Hundreds of passengers stuck on ferry to Picton as strong winds cause delays

More than 500 passengers have been stuck on a ferry near Picton since 9am on Tuesday. 

The Kaitaki ferry, carrying 570 passengers, is struggling to berth in Picton due to the high winds.

One passenger told Newshub they tried to berth in Picton but were above the wind limit so did a one-hour long loop around the Marlborough Sounds. 

"We did that… And we were still above the limit so went for a second one-hour loop then a third one-hour loop and of course, it was 3:30pm by then," the source said.

The passenger said the wind was so severe the captain compared it to a hurricane.  

"He explained that hurricane wind would be an excess of 63 to 64 knots and we were experiencing gusts of sometimes in the 70s and 80s," they said.

Interislander general manager, Walter Rushbrook, said they are waiting for a lull in the weather to berth the ferry safely.

The weather is expected to ease later this evening, but exactly when is unpredictable.

"Picton tugs are in position to assist with berthing if necessary. Passengers have been kept advised of the delays and passengers have been offered complimentary food and beverages," Rushbrooki said 

Rushbrook said the delay has affected later sailing and they're working to clear the backlog within the next 24 hours.

"The safety of our passengers and crew must be our number one priority," he said.