Hundreds of ferry passengers spent more than the equivalent time of a flight to Los Angeles when their vessel finally docked in Picton after being delayed because of gale-force winds.
The Interislander ferry Kaitaki departed from Wellington at 9am on Tuesday with 570 passengers, and was due to arrive at 12.30pm - but was only able to berth at 9pm.
Passengers on the smaller Bluebridge ferry were in for an even longer haul, with their ferry having departed from the capital at 8am.
Interislander general manager Walter Rushbrook said strong southeast gales delayed Cook Strait ferries trying to berth, with winds gusting more than 40 knots (74km/h) down Picton harbour.
Part of the Picton terminal has also been damaged by the unusually high winds.
"We are waiting for a lull in the weather to be able to berth safely," Rushbrook said.
"The weather is forecast to ease later this evening, but exactly when is unpredictable."
Herald Wellington business editor Hamish Rutherford was on the Kaitiaki and confirmed the ferry docked at 9pm.
He praised the ship's crew for their "excellent" work and noted "they all pulled huge hours".
Earlier in the day just as the ferry was due to arrive it turned around to cruise around the Sounds waiting for the winds to calm down, Rutherford said.
Passengers could see the Bluebridge vessel, which departed at 8am, doing the same thing.
"Everything seemed to be going fine. The crossing was rough, but we've had much rougher in the past. But just as we went in to dock. the ferry spun around, the captain saying the wind was too strong and we'd do a lap of the harbour, and now we've been doing laps the past eight hours."
Rutherford, travelling with his fiance Aimee Gulliver to the South Island for their wedding on Sunday, said the mood aboard was "surprisingly upbeat".
They'd been served complimentary fish and chips, and offered refreshments.
"Everybody is pretty understanding, I mean the wind is very strong and just hasn't dropped.
"People are surprisingly upbeat, there are a few school trips aboard, parents with their children heading to university, people are understandably a bit ratty and tired but the mood has been pretty good. The staff have been very nice."
Rushbrook said Picton tugs were 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," he said.
The delays have also affected later sailings, with two return services cancelled by the weather.
"We are contacting all affected customers, and are targeting to clear the backlog of passengers and vehicles within 24 hours," Rushbrook said.
"We apologise for the inconvenience, however the safety of our passengers and crew must be our number one priority."