Ellie Haines, from @lovingelliesbelly, recently took Interislander for a weekend away in Wellington. The ferry was a highlight of her trip, with a stunning view from the viewing deck of this water playground as she crossed Cook Strait.
Here's some of what she found on board:
The Plus Lounge
Bar service, buffet-style food and a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere distinguishes the Plus Lounge – an adults-only enclave with armchairs and sofas and some of the best views of the outstanding scenery of the Marlborough Sounds. It currently costs $55 a head but food and drink is included and is a great way to spend the three-and-a-half hour crossing. Seats have to be reserved when you are making your booking – meaning your comfort is guaranteed – and the food ranges from Marlborough salmon, bacon-wrapped chicken and pork belly (just to name a few of the choices) for dinner and lasagne, crumbed fish or antipasto platters for lunch. A dedicated chef is on board to cater for any dietary needs.
Unique Interislander beer
Relax with a beer – preferably the unique Island Hopper, an American Pale Ale specially brewed for the Interislander by Blenheim-based Renaissance Brewing. "This is local through and through," says Walter Rushbrook, Executive General Manager, Interislander. "It's a beer that evokes the hardy and exotic spirit of our legendary voyages from Kupe to Cook, from Hawaii to Havelock."
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Two storeys of playground
Okay, you can't go to the Plus Lounge because you're a family; you have kids. They'll thank you for it when they see the two storeys of kids' playground – a veritable feast for a playful child and an ideal distraction as well. The Kaitaki has the double-storey playground while the Aratere's is not quite as big but still great fun.
A relatively new feature proving highly popular, the high tea served on the Aratere in the Plus Lounge is a really traditional production. Rushbrook says: "The team have really committed to high tea on the high seas and are really enjoying providing this unique experience. It's the whole nine yards – fine china, tiered cake holders, the works."
Record passenger numbers
With Covid-19 and the emphasis on domestic tourism, New Zealanders have been flocking to take advantage of their big backyard and travelling between islands. The Interislander has enjoyed record numbers in July and August – and their advice is, book early.
The Great Journeys of New Zealand
Interislander is known as a car ferry – but who knew that about a third of all passengers travel without a vehicle? One of the reasons is that the Picton rail terminal is two minutes' walk away from where the Interislander berths and is well signposted. At the terminal, passengers can connect with the Coastal Pacific scenic train to Christchurch – a great journey skirting close to the ocean and bush-clad mountains. At Wellington, those wanting to explore the North Island by train can connect with the Northern Explorer.
Comfort is not just restricted to the Plus Lounge. All Interislander ferries – Kaitaki, Kaiarahi and Aratere – have plenty of seating and eating arrangements. Kaitaki, for example, has the Queen Charlotte Lounge where, for a $20 entry fee, you can enjoy a $15 food voucher for use at any restaurant, café or bar on board and private seating on the port and starboard sides of Hector's Lounge. The latter has good barista coffee, pizza and other food options. Kaiarahi and Aratere also have Quiet Lounges, allocated to people who want peace and quiet on their crossing.
For more information visit greatjourneysofnz.co.nz/interislander