The Cook Strait ferry Aratere is back at sea today after being given the all-clear by the Maritime Safety Authority overnight.

The vessel, which has been out of action this week because of engine trouble, left Wellington just before 6 am carrying freight but no passengers.

That is a condition from safety officials who want to make sure the Aratere can make the crossing without any problems.

Tranz Rail spokesman Thomas Davis says the Aratere reached Picton without problems and then loaded up with passengers for the return crossing.


Passengers who were booked on the first sailing have been rebooked on later sailings of the Lynx and Arahura.

The Aratere can only use the two of its four engines that were fitted with new bearings, meaning each crossing of the strait will take half an hour longer than usual.