Interislander - Cook Strait Ferries

The Lynx

The Lynx was Interislander's fast ferry service introduced in 1994 and operated for 11 years in total. 

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History of The Lynx

Vessels were chartered each summer and reduced the time to cross Cook Strait by half, taking just over one and half hours.

The first was the Condor 10 which had been operating on the British Channel Islands route. In the first year of the fast ferry service the Lynx made 686 crossings with  212,334 passengers and 34,195 motor vehicles.

The fast ferries were not renowned for comfort in rough seas. In the first year, only four percent of sailings were cancelled and the Lynx was nicknamed the "Vomit Comet". The service was then restricted to sailing when there was less than four metre swells.

The first Lynx had an English master who was not used to Wellington weather. The sea trials had gone well but a gentle northerly had been blowing. It changed to a southerly in time for the first journey across the Strait, one carrying government officials and journalists. The Lynx was hitting its stride when it went around the heads and meet the swell. It hit the first wave, bounced and came down with a crash sending crew and passengers flying!

In 1999-2000 the Condor Vitesse become "the Lynx", followed from 2000 by the Incat 057 for a year-round service. Incat 046 arrived in 2003.

By 2000 there was growing concern about the impact of the fast ferry service on the environment-the wake caused significant damage to the shoreline in Wellington harbour and Marlborough Sounds. The Wellington harbour master had imposed speed restrictions in 1994. Marlborough District Council followed in 2000 imposing a 18 knot speed limit between Picton and Tory Channel.

The crossing now took 2 hours and 15 minutes, only around 45 minutes faster than the conventional ferries. Increasing fuel prices and mechanical issues further impacted on the economics of fast ferries. We said goodbye to these impressive vessels in 2005.

Hang on! The Lynx seagull TV advertisements

With the fast ferries came another memorable advertising campaign - the seagulls holding onto the Lynx bow.

The animated seagulls came from necessity. The advertisements had to be released before the Condor 10 arrived so there wasn't a ferry to film. The ad agency came up with the seagull family being plucked off one by one as the Lynx speeds up.

The same agency came up with the not very Kiwi name, the Lynx. Not only did it suggest speed but also linking the North and South Islands.

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