Are you planning on taking the ferry from Wellington to South Island New Zealand by car, campervan, or on foot?
When traveling to the South Island, there are so many interesting places to visit, from Queenstown to Milford Sound and many more.
And taking a North Island to South Island ferry is not only convenient and affordable, but it’s also an experience in itself. You’ll have epic views along the way and great onboard amenities.
In this ultimate guide, we’ll go through everything you need to know from the departure area and times to the facilities on board and much more.
In a hurry? Click here to book the ferry to South Island
FERRY FROM WELLINGTON TO SOUTH ISLAND – OVERVIEW
If you already have a campervan/rental car on the North Island and continuing your travels down to the South Island, then taking the ferry is the most suitable way to get between the islands.
You’ll take the ferry from Wellington (bottom of the North Island) to Picton (top of the South Island) and can begin your south island New Zealand road trip from here.
The ferry from North Island to South Island is a 3-hour cruise across the Cook Strait, departing from Wellington Ferry Terminal and arriving at Picton Ferry Terminal.
WHERE TO TAKE THE FERRY FROM WELLINGTON TO SOUTH ISLAND?
Whether you’re taking the ferry with Interislander or Bluebridge, you’ll board at the Wellington Ferry Terminal.
The terminal is located right next to Wellington Central Train Station, about 10 minutes drive from the city center.
HOW FAR IS WELLINGTON FROM PICTON?
The distance between Wellington and Picton is only 64km, and it takes an average of 3.5 hours to get there by ferry.
HOW MUCH DO FERRY TICKETS COST FROM WELLINGTON TO PICTON?
Prices vary slightly depending on the season, but the average price when traveling with Interislander is NZD $75 as a foot passenger, and the average price with Bluebridge is NZD $70 as a foot passenger.
If you are taking your vehicle on board, the cost with Interislander is NZD $75 per adult and NZD $223 for vehicles up to 5.5 meters in length.
Bluebridge costs NZD $70 per adult and NZD $164 for vehicles up to 5.5 meters in length.
WHERE TO BUY THE TICKETS?
The best way to book your tickets is to purchase them online before the trip.
If you’re traveling by vehicle, you can book your Wellington to Picton ferry tickets on Klook.com.
If you’re traveling on foot, you can book your ferry ticket from Wellington to Picton on Viator.com.
CAN YOU TAKE THE FERRY AS A PASSENGER WITHOUT VEHICLE?
Absolutely! When booking the ferry from Wellington to Picton online, you’ll have the option to book as a foot passenger or book a ticket with a vehicle included.
You can purchase a ticket for a vehicle on both Interislander ferry and Bluebridge ferry.
Note that once the ferry leaves, you will not be allowed onto the car deck and therefore, you’ll be required to stay upstairs outside of your car.
This is for security reasons, which is understandable.
CAN YOU TAKE THE FERRY WITH A RENTAL CAR?
Both Bluebridge and Interislander allow passengers to take the ferry with a rental car.
However, some car rental agencies do not allow renters to take the ferry, such as Europcar, Hertz, Thrifty, and Ace rentals.
In case you still want to take the ferry to explore South Island, these car companies have depots in Wellington where you can park the car while you’re away.
In that case, you should buy a foot passenger ferry ticket to get to Picton.
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WHAT TO BRING ON A NORTH TO SOUTH ISLAND FERRY?
When taking the ferry from Wellington to South Island, you’ll need the following:
- Your passport (for foreign nationals)
- Driving license, Student Card, or ID card (for locals)
- Motion sickness pills, especially if you tend to get seasick
- Some snacks and drinks for the trip as the food options on the ferry from Wellington to South Island are pretty limited
NORTH ISLAND TO SOUTH ISLAND FERRY COMPANIES
If you’re planning to travel from Wellington to the South Island, you’ll need to take a ferry across the Cook Strait.
As already mentioned, there are two North Island to South Island ferry companies that operate here: Interislander and Bluebridge.
KiwiRail owns Interislander Ferry and has been in service for over 50 years. Its ferries are named Kaitaki, Kaiarahi, and Aratere.
Bluebridge, on the other hand, is a privately owned company operating since 2002.
Read on to find out everything you should know about both companies.
INTERISLANDER FERRY FROM WELLINGTON TO PICTON
The first company to consider when booking your journey to the South Island is Interislander Ferry.
In fact, it’s the most famous ferry to get to South Island from Wellington because it is reliable, comfortable, and has beautiful views of the ocean.
