The Cook Strait Ferry is an inevitable part of visiting New Zealand if you choose to go to both islands (and don’t have lots of extra cash for flying). There are two choices: Bluebridge and Interislander. Price wise, both are about the same, but it depends on when you’re travelling – Bluebridge prices stay the same throughout the year and Interislander prices go up and down depending on the time of the year.
Besides pure, beautiful, open ocean, the trip between the two islands encompasses the almost entirely impassable Cook Strait, a narrow stretch of ocean bombarded by cliffs on either side. The Cook Strait is extremely dangerous, but also very cool to pass through (especially now that the ferries have it down to a science). The ferry ride lasts about 3-4 hours, with the trip through the Strait lasting around an hour, sometimes moving slower. On our ride down, the weather was absolutely fantastic, and we stood outside as we went through the Strait and near the top of the Marlborough Sounds. The piercingly blue water and open air makes you appreciate being in New Zealand.
As for the ferry choices, on the way down we chose the Interislander and on the way back, Bluebridge. We found out right before leaving from a couple in Martinborough that the Interislander was the “fancy” ferry. Turns out the husband actually worked for Bluebridge, the other ferry option, so I’d say they were a bit biased. But biased or not, they were right. The interior of the Interislander and the quality of food were far superior to the Bluebridge ferry. However, the upside of Bluebridge was how comfortable the overall feel of the ferry was, especially the seats. Also, they showed free movies, whereas the Interislander only offered a movie at a cost. Overall, both ferries are good options – just got for the cheapest price! – Jennifer