Interislander - Cook Strait Ferries

Five reasons why the ferry beats flying!

When it comes to travelling between New Zealand’s two main islands, there are two choices. The first is to fly, the second is to catch the Interislander Cook Strait ferry.

When it comes to travelling between New Zealand’s two main islands, there are two choices. The first is to fly, the second is to catch the Interislander Cook Strait ferry. If you are wondering which is better, then here’s five reasons why the ferry is the answer!

1. Time

In today’s hurried world, the default option for everything is “the faster the better”. For this reason, you are probably already thinking that flying is better. However, your curiosity has led you here looking for reasons to catch the ferry and, funnily, time is one of them. When you buy a ticket for the ferry, you are buying time to relax and unwind.

Yes, whilst the jet-set are hurtling through the clouds, crammed in their little tube, sifting through inflight magazines, playing games on their phones, waiting impatiently for their cup of instant coffee, you’ll be cruising at a leisurely pace, waving at people on the shores as they wave back, perambulating the decks and enjoying the fresh sea air. You can even upgrade to our Premium Lounge with freshly prepared food from local produce and wine. 

Time is an indulgent commodity in today’s world. Yet, when you catch the ferry, you have so much time on your hands that you spend the first half-an-hour feeling a little disoriented. Should you sit down, walk around, play a game, get a coffee, catch the latest movie, have a wine or beer, get a lovely breakfast (even though you already had breakfast and/or it’s mid-afternoon)?  So, you should probably start off by doing nothing for ten minutes to adjust to this forgotten sensation. You’ve left rushing behind on the shore and you are now officially on holiday. And speaking of holidays, each school holidays we take the kids off your hands with Nigel the Magician, Zappo and more.

So goodbye jet-setters, enjoy your inconveniently located airport, all those people and all that traffic. You’re just going to take our time and it’s going to feel great! 

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2. Scenery

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If you want to see New Zealand from the air, then simply go to Google Maps. It’s not quite the same as “seeing” New Zealand, is it though? Whilst you are in Google Maps, you will see the Interislander ferry route meandering through the Tory Channel and Queen Charlotte Sound. Dotted with isolated islands and secretive bays, this is one of the most remote parts of the world. It is also stunningly beautiful.

Many travellers agree that the Marlborough Sounds are amongst New Zealand’s top areas of outstanding natural beauty. This is why the iconic Interislander journey is ranked as one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world and a must-do experience in New Zealand. This is reflected by its high ranking in TripAdvisor – unlike the plane…

There are two ways to enjoy the Marlborough Sounds at their most spectacular. The first is to go to Picton and hike the Marlborough walking tracks. The second is to cruise through them by boat or ferry - which also requires going to Picton. Needless to say, sitting on the top deck of the Interislander ferry breathing in the natural beauty of the Marlborough Sounds is both the perfect way to see the Marlborough Sounds and to get to Picton (to see the Marlborough Sounds). For more on the scenery, read our blog on the unmissable sights on the Cook Strait  and more about Picton

3. Relaxation

Flying is a question of speed and effective time management. The concept is incredibly efficient, but it all starts to unravel when you hit the traffic to the airport. Then comes the exorbitant carpark or taxi costs. Now you’re late, so you grab an overpriced soggy old sandwich to eat on the plane. Then your plane is delayed on the tarmac waiting for a turn to take off. You ate the sandwich, but you’re still hungry and the only thing to eat is a free biscuit and instant coffee. Hurray! You’ve landed, but now you’re tediously taxying around the tarmac. You wait for your baggage, ugh,  you say “no thanks” to the expensive food and hurry to another expensive taxi and more traffic. Oh dear. The cheap one-hour flight has taken half a day and cost a fortune. 

So here comes the third advantage to catching the ferry between the South Island and North Island.

Firstly, the Interislander terminal is a doddle to get to. Secondly, you don’t need to park your car because you can just take it with you. So, thirdly, before you’ve even set sail, you are a whole lot more relaxed than your hustling, bustling, jet-setting counterpart.

The relaxation gets better from here on in, because your ferry journey is about drifting along and enjoying yourself.

Feeling hungry? You can go to a restaurant and choose what you want to eat - and you can go back again later if you like.

Thirsty? You can have a barista cappuccino and a slice of freshly baked cake - or the scone trolley that comes around later in the journey - with jam and cream, of course! After that, you can treat yourself to a bottle of wine – your own full-sized bottle of wine, complete with wineglass (made from glass). And, you can top it up when you like. It’s yours.

Feel like a wander outside? You can go outside and enjoy the views and breathe in that fresh sea air whenever you please.

Bored? That’s unlikely, seeing how you can go to the cinema or watch live Sky Sports, play games at your table or explore the various decks of the ship. But if it does happen, just go to the shop where you’ll find plenty more thing of interest.

Switch your mobile to flight mode? Ha-ha, no. In fact, we encourage you to go on Facebook and Instagram and share all the fun you are having using #GreatJourneysofNZ. Of course, your jet-setting buddies won’t be able to see it until they’ve got to their hotel and finally gone to have some food, but all your friends and family back home will be able to comment and like in real-time!

Sadly, the three and a half hours will sail by and disappointingly the PA announcement will mean it’s time to get off. But never mind, there’s the return journey to look forward to. 

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4. Baggage

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Cumbersome, heavy and annoying - you even have to wait around for it. Everywhere you go, your baggage is weighing you down. Yes, baggage really is baggage when you fly - and if you want to take something big or heavy then it’s probably going to double your fare and make travelling even more tiresome.

However, when you take a ferry, luggage is your friend. No need to “keep an eye on it” or drag it around. No, on the ferry you simply leave your luggage in the car and the more you take, the happier you’ll be.

Oversized luggage? No, no, no. If you can’t fit it in the car then just attach it to your car or hire a trailer. Yes, bikes. Bring ‘em along. You can even take your pets with you on holiday! Why not, it’s free with your vehicle.

Bring everything. Kitchen sink, the family dog, a bike for everyone, kayak? Not a problem. 

5. The Experience

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The jet-setter will explain how their journey wasn’t too bad. How the traffic wasn’t too bad. How the queues at the airport weren’t too bad and the seats weren’t too cramped. This is fine, but if they start to show you photos of their journey then you should consider finding some more interesting friends.

Meanwhile, as a ferry traveller you’ve had a day of adventure on the high seas! You’ve seen amazing sights, eaten great food, watched a movie, gorged on delicious cakes, had a few drinks already. If you have kids then they’ll be yabbering away about how big the ship was and all the fun things they did on board. When you start showing your photos, your jet-setting friends will be stunned and thinking about catching the ferry next time!

You see, travelling isn’t always about getting from “A to B”. Neither must it be a tiresome long journey spent behind the wheel of a car. Your holiday needn’t be bookended with lugging baggage around a busy airport. That’s right, the ferry takes away all of this.

When taking the inter-island ferry, you get a chance to find time. To relax and unwind. It’s a chance to spend time with family or friends without distraction. You have scenery; you have bars, cafes and restaurants; you have cinemas, shops and play-areas. But best of all, you have time to enjoy the experience.

You see, sailing across Cook Strait with Interislander isn’t just travel. Sailing across Cook Strait with Interislander can easily be the best and most memorable experience of your holiday! So what are you waiting for?  Check our sailings and plan your next trip on the Interislander!