Interislander - Cook Strait Ferries


Kaiarahi became an Interislander ferry in 2013 when it arrived from the Baltic to cover the peak summer period  while Aratere was out of service. It was retained and purchased to replace the Arahura in 2015.

Untitled design 49 950x575Interislander Kaiarahi Three dolphins in the foreground RP71 Interislander Kaiarahi in Queen Charlotte Sound 2560x1706 FocusFillWzEwMjQsNjQwLCJ5IiwyMV0

The History of Kaiarahi

Kaiarahi has had a diverse career and has had many names before becoming an Interislander ferry:

  • 1998 - Built and launched as the Dawn Merchant and chartered for service in Turkey
  • 1999 - Chartered to Norse Merchant Ferries and moved to Scandanavia
  • 2002 - Chartered by Norfolkline
  • 2005 - Renamed Europax Appia
  • 2006 - Chartered to Balearia and renamed Pau Casals
  • 2009 - Chartered to T-Link lines and renamed T-Rex
  • 2010 - Renamed Norman Trader and chartered to LD Lines sailing between Dover and Boulogne
  • 2013 - Sold to Stena Line and moved onto the Kariskrona (Sweden) and Gdynia (Poland) route. Refitted and renamed Sten Alegra. On 28 October, it was driven ashore at Kariskrona in a heavy storm.
  • November 2013 - Chartered by KiwiRail while Aratere was out of service and then replaced the Arahura in 2015.
  • August 2021 - Kaiarahi had a very serious gearbox failure which has meant it was been out of serivce moored in Picton while very complex repairs have been carried out. Kaiarahi returned to service in September 2022.

Kaiarahi specifications:

  • Meaning of the name: Leader
  • Built: 1998 by Astilleros Espanoles S.A., Spain
  • Weight: 22,152 gross tonnes
  • Length: 180 metres
  • Capacity: 520 passengers and 5,100 tonnes of up to 525 cars, 108 trailers and 65 trucks

Tell us your Interislander story

Most Kiwis have a memory of a trip on the Interislander or maybe you or your whanau 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