Interislander - Cook Strait Ferries


The Aratika joined the Interislander fleet to carry freight along with the Arahanga.

Aratika 01

Aratika in the Marlborough Sounds 

The history of Aratika

Built at the Dubigeon-Normandie yard at Praire-au-Duc, Nantes, Aratika began operations as a freight ferry with space for only 10 passengers.

As demand for passenger services grew the decision was made to convert it to carry passengers. In 1976 Aratiki sailed to Hong Kong for a NZD $7 million refit to allow it to carry 840 passengers and 70 cars.

In stormy seas on Cook Strait in 1995 sailing from Wellington to Picton in five metre swells and 110 km/h winds two cars were lost overboard and five other vehicles were damaged.

It served New Zealand well completing 27,265 crossing and sailing 2.7 million kilometres before retiring in 1999.

Tell us your Interislander story

Most Kiwis have a memory of a trip on the Interislander or maybe you or your whānau worked on the ferries. We are keen to hear your stories. We will add each to the ship pages so they reflect the connections people have to each of the ferries. Photos are greatfully received as well.

You can email us your story at

Aratika specifications:

  • Meaning of the name: Direct path
  • Weight: 3,879 gross tonnes increasing to 9,035 gross tonnes after the passenger refit
  • Length: 127.7 metres
  • Capacity: 10 passengers (increasing 800 after refit) / 50 railway wagons