Cook Straight Crossing, New Zealand: Interislander vs. Bluebridge

While traveling the North and South Islands of New Zealand you want to take the ferry across the Cook Straight.  When crossing you have two companies to choose from; the Interislander and the Bluebridge. Both services can take you as a passenger with or without your car.  The crossing  is fun and I consider it essential to a New Zealand adventure.  The ferry is a testament Kiwi ingenuity!  It’s also scenic and fun as you spend 3 hours at sea.

Interislander vs. Bluebridge

Q: Which should I take?

A: Interislander, No doubt about it.

Tips for crossing:

  • Prepare to get a little seasick
  • Put the emergency break on in your car
  • Turn you car alarm off
  • Enjoy the outdoor deck, you’ll cross some stunning scenery
  • Food and drink aren’t more expensive than normal New Zealand prices.
  • There isn’t a lot of preparation needed.  The ferry landing is easy to find in Wellington and Picton.  Driving on is easy.

On both services you drive your vehicle onto the boat yourself.  Here’s a video of us boarding in Wellington and disembarking in Picton!

I’ll show some pictures and brief descriptions of the Bluebridge:

The cabin of the Bluebridge is very functional.  You can order food and have it delivered to you while you sit indoors and watch the shores of Wellington and the North end of the South Island pass by.

The Bluebridge ship is smaller and simpler than it’s competition.  For this reason, it is slightly quicker at crossing the straight…. but only a few minutes faster.  It’s not a significantly faster experience.

The bluebridge cabin is comfortable and simple.  If you require a private room, they offer that.  I don’t really know why someone would want a private room on a 3 hour trip though .

There is seating on the blue bridge outdoor deck.  You can also walk around on the outer deck while crossing.

They don’t have sky (New Zealand’s television service) so there is no television while on board.  This wasn’t cool for us because we missed two Rugby World Cup matches while crossing the straight.  They do show movies but there is only one option played on all the screens.  If they play a movie your not interested in, tough luck.

Anyways, the Interislander is without a doubt the one that I recommend.

Here is why:

This boat has heaps of different cabins for whatever your different interests are.

It’s like a playground for kids and adults!  They have so much cool stuff to do!

They have a cafe

Their outdoor deck is great for watching the progress of the crossing.

At the back there is a great glass enclosed observatory if (and when) it gets too cold to be outside.

There is a playground and a cafe for the parents and their kids.  It’s really nice because it is on the bottom deck so all the kids are nice and busy away from the cafe and the pub.  The playground is in the bowls of the ship!  It’s perfect, you can’t even hear the little buggers.

Yeah, they have an awesome pub.  The drinks are about as expensive as any other pub in New Zealand.  There was even a really entertaining live band playing.

There is lots of seating in the pub.

So that’s it folks.  The showdown of the Interislander and the Bluebridge goes to the Interislander.

Do you have any experience crossing the Cook Straight?  Tell me about it with a comment below.


4 Replies to “Cook Straight Crossing, New Zealand: Interislander vs. Bluebridge”

  1. I’ve traveled with Interislander so many times I started to take it for granted. Out of interested one time, I decided to go with Bluebridge. Never again. To me it was like travelling on a navy boat instead of a passenger ferry. You think they’d have a little bit more style.

  2. I’ve traveled on both and if you’re anything like me, just use whichever one has the cheapest fare when you book.
    For seasickness, take sealegs or similar medicine before you depart.
    Interislander may be slightly more comfortable, but if you’re on a budget it’s up to you if it’s worth it.

  3. Ian
    I hope this blog is still alive.
    Do you have an opinion on being a walk on passenger vs. taking the car on this ferry ride?
    Which is the most time- efficient? I will be renting a car. Some firms have you take the car across. Others have you dropping the car on one side and picking up another car on the other side. Is the rental car drop-off zone near the ferry? Is there a shuttle? Thx Frank

    1. I’d say they both require the same amount of time. You can drive your car on and drive your car off.

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