Interislander ferry Arahura sails into retirement

(Photo: 3 News)
(Photo: 3 News)

The Interislander's Arahura has been in service for 33 years, and today it set sail from Wellington for the last time.

It was a sad moment for 71-year-old Joyce, who did not want her surname used. She and her husband were frequent travellers on the ferry and she's made a trip in his memory every year since his death in 1999.

She even laid her husband to rest off the ship.

The Arahura was built in Denmark, and it was made to be tough. A lot of time was spent on the design, to battle strong winds and waves. The ship has since made 50,000 trips across Cook Strait.

Lynette Payne worked on board for a decade and says it's a tough vessel.

"It's the best ship of the fleet, seen some very rough weather, but the ship handles it."

Arahura's been a mainstay for the Interislander, and also played a key role rescuing passengers of stricken Russian cruise ship the Mikhail Lermontov, in the Queen Charlotte Sound in 1986.

But as of midnight Friday it'll no longer be allowed to carry any passengers, and with a $25 million bill to get it up to scratch, it'll likely end up in the scrap heap.

Ms Payne says it is a horrible demise for such a historic piece of machinery.

"Be a shame to see it go to the scrap. I'd buy it."

3 News