailing across the strait can get pretty rough at times, depending on the weather. Inside the terminal, they actually had the wave conditions posted and they were to be pretty mild today. The first part of the sail supposedly provides some good views of Malborough plains area of the south island, but I decided to just relax in the recliner lounge rather than go up to the top deck to enjoy the view. From what I could see through the large windows, the views were not that spectacular compared to what I have seen so far. Three and a half hours later, we were docking in Wellington after a very uneventful crossing.
Wellington Ferry Terminal
When we got to Wellington, I realized the mistake I made - I assumed that all ferries dock at the pier right next to downtown. Blueridge does, while not right next to downtown, just a few minutes walk to the north. Interislander, on the other hand, docks way up north in the middle of the industrial port area so I had to use their shuttle service to get to the main train station for $2 and then walk down the waterfront to my hostel.