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Crossing the Cook Strait with your campervan

15th Oct 13

Hitting the road in a campervan offers you the true Kiwi experience. The rolling hills, the scenic vistas and spectacular coastlines all make for a picturesque drive through the countryside. But if you want to travel between the North and South Islands, there's only one way across.

Of course you could try swimming across the Cook Straight (and some have attempted it in the past!), or taking an amphibious van across to the other side, or you just could take the safest and easiest route - on either the Interislander Ferry or the Blue Bridge Ferry

This three hour ferry ride, between Wellington and Picton, is one of the country's most beautiful trips and is a site-seeing opportunity in its own right. The journey provides amazing views of the Marlborough Sounds, rugged lower North Island coastline and Wellington Harbour and bridges the gap between our two small islands.

If you want to take your campervan across on the ferry, here is what you need to know.

Crossing Cook Straight Via FerryBook ahead:
If you plan to go during the peak travel months, November through April, it pays to book in advance. Spots can get taken quite quickly as tourists and locals plan their summer holidays. You should try and reserve your ferry spot at the same time you book your campervan. Both ferries leave several times a day in each direction but just remember it is a three hour trip. 

What you will need:
When making Cook Strait ferry reservations you will need the full names of all your passengers, including the ages of any children. You will also need the measurements of your motorhome. Taking your campervan on-board is easy, just drive on and then drive off. You will need to arrive at the ferry terminal at least an hour before it is due to leave. This ensures there is plenty of time to drive on-board.

Fares for the ferry range between $190 and $463 plus the cost of passengers which ranges from $34 - $41 for children to $60-$73 for adults. Children under two ride for free. Fares are refundable and cancellations can be made at least two hours prior to sailing.

When to go:
The best time to go is during the summer months, December to March as this is when the sun is mainly shining and the clouds tend to stay away. This allows guests looking for that screen-saver worthy shot a better chance of getting it uninterrupted by rain and fog. Be aware that ferry fares are slightly higher during these peak summer months and as it gets busy, bookings are almost essential. 

Where to go:
The Wellington Interislander Terminal sits between the central city and State Highway 1 just 5 minutes from the central city on Aotea Key. The Blue Bridge Wellington terminal is on Waterloo Key in the central city. The Picton Interislander Terminal is on Auckland Street and a 10 minute walk from the centre of Picton. The Blue Bridge Picton terminal is on Lagoon Rd, less than a kilometre from the town centre.

Extra Information:
If you are travelling with a campervan there are no luggage restrictions and you are able to take as much as you like. Onboard there are large windows for great views, a gift shop, children's play area, observation decks, entertainment including video games, television and internet access as well as café and bars. Pets are allowed on the ferry and dogs and other small animals are allowed to remain in your vehicles without an extra charge. Guide dogs are able to stay with their owner without charge.

Have you crossed the Cook Strait with your campervan? What advice do you have for your fellow travellers? Feel free to leave us a comment below!


Image by UlanwpCook Straight with Rumutaka Range, by CC BY-SA 3.0.


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Filed under New Zealand Travel

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