The Aratere is the longest serving ship in the Interislander fleet but is still one of the most modern and high tech vessels on New Zealand waters. It can carry up to 600 passengers and with it being 183.5 metres in length you will not be short of space to roam.
Onboard you’ll find a food court, luxury premium seating, children’s playing and changing facilities, a cinema room and even free WiFi, so you won’t have to miss out on work or keeping in touch with family and friends. The lounge bar is the perfect way to relax and is stocked with a large selection of world famous New Zealand wine.
There are no cabins on this Interislander ship, however, there is enough comfortable seating aboard the Aratere for everyone to sit back and relax, even during the busy Christmas and Easter periods. For those who want some privacy during their crossing there is the luxurious Premium Plus Lounges on offer. Premium travellers get to experience the Aratere Plus Seating, as well as three complimentary meals.
If you fancy a bite to eat on your journey through New Zealand waters then you can visit the onboard Food Court. A large array of dishes are available to suit even the most discerning tastes. There are two eating areas on Deck 4, the Pennant Café and the F’oc’sle Lounge Bar. Here you can sample of a range of hot and cold food, including the Interislander’s specially designed pie. For those who fancy sampling some of the local specialities, the bar is stocked with an impressive selection of famous New Zealand wines.
The shop on the ship offers the chance to buy your New Zealand souvenirs as well as travel items, newspapers, confectionery, gifts, puzzles, toys, postcards and stamps. You can also purchase tickets for the cinema room here too.
There are a number of additions that will help you while away the hours. The cinema room shows the latest movie releases with showings suitable for all ages. Local bands and performers are often used onboard, including magicians and clowns for younger passengers. A Bureau de Change is available for any passengers who need to exchange some last minute currency.
Onboard the ship there is plenty to keep some of the younger passengers occupied. On Deck 4 you can find the Children’s Play Area, a safe and fun environment for little ones to play games, use the slides and pass time in front of the Disney Playhouse Channel that’s displayed on the televisions. There are also two conveniently placed nursery rooms in close proximity to the play area which provide baby changing facilities. The cinema room also shows films to suit all generations.
The facilities aboard the Aratere are located on one long and wide deck, meaning that accessibility around the ship is suitable for disabled access. This includes all amenities and the viewing area at the front. This vessel has been accredited with Silver Status on the Be Accessible website.
Please Note: Whilst we have taken great care in making our Aratere guide as accurate as possible, onboard facilities, services and entertainment may vary depending on the date and time of year that you travel, facilities mentioned may change without notification and ferry companies reserve the right to operate vessels other than those mentioned at time of booking without prior notification.
98% of our customers recommended this ship
"Does what it says on the tin!"
Check in easy, ship left on time, food tasty, staff very helpful and pleasant and facilities clean and tidy. Not a huge amount of passengers when we sailed so plenty of room to sit. Really nice crossing and we had an escort of dolphins.
Reviewed by Joanna who travelled with Interislander on Aratere
"Very enjoyable experience "
We were blessed with lovely, calm weather so had a very smooth and comfortable trip. We were in the Premium Lounge and had access to free food - both hot and cold - and to free drinks. The seats were comfortable and well spaced out, and we were abke to go out onto a private area at the back of the boat. The staff were attentive and friendly. All in all, a very enjoyable experience.
Reviewed by Alistair who travelled with Interislander on Aratere
We had good weather and calm seas so that obviously helped make the crossing great. The checkin procedure was easy, and the staff confirmed our free Direct Ferries upgrade to the Plus Lounge. Service there was excellent, and free drinks and food added to the experience. The scenery in the Marlborough Sounds is spectacular!
Reviewed by Anthony who travelled with Interislander on Aratere
"Picton to Wellinton crossing"
The most amazing ferry trip ever! The views on leaving Picton were just fantastic. Would recommend this crossing to anyone.
Reviewed by Jackie Robinson who travelled with Interislander on Aratere
"Picton to Wellington"
The ferry was on time until it came to unloading at Wellington. Foot passengers were held on board and had to disembark via bus due to issues with passenger ramp. Not great when on a timetable for the airport. On a positive note it was great the staff highlighted a pod of Dolphins which joined us for part of the journey across Cook Strait.
Reviewed by Anonymous who travelled with Interislander on Aratere
Very pleasant journey
Reviewed by Gerard who travelled with Interislander on Aratere
Upon check in we were pleasantly surprised that food and drinks were included in our fare and we should sit in the special lounge. And we were very well taken care of by the staff. The food and drinks tasted grate and we were sitting very comfortable enjoying the trip.
Reviewed by Christer who travelled with Interislander on Aratere
"A very pleasant journey with Interislander ferry "
Everything was very easy from check in to check out. The staff was very helpful and the ferry was clean and well maintained. The food and drinks in the lounge were perfect. We were so lucky to be upgraded. Thanks a lot Hanne and Rudolph
Reviewed by Rudolph who travelled with Interislander on Aratere
11.00 sailing and boarding was quick and smooth, we were a party of 6 and had the ‘upper class’ facilities where the staff are very good, the complimentary food and drink is worth the additional cost. Once in Wellington there was a problem with unloading the foot passengers (us and another 120 people), had to wait 50 mins to get off the boat via bus to the terminal. No real explanation and somewhat odd, just took the enjoyment away and a bit annoying end to the journey.
