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To experience both North and South Island during your trip to New Zealand, you’ll need to book a Cook Strait ferry crossing for your campervan.

Campervan bookings with Escape Rentals don’t include a ferry crossing, so customers are responsible for booking their own crossing across the Cook Strait.

The two operators for the Cook Strait ferry crossing are Bluebridge and Interislander.

This guide will give you everything you need to know to decide who you’ll travel with and anything else you need to plan and enjoy your ferry crossing.

November to March is Summer here in NZ, so campervan space on the ferries can be limited at this busy time of year. Try to book your crossing as far in advance as you can!

Interislander vs. Bluebridge Comparison

There isn’t much difference between these the Cook Strait ferry operators, but take a look at the variations in service to decide your preferred operator:

Sailing frequency42 sailings a week50 sailings a week
Terminal locationsWellington (North Island) and Picton (South Island)Wellington (North Island) and Picton (South Island)
Shuttle serviceFree shuttle bus between Wellington Railway Station and the terminalThere’s a complimentary shuttle bus from:

Picton: iSite Visitor Information Centre (The Foreshore)
Wellington: Oxley’s Bar & Kitchen (corner of Wellington Street and London Quay)
Onboard amenities– 500MB of free Wi-Fi
– Premium Lounge
– Family lounge
– Spacious bathrooms
– Sitting and relaxation areas
– Nurseries with changing tables
– Free Wi-Fi and movies
– Private cabins
– Kid-friendly outdoor areas
Food optionsA range of food and drink options depending on the ship, including a complimentary meal in the Premium LoungeGreat value food freshly prepared by onboard chefs
Premium loungesAvailable on all three ferries
Not specified (but spacious lounges available on both ships)
Cost for an Escape Rentals campervan (4.5-4.8m length)
Around $300 one way, depending on whether you choose the Saver, Flexible, or Refundable option.
Prepare for same-day and next-day bookings to be more expensive.
Around $300 one way, depending on whether you choose the Saver, Flexible, or Refundable option.
Prepare for same-day and next-day bookings to be more expensive.
Where to bookInterislander BookingBluebridge Booking

Travelling South from Wellington

The North Island to South Island ferry departs from Wellington:

  • The Interislander terminal is at Kaiwharawhara near Aotea Quay. Turn off the motorway at the bottom of Ngauranga Gorge to get there. Vehicle check-in closes one hour before departure; follow the pink signs and road markings.
  • The Bluebridge terminal is opposite Wellington Railway Station, at 50 Waterloo Quay. Take the Aotea Quay exit off the motorway, follow it around past Sky Stadium on the right, and drive a further kilometre until you reach the terminal on the left.

There are free or cheap camping spots nearby, such as Evans Bay Marina Carpark, that you may be able to use.

For the latest information on the weather, delays, and cancellations, check the MetService website and the website of your chosen ferry operator.

Travelling North from Picton

The ferry from South Island to North Island departs from Picton:

  • The Interislander terminal has its vehicle check-in at Lagoon Road. To reach it after entering Picton, turn left into Kent Street. Follow the pink signs and road markings for vehicle check-in, arriving at least an hour before departure.
  • The Bluebridge terminal is also at Lagoon Road. If heading north towards the town, turn left from State Highway 1 at Kent Street before travelling less than a kilometre to reach the roundabout. The Bluebridge terminal will be ahead on your left.

For free or cheap camping nearby, look to such places as Collins Memorial Reserve or Whatamango Bay. The Interislander and Bluebridge websites have “service alerts” pages that provide the latest information before your ferry crossing.

Need Help Booking Your Cook Strait Ferry Crossing? Ask Our Friendly Team

Contact Escape Rentals for guidance on booking your ferry trip between the North and South Islands.


We’ve answered some of the questions that you might be especially likely to ask about ferry crossings in your campervan:

How long is the ferry ride from North to South Island, New Zealand?

The ferry from North to South Island, New Zealand, takes around 3.5 hours, depending on the weather.

How long is the Interislander ferry?

A Cook Strait ferry crossing with Interislander is 96 kilometres (52 nautical miles), with a three-and-a-half-hour journey.

Are there any size restrictions for campervans on the ferry?

Interislander advises those taking a vehicle with them on their ferry to South Island or North Island to specify the type of vehicle and its length at the time of booking. This is to ensure there is enough room on the ferry for everyone, which is another good reason to book in advance.

Similarly, when booking with Bluebridge, you must provide details about your campervan if you know this information when booking your ferry crossing.

Bluebridge states that at check-in, it may reassess a vehicle based on its type, size, length, or weight and change the applicable fare accordingly. You may need to pay an additional fare if the information you provided needs to be corrected.

Do I need to make a reservation for my campervan on the ferry in advance?

Regardless of which North to South Island ferry you use, you should book in advance from November to March. After all, this is the summer in NZ – a hectic time for ferry crossings!

At other times, relatively late bookings may be possible, but you might not be able to sail at your preferred time.

Are there facilities available for campervans on the ferry?

Ferry crossings in your campervan give you access to the same amenities that users of other vehicles (and on-foot passengers) enjoy, including lounge areas, eateries, and more.

What safety measures are in place for campervans during the ferry crossing?

Regardless of the operator you use for your Cook Strait ferry crossing, you can expect certain rules to be in place to ensure safety.

For example, both operators require gas bottles to be turned off before boarding.

Can I stay in my campervan during the ferry crossing?

Those bringing a campervan on a New Zealand ferry crossing with Bluebridge and Interislander must leave their vehicle and remain within the passenger areas for the duration of the sailing.

What happens if there are adverse weather conditions during the ferry crossing?

Poor weather or a choppy Cook Strait swell can mean the ferry crossing takes longer. The ferry may take a slightly different route to ensure a smooth crossing.

Can I access my belongings inside the campervan during the crossing?

During the crossing of a Bluebridge and Interislander ferry to South Island or North Island, the vehicle decks will be locked, so you will not be able to access your campervan until the ship arrives at its destination.

Are there restrictions on cooking or using appliances inside the campervan during the crossing?

A North Island to South Island ferry with Bluebridge and Interislander will not enable you to access your campervan during the crossing itself. So, you cannot cook or use appliances on your vehicle during the journey.