Why every Kiwi should take a trip on the Interislander

Kath Bier shares her love for what's known as one of the greatest ferry rides in the world.
Kath Bier shares her love for what's known as one of the greatest ferry rides in the world. Photo credit: Supplied.

OPINION: So, New Zealand has made it back into the Lonely Planet’s list of top places to visit? Not only that, we’re now sitting at number five and we’re a must for adventurers and nature lovers.

It’s a great reminder that we’re incredibly lucky as Kiwis to be surrounded by so much beautiful scenery and how simple activities and trips can bring so much joy.

One of my favourite trips is across the Cook Strait from Wellington to Picton and back, on the Interislander. It’s a journey that’s been called one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world, and with good reason.

There’s the view of Wellington as it curves around the bays, and at the other end, the Marlborough Sounds with its bays and islands all around.

On the crossing itself, dolphins often trail the ferry and ships and whales have been sighted from the decks.

Breeze host Kath Bier with her son Jesse on the Interislander.
Breeze host Kath Bier with her son Jesse on the Interislander.

My appreciation goes back to when I was eight years old, just before the bell went for morning tea, my dad turned up to school. He took me out of class and told me that he was taking me to Picton for an ice-cream.

We drove all the way from Hawke’s Bay, straight up the ramp and onto the boat. I don’t remember anything about the car trip. I don’t remember the ice-cream. I don’t remember how long we were in Picton for. But I do remember the ferry.

The Interislander has been a big part of Kiwi life since 1962, carrying almost a million passengers a year and providing daily passage for cars, trucks, trains and livestock from North to South and South to North. It’s something we, as New Zealanders, should be very proud of.

Over that time there have been 13 ships carrying guests from sheep through to movie stars and most recently the America’s Cup from Wellington to Picton. Nowadays, the Arahura, Aratere and Kaitaki are like mini cruise liners.

In the last school holidays, we took our two sons on the Kaitaki to drop them off at their grandparents in Nelson.

We could have chucked them on a plane but then we’d miss all that magical time together. The Ferry is a great leveller for our family. All that time to just “be”. We played an epic game of monopoly and built Lego creations.

We bumped into old friends we hadn’t seen in years. And we made new friends. We waited not so patiently for the freshly baked scones to be ready and when they were, we were first in line and devoured them with jam and cream. The “ferry scones” are now a family tradition. 

Our family has so many stories from so many sailings, each one different. Some are drama filled with gigantic waves. Some are bittersweet with sad goodbyes. And some have been life changing with big decisions made on the Cook Strait.

Life is rushed and busy and agitated and aggravated. Sailing on the Interislander hits pause for a few hours and is a trip I highly recommend.

This opinion piece has been created for the Interislander.