Interislander celebrates 60 years of connecting Aotearoa New Zealand
Interislander is celebrating 60 years of holiday memories, whānau trips, school camps, freight deliveries, stormy seas and sunny days.
12 Aug 2022
On 13 August 1962, the first passengers boarded Aramoana to sail to Waitohi Picton on the purpose-built ferry. This was the first ferry to carry vehicles and rail wagons and the birth of Interislander.
Since then, there have been another 43 million passenger trips on Aramoana and its successors. Various Interislander ferries have been sailing Te Moana o Raukawakawa between Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington and Waitohi Picton ever since, making more than 300,000 crossings in 60 years.
KiwiRail Chief Executive Peter Reidy says Interislander is a remarkable story of resilience and pride in delivering a critical service for New Zealanders and a strong connection for trade and passengers moving between the North and South Islands across a challenging stretch of water.
Interislander carries around 850,000 passengers, 240,000 cars and $14 billion worth of freight on around 3,800 sailings every year.
“This is a momentous year for Interislander. We’re celebrating 60 years but also looking to the future and strengthening our connection with the whenua, the rich history of Te Moana o Raukawakawa Cook Strait and with our Mana Whenua partners,” Mr Reidy says.
“Working closely with our Mana Whenua partners Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika, Ngāti Toa Rangatira and Te Ātiawa o Te Waka-a-Māui will ensure that we’ve got a richer and stronger bond as we look ahead and create a legacy for the next 60 years.”
Interislander General Manager Walter Rushbrook says Interislander provides an invaluable service to New Zealanders and has created many magical memories for Kiwis and visitors alike.
“We probably all remember the first time we sailed on Interislander, whether it was the beauty of the crossing on a sunny day, spotting dolphins, eating our ‘world famous’ fish and chips or enjoying a ‘band on board’. We all have amazing memories of cruising on the Interislander and sailing to the other side.
“This year we’re celebrating the rich cultural history and connections of Interislander over the last 60 years but we’re also looking ahead to the introduction of our new hybrid electric ships - arriving in 2025 and 2026 - and new terminals in Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington and Waitohi Picton,” Mr Rushbrook says
The new ferries are designed specifically for the unique sailing conditions in Te Moana o Raukawakawa Cook Strait. When running at full operating capacity, the two new rail-enabled ferries will be able to carry nearly double the number of passengers, and commercial and passenger vehicles when compared with the current fleet and rail freight capacity will triple.
The new ferries will also deliver a major improvement in KiwiRail’s environmental performance, including contributing to a 40 per cent reduction in Interislander’s carbon emissions immediately.
“These ferries will better connect the North and South Islands, improving the efficiency and resilience of New Zealand’s supply chain. They will also take Interislander’s service to a whole new level, with fantastic onboard experiences to suit everyone. The only thing that will stay the same is the warm customer service which everyone has come to expect from us,” Mr Rushbrook says.
- Number of passengers carried in 60 years: around 43 million (est)
- Crossings undertaken in 60 years: around 300,000 (est)
- Distance travelled per year: 200,000 nautical miles or 380,000 kilometres – enough to sail from Wellington to London and back nearly seven times