Reviewed by Rod who travelled with Interislander on Aratere
"Happy traveler "
Great service, great food, very nice ship.
Reviewed by Paul who travelled with Interislander on Aratere
Lovely way to travel from south island to north island so relaxing and staff are very helpful and friendly. Lovely food provided in plus lounge. Views spectacular.
Reviewed by Ronnie who travelled with Interislander on Aratere
"Ferry scheduled time changed but Direct Ferries did not inform me so missed connection at arrival po"
Extremely disappointed with Direct Ferries in that they did not inform me that the time of my Ferry had changed. This resulted in my Wife and myself missing our onward transport connections at the arrival port and meant we had to make very urgent alternative arrangements that meant we incurred significant additional costs. We made our booking in June 2019 (8 months before journey) via Direct Ferries for the Interislander Aratere ship from Wellington to Picton for departure at 14:15 on Friday 7th February 2020. We arrived at Wellington Aotea Quay only to be told that Ferry time has now been changed to 16:00. We had already booked onward transport at 18:15 for the InterCity 'connected to ferry' bus service at 18:15 from Picton to Blenheim. Contacted InterCity to confirm that the bus time had also changed to align with the Ferry changed times. Only to be informed that bus time remains the same and that the bus does not now connect with the Ferry !!! Incredible. The helpful staff at the Interislander Service Desk somehow managed to arrange transport for us from Picton to Blenheim however at significant costs due to the lack of available transfer options at short notice of of being an 'on the day' request, on a Friday evening and it was the Blenheim Wine Festival next day> Therefore most transport vehicles already booked and very very limited options available. If Direct Ferries had informed me of the change to the scheduled time of the Ferry when it happened, then I could have rescheduled my onward travel and not incurred the significant additional costs, plus the stress, of having to urgently try to arrange transport on a Friday night at the Blenheim Wine Festival. The cost of the hastily arranged onward transfer cost me more than the cost of the Ferry journey for my Wife and myself plus I also lost the cost of 2 pre-booked bus journeys. As there is no opportunity in this review survey to give feedback on Direct Ferries itself then I offer the following : Direct Ferries Communications : 0 Stars How likely is it that you would recommend Direct Ferries to a friend or colleague? (scale 0 to 10) : 0 - not at all likely The rest of the feedback in this review is now about the Ferry and the journey itself.
Reviewed by Andrew who travelled with Interislander on Aratere
"Good and Bad!"
We travelled from Picton and back from Wellington to Picton and enjoyed fabulous, smooth and very scenic afternoon passages. The staff were helpful the food freshly cooked. Our seats were comfortable and the loading was quick and professionally directed. However we were not impressed by Direct Ferries bookings as we were under the impression we had booked lounge access and feel that the booking process needs to be looked at by trading standards and we will be considering taking action, a cheap meal voucher is not the same thing and Direct Ferries did not answer my emails.
Reviewed by P & K Matthews who travelled with Interislander on Aratere
"Picton to Wellington"
Had a very good trip with interislander from Picton to Wellington. Much to our surprise direct Ferries had included a 30nzd voucher for food and beverage. So very happy with that. Thanks
Reviewed by Philip who travelled with Interislander on Aratere
"Lovely experience "
The views coming out of Picton are stunning and there are lots of places to go on deck to view the scenery. The lounge was comfortable and food and drink were of a very good standard. Staff were attentive, friendly and helpful.
Reviewed by Robert who travelled with Interislander on Aratere
"Travelling to and from South Island"
My wife and I travelled to South Island on the Kaitaki and back on the Aratere. Both journeys were excellent and the plus lounge well worth the extra cost. We would certainly use this service again.
Reviewed by Taylor who travelled with Interislander on Aratere
"Lazy Cruise to Picton"
After waiting more than 3hrs following a delayed sailing as Picton was 'closed' following a gas leak on a train we left at 4:05 PM. The voyage was glorious and the scenery breathtaking. We also enjoyed the plus lounge facilities with great customer service from the staff enjoying the free food and drink whilst sitting back in absolute comfort. First class trip all around 😃
Reviewed by Ian Lloyd who travelled with Interislander on Aratere
What an amazing trip. The staff were most helpful and happy from checking in to getting off the ferry. The trip itself was wonderful, beautiful, breathtakingly gorgeous. I am so pleased I deceived to use ferry rather than plane to get from one island to the other. The whole journey was wonderful. Thank you 💜
Reviewed by Felicity who travelled with Interislander on Aratere
"Good experience "
Thank you for the free vouchers you gave me, I really appreciate it, expecially lounge experience in the way back. It was alsom.
Reviewed by Mosè who travelled with Interislander on Aratere
Everything went smoothly, the food and lounge were great. Very enjoyed the trip. Better than air travel by miles
Reviewed by Alex who travelled with Interislander on Aratere