It's been a frustrating start to the weekend for some travellers on one of the Interislander ferries.

A sailing of the Aratere from Wellington to Picton has been turned back this afternoon, due to technical issues affecting the propulsion system.

A KiwiRail spokesperson said the ship has been returned to Wellington as a safety precaution.

They said the safety of the ship and its passengers was never compromised, engineers are working to remedy the problem and they have to have it fixed shortly.

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Passengers and freight of Aratere sailings are being transferred to other sailings in the meantime.