Fotoeins Fotografie

photography as worlds between words
On board "Kaitaki" Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton, New Zealand, fotoeins.com

New Zealand: Interislander across Cook Strait

The calendar page flips over to the 14th of July (2012).

I’ve spent a quiet week with friends in Wellington, New Zealand, and it’s time I head south to see Te Wai Pounamu or the South Island for the first time. My first destination is Christchurch, and I could fly there. But I’m in no hurry, and I want to experience the scenery route with a ferry across Raukawa, otherwise known as Cook Strait.

I’ve arranged passage from Wellington on the North Island (Te Ika a Maui) to Christchurch on the South Island with ferry- and coach-service with KiwiRail. The journey begins with the Interislander ferry whose arrival is timed to match the departure time of the Coastal Pacific train leaving Picton for Christchurch.

There’s little car traffic at 8am on this Saturday morning in Wellington. But it’s also cold, grey, misty, gusty, and pouring rain: another typical winter day in Welly. As I’m dropped off at Aotea Quay, I can see the large ferry vessel. I’m in luck – I’m going to board one of the largest vessels in the fleet – the Kaitaiki.

The 815am ferry is the first Interislander ferry of the day on the winter schedule. The ferry slowly moves out and into the harbour, leaving sleepy Wellington behind, then heading east and south into the harbour. Upon reaching the deep waters of Cook Strait, the ferry heads west-northwest until we’re in sight of the South Island. At Marlborough Sounds, the water passage or Torry Channel is narrow, and the ferry must slow down as it winds way west towards Picton.

While the ferry reminds me of another ferry passage back home in British Columbia (between Tsawwassen on the mainland and Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island), the three-and-a-half-hour Interislander provides incredible and beautiful views, even through low cloud, fog, and heavy rain showers.

Sure enough, by 1140am, Picton is in sight and the ferry arrives quietly. I don’t even have to pick up my luggage and transfer it over myself; another advantage of the combined itinerary with KiwiRail is the automatic baggage-transfer from ship to rail. It’s a short 10 minute walk from the ferry terminal to the adjacent train station. I check-in and it’s just a matter of waiting for the Coastal Pacific train to leave at 1pm for Christchurch.


Past Seatoun into Breaker Bay, on board "Kaitaki" Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton, New Zealand, fotoeins.com

Past Seatoun into Breaker Bay

Shallow rocks; Strathmore Park on the Miramar peninsula, on board "Kaitaki" Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton, New Zealand, fotoeins.com

Shallow rocks; Strathmore Park on the Miramar peninsula

On board "Kaitaki" Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton, New Zealand

At the harbour exit/entrance (Te Au-A-Tane), east to Pencarrow Head (Te Raeakiaki)

On board "Kaitaki" Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton, New Zealand

On board “Kaitaki” Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton

Lyall Bay, WLG airport: on board "Kaitaki" Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton, New Zealand, fotoeins.com

Lyall Bay, WLG airport

Shining on Wellington harbour (Port Nicholson), on board "Kaitaki" Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton, New Zealand, fotoeins.com

Shining on Wellington harbour (Port Nicholson)

On board "Kaitaki" Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton, New Zealand, fotoeins.com

Made in Holland

South coast of North Island, on board "Kaitaki" Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton, New Zealand, fotoeins.com

South coast of the North Island

Cook Strait, on board "Kaitaki" Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton, New Zealand, fotoeins.com

Moving forward into Cook Strait

On board "Kaitaki" Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton, New Zealand, fotoeins.com

Wellington to Picton, map 1 of 4

On board "Kaitaki" Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton, New Zealand

Across Cook Strait (Raukawa), map 2 of 4

On board "Kaitaki" Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton, New Zealand, fotoeins.com

Entering Tory Channel & the South Island, map 3 of 4

On board "Kaitaki" Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton, New Zealand

Queen Charlotte Sound into Picton, map 4 of 4

Approaching the South Island, on board "Kaitaki" Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton, New Zealand, fotoeins.com

In Cook Strait, approaching the South Island

West Head, entering Tory Channel: on board "Kaitaki" Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton, New Zealand, fotoeins.com

West Head, entering Tory Channel

East Head, entering Tory Channel: on board "Kaitaki" Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton, New Zealand, fotoeins.com

East Head, entering Tory Channel

Tory Channel, on board "Kaitaki" Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton, New Zealand, fotoeins.com

Looking aft into Tory Channel

On board "Kaitaki" Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton, New Zealand

In Tory Channel (Kura Te Au) with this starboard-view to Te Awaiti Bay and Arapaoa Island, and New Zealand’s first station for shore whaling in 1827. Whaling wouldn’t last long as hunting quickly depleted the number of whales swimming through these waters.

On board "Kaitaki" Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton, New Zealand, fotoeins.com

Port and aft

On board "Kaitaki" Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton, New Zealand, fotoeins.com

Foggy cove, one of many on the South Island

Kaitaiki, Interislander Ferry, Queen Charlotte Sound, Tōtaranui, Waikawa Bay, The Snout, Snout Point, Te Ihumoeone-ihu, Te Waipounamu, South Island, Aotearoa, New Zealand, fotoeins.com

In Queen Charlotte Sound (Tōtaranui, “many large tōtara trees” ), with the port-side view facing south to Waikawa Bay. In the foreground is a narrow spit in the shape of a long nose; this geographical feature is called “The Snout” with its tip naturally called Snout Point. In Maori, the feature is Te Ihumoeone-ihu, which many have translated as “nose of the sandworm.” However, as moeone is the Maori name for stone- or groper-bass (polyprion americanus) that’s found in these waters, I might go with “mouth/snout of the bass.”

Entering Picton Harbour, on board "Kaitaki" Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton, New Zealand, fotoeins.com

Entering Picton Harbour

Picton, on board "Kaitaki" Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton, New Zealand, fotoeins.com

Welcome to Picton

Picton, on board "Kaitaki" Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton, New Zealand, fotoeins.com

Docking next to the Bluebridge vessel in Picton


In addition to the Interislander ferries, Bluebridge also traverses the same route both ways across Cook Strait. On arrival at either terminal, passengers are free to rent (hire) a car or to ride coaches to reach their destinations.

In subsequent travel, I’m on two additional trains on New Zealand’s South Island:

•   my trip on the Coastal Pacific train from Picton to Christchurch along the Pacific coast.
•   my trip on the TranzAlpine train from Christchurch to Greymouth over the Southern Alps.

Disclosure: No Connection, Unpaid, My Own Opinions. I have not received compensation for this post, and I have no material connection to the Interislander Ferry or Tourism New Zealand. I made the photos above on 14 July 2012. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-2hd.

11 Responses to “New Zealand: Interislander across Cook Strait”

    • fotoeins

      Thanks, Jen! I wanted to keep in the photos the grey somber mood of the cold wet winter day across the water, and I think I achieved that. What that also meant was that if anything stuck out or was illuminated, they really did stick out, and in a good way! Thanks again for commenting!

      Like

  1. Erik Smith

    It was a little pricey, but was functional transportation as well as a scenic cruise. I’ll have a post coming on my experience when I get that far along (I’m on day 11 and the ferry was on day 20, could be a while 🙂 )

    Great photos, I love the composition of so many of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • fotoeins

      Thanks, Erik! I paid $129 NZD for the ferry-and-rail combined trip from Wellington to Christchurch, which was a (web-)saver fare; I didn’t think that was particularly bad for the low- and winter-season, and I imagine prices (and demand) going up with temperature as conditions improve. I look forward to reading your upcoming NZD posts! Thanks again for reading and commenting!

      Like

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