The Tirikat ferry is stuck in Devonport after breaking down this afternoon, forcing another of Fuller's ferries to return to Auckland with passengers still on board.

Passengers using the ferry this evening should expect some delays but the company was trying to get thing running smoothly again as soon as possible, said Fuller's general manager Gavin Old.

Old said it was not yet clear why Tirikat had broken down, all that was known so far was that she wasn't able to leave after berthing in Devonport.

The Kea was only able to berth at the same dock Tirikat was stuck in, Old said, so the ferry had to return to Auckland where the passengers on board would be put on a different ferry before returning to the North Shore.

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He could not say at this stage whether passengers on board Kea would be getting a refund, only that Fullers was doing their best to get everyone to their destination as soon as they could.

"We're just dealing with moving the passengers over."

Fullers would be using alternative vessels to keep running their usual services but delays were likely.