The next morning we woke up bright and early, made ourselves some breakfast (otherwise known as Christmas Dinner…) and then jumped in the car to catch our 8AM ferry. We ended up getting lost on the way to the ferry terminal because I directed us to the freeway on accident (or the closest thing you can get to a freeway in New Zealand) so we had to make a loop around and finally get back to the rental car return area. Things to note about renting a car in New Zealand, if you plan on taking a car from the north island to the south island and not return back to the north island, you return the car at the ferry terminal and rent a new car on the south island (it’s about 1000 NZD if you leave your car on the south island). We arrived at the rental car area, and squeeze through the lanes to eventually park at the end of the Hertz row. It was terrifying because the lanes are all smaller than in the States and when you’re driving a car you don’t know, it makes for an experience trying to get through a parking lot of cars squeezed into every nook and cranny you can see.
We finally parked the car and walked into the terminal. Since the ride is about 3 hours long and it’s almost like taking a short cruise, you have to check your luggage before you can board the boat. We checked our bags and then made our way onto our small cruise ship to get ready to go to the south island. The Interislander has all the amenities you could want on a 3 hour boat ride. There’s a movie theater, multiple restaurants, a few cafes, lots of areas to just sit and relax plus a sun deck so you can watch the smaller islands go by.
We settled down in the cafe with some coffee and our snacks and began our journey to the south island. Throughout the 3 hour journey, we got to meet some people, get some great people watching done, snack, color, nap and catch up on some music videos.
As we pulled into the Picton, Candice and I run upstairs to the top deck so we could see the islands pass.
After we docked, you have to wait for the cars to unload before you can walk off the actual boat. It’s kind of terrifying because there are so many people who are on the boat and you just sit and watch them go by. It takes about 45 minutes for each car floor to get to the point where the walk-on passengers can begin to de-board.
After finally getting off the boat, we went to the baggage carousel and then picked up our new car to begin our journey to Christchurch.
Things to note about traveling on this type of transportation during the holiday season in New Zealand:
- Make sure you book your ferry tickets earlier rather than later. We booked ours the day we landed in New Zealand and only had one option to catch the ferry to the south island. If we had booked our tickets earlier, we could have had multiple options which would have let us hang out in Wellington.
- Be prepared with entertainment. It’s a long ferry ride and they do have a movie theater but be prepared with your own entertainment if you decide not to go to the movies
- Bring snacks. The coffee shop and restaurants get packed so it’s necessary to bring your own food if you get hungry. I am always hungry so it was necessary to make sure we had food readily available. It took half an hour just to get a cup of coffee.
- Be prepared to get there early if you can to scope out where you want to sit. Some of the seats are not the most comfortable so be prepared.