The Interislander ferries are comfortable and spacious, with a variety of accommodation options available. They offer reclining seats, couches, cabins, and larger spaces for groups or families.
In addition, their lounges provide comfortable seating and a wonderful way to take in the scenery. Did I mention that they have a café zone with tables and chairs?
Interislander Departure Times for the Ferry from Wellington to South Island
Interislander has 6 ferries leaving every day, and here below are the sailing times:
|Wellington to Picton||2.00 AM||6.15 AM||8.45 AM||1.00 PM||3.45 PM||8.30 PM|
Needless to say, these sell out quickly during the peak season, so make sure to book as soon as possible.
As mentioned previously, prices vary depending on the season and availability, just like flights.
The average price is NZD $75 per person but it can go up during the high season.
How Many Interislander Ferries Travel A Day?
You’ll find 6 ferries departing from Wellington daily, with the first sailing being at 2.00 AM and the last ferry departing at 8.30 PM.
BLUEBRIDGE FERRY FROM WELLINGTON TO PICTON
The other North Island to South Island ferry company is Bluebridge, which offers better prices and good boats. In case Interislander isn’t available, then Bluebridge is an excellent alternative.
Bluebridge Departure Times for the Ferry from Wellington to South Island
Unlike Interislander, Bluebridge has fewer ferries departing during the day, which are the following:
|Wellington to Picton||2.00 AM||8.15 AM||1.30 PM||8.30 PM|
While these may be fewer, it’s still more than enough and tickets rarely sell out, which is very convenient.
Bluebridge ferry prices cost on average NZD $70 per person but they can get a little more expensive during the peak season.
How Many Bluebridge Ferries Travel A Day?
Bluebridge has 4 ferries departing from Wellington every day, with the first one leaving at 2.00 AM and the last vessel leaving at 8.30 PM.
FACILITIES & AMENITIES ONBOARD
Both North Island to South Island ferry companies offer different amenities, from private cabins to free WiFi and more, so let’s discuss them all.
On top of your ferry ticket, you can also book a private if you want some private time away from other passengers. Plus, you can also get some sleep, which is definitely welcome.
On Bluebridge ferries, you can book a private cabin, and these vary depending on the vessel, from 1-Bed Cabins at NZD $35 to 2-Bed Cabins at NZD $45 and more.
Other than privacy, the cabins offer free WiFi access, a private bathroom with a shower, and a bed or bunk beds to accommodate everyone.
On Interislander ferries, on the other hand, you can book a private cabin on their Kaitaki ferry. These cabins have 2 sets of bunk beds and an ensuite bathroom for extra convenience.
The cost is slightly less than Bluebridge’s at NZD $40, which is very afforadble.
The WiFi is included in both companies, with Interislander offering 500MB for free and Bluebridge offering free unlimited WiFi inside the terminals and the ships.
FOOD & DRINKS
On Interislander, you’ll have different restaurants to choose from:
- Ocean View Eatery with comfortable seats and delicious dishes
- Local Heroes Bar offers local brews, wine, and great views
- Interislander Premium Lounge, with an intimate ambiance and great food and drinks
Bluebridge has different food options, from smoothie bowls to smoked salmon toasties and much more, with the main dishes available from 9.00 AM to 5.00 AM, which is very convenient.
WHERE TO STAY IN PICTON
Picton has dozens of hotels to choose from so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay during your visit.
Below you’ll find properties suitable for luxury travelers, budget backpackers, and everyone in between.
LUXURY: PICTON WATERFRONT PENTHOUSE
MID-RANGE: BROADWAY MOTEL
BUDGET: ATLANTIS BACKPACKERS
FOR MORE OPTIONS IN PICTON, SEARCH ON BOOKING.COM
THINGS TO DO IN SOUTH ISLAND NEW ZEALAND
When you arrive in the South Island of New Zealand, you’re going to want to know the best things to do and see.
Lucky for you, I’ve put together an in-depth 2 week South Island New Zealand itinerary to help you plan your trip!
Read Now: 2 Week South Island New Zealand Itinerary
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WHAT TO PACK FOR NEW ZEALAND
When visiting New Zealand, here is a list of items I highly recommend bringing with you:
Must-Have Travel Essentials
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Reusable Water Bottle
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Quick-Dry Travel Towel
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SUMMARY – FERRY NEW ZEALAND NORTH TO SOUTH ISLAND
I hope you enjoyed reading this article, and if you have any questions about the ferry New Zealand North to South Island, please drop me a comment below this post, and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
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TRAVEL RESOURCES FOR YOUR NEXT TRIP
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THANKS FOR READING
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