Campervan hire in New Zealand is great way to explore the country, but contrary to popular belief, there is no bridge connecting the North and South Islands (or Australia, for that matter!). So if you intend to travel across both islands, you’ll need to consider taking your campervan on the New Zealand ferry from Wellington to Picton (or vice versa).
Lots of people are concerned about the cost of taking a campervan or motorhome on the ferry. Many ask if they can drop their camper van off on one side and then pick up another vehicle on the other side. The truth is that very few of the campervan rental companies in New Zealand have branches in Wellington and Picton. Some have neither, or some have only Wellington, so your options are limited.
Even if both branches exist, often the Wellington branch is at least 30-45 minutes away from the ferry terminal, making it a bit of a hassle to return the vehicle and then make your way to the ferry in time. You would have to pack up your belongings from one campervan, check it back in, make your way to the ferry, cross the Cook Strait, make your way to the new branch, check out a new campervan and set up the campervan again with your belongings. So of course there are pros and cons for both options, but the ease and convenience of taking your campervan or motorhome onboard the ferry just might outweigh the cost.
There are a few ferry operators but Interislander is the most popular, with 5 services a day (on average) between Wellington on the North Island and Picton on the South Island. The ferry takes you across the Cook Strait and the 92 kilometre journey takes about 3 hours. Interislander’s 3 different ships (Kaitaki, Aratere and Arahura) carry passengers, cars, motorhomes and pets.
The ferry journey starts with your booking. You pay for each passenger (adult and child) and your campervan. The cost of the campervan is determined by its length, so the longer the campervan, the more it costs. Contact us today if you would like a quote for your ferry crossing. You have to nominate a day and time to cross, but you can make changes depending on the type of fare you have purchased.
You need to be checked in with your campervan at least one hour prior to the ferry’s departure. Check-in involves driving around to the vehicle check-in area and providing your reservation number at the gate. You will then be directed to a vehicle parking area where you line up with the rest of the vehicles. At boarding time, you will then drive your campervan into the ferry’s vehicle holding bay. This is where you leave your campervan for the duration of the trip. Once parked, remember to engage your handbrake, turn off any LPG bottles, ensure all loose items in your camper are safe and secured and then lock your campervan. You will then be directed up to the passenger lounge. You will not have access to your campervan until it is time to disembark.
If you are travelling in a campervan with your dog, you have two options. Firstly, your dog can be placed in a kennel for an additional charge of $15 per kennel. The kennels are located on the vehicle deck of Kaitaki, and on the rail decks of Aratere and Arahura. You are responsible for placing your dog in the kennels. These are limited in number and therefore it is necessary to book early. Please bring a blanket to make your dog more comfortable on the steel kennel floor. Or your second option is to leave your dog in the campervan at no additional charge. Your pet must remain in the vehicle throughout the journey, with fresh water available to them.
Once in the passenger lounge, you can settle in for the 3 hour journey. The ships offer comfortable seating, food and beverages for purchase, as well as newspapers, gifts and postcards from the onboard shops. Time passes pretty quickly and before you know it, you have arrived on the other side. All vehicle owners will be requested to make their way back down to the vehicle bay in preparation for docking. You will then be directed to drive off the ferry (normally no reversing is required) and from there, you are free to continue on your way. You don’t have to collect your baggage, fight the crowds or organise another campervan hire. The rest of New Zealand is yours to explore!