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Interislander - Cook Strait Ferries

Horses and Ponies

We have been helping people get their horses and ponies across Cook Strait for over 60 years – from thoroughbreds off to race at Trentham to ponies competing at Horse of the Year.

You decide whether your drive your float or truck onboard or you leave it to the horse transport professionals which do regular crossings. Either way we want to ensure your horse has a safe sailing. We have added some useful information to help you plan your Cook Strait journey. This has been prepared in conjunction with the MPI Animal Welfare team.

For animal welfare reasons we do not carry horses when swells on Cook Strait are over 3.0 metres so you should ensure you build a bit of flexibility into your travel plans and keep an eye on the weather forecast. A tool such as will give you swell estimates.

We make sure trucks are well ventilated

horse trucks 1 horse trucks 2 George 2

When you book

Make sure you let us know you a travelling with a horse or horses when you book.

We can contact you if there are any changes for livestock sailings such as a weather alert. You are responsible for your horse when it is onboard. 

If you have any questions contact  

Your horse needs to be in good condition to travel

  • Your horse/pony should not travel if they are unwell 
  • Sick or injured (unless certified fit for travel by a practicing vet)
  • Horses in the last three months (90 days) of pregnancy should not be travelling on the ferry unless given clearance by a vet
  • Foals less than four weeks of age must not be transported 
  • Unweaned foals over four weeks of age must be transported with their dam and require a trailer ‘box stall’ type of set up that would allow the dam and foal to move around the area 
  • Weanlings should be allowed a period of at least 4 weeks after separation from their dam to allow for feed adjustment and the mental and physical stress of the weaning event to subside 
  • You may want to talk to your vet about using a supplement such as a calming paste 
  • MPI has more information on their website 

Getting your horse ready for coming onboard

You need to ensure your horse or pony has been adequately prepared before they come onboard the Interislander - they need to have been fed, watered, and rested prior to their journey. 

Your float or truck needs to be in good condition

It needs to be well ventilated and has a non-slip surface - a surface that will provide adequate footing for shod and un-shod horses, and includes rubber mats, specialised horse trailer carpet, or slatted wooden floors.  

Internally, the construction of the floors, walls and internal divisions must provide appropriate strength and safety. Materials should be able to withstand the weight of the standing horse, in the case of floors, or repeated kicking, in the case of walls, kickboards and internal divisions.  

Please ensure that there is easy access to water before, during and after the journey.   

Water troughs and containers should be clean and not have any algae build up.  

The quantity and frequency of feeding will depend on the age and size of the horse or pony. It is also at the discretion of the owner – the horse or pony may be fine without food for the journey, provided it has been adequately prepared prior to going on the ferry. On-board rations may consist of a combination of hay and hard feed. Hard feed should be offered where appropriate, but horses and ponies should be accustomed to the feed they are receiving. Please do not introduce new feeds on the journey.  

Bringing hay onboard

  • Less than 60kg
    If you are carrying less than 60kg of hay please let us know at check in we will provide an identifier so our crew are aware.

  • Over 60kg
    A dangerous goods declaration needs to be made if you are carrying over 60kg of hay
    due to the risk of combustion.

  • Any hay loose in the back of a trailer must be completely covered and dry. 

Checking on your horse while onboard 

You cannot travel in your vehicle with your horse. You need to go to the passenger areas of the ferry. However, during the sailing our crew will make an announcement that you can go and check on your horse. A crew member will take you to the vehicle deck. If additional visits are required, please ask our crew.    


  • Interislander doesn't take livestock during heavy swells or storm conditions for the safety of the animals. We make an effort to inform customers in advance for any such weather but if your sailing with a horse or pony is cancelled or disrupted it is the owner’s responsibility to look after them as Interislander does not have any livestock care facilities onsite.
  • Ships are inherently loud places and may cause distress to animals. While we attempt to minimise noise such as car alarms you may wish to take this into consideration.