InterCity + Interislander
There are 2 ways to travel between the North & South Islands of New Zealand. The obvious one is via a flight. But there is one more way which is extremely scenic. We went for the beautiful route though. The route was Christchurch – Picton – Wellington by InterCity bus & Interislander ferry.
Our journey started at Christchurch at 7 AM. We woke up quite early & then reached Lichfield Street. What we loved the most about InterCity are their drivers. They welcome everyone with a big smile, help passengers with their bags & let everyone begin their day on a happy note.
After placing our bags on the bus, we got inside. We were excited about our first InterCity bus ride!
Christchurch to Picton
This bus journey was 6 hours long. Initially, we thought it will be too tiresome, but it was not. We left Christchurch on time. We had one stop in between which was a welcome change. The bus journey was very comfortable & peaceful. We reached Picton at sharp 12:55 PM.
Picton – Wellington
Once we got down at the Picton Ferry Terminal, we reached Interislander’s counter. The terminal looked like an airport for sure. We reached the counter, got our boarding passes & Plus Lounge access. We checked-in our bags & went to the terminal lounge. There was a cafe, toilets & lots of space for sitting.
Our Interislander’s ferry was called Kaitaki. It was HUGE! Later, we came to know that it transports cars, trucks & buses as well. It was simply mind-blowing! Such a huge ferry & the process was so simple. We got inside & located the Plus Lounge because that was the highlight of the Interislander.
Interislander’s Plus Lounge
The Plus Lounge on Interislander is beautiful. You can get Plus Lounge access by paying extra while booking the ticket itself. Interislander allows a limited number of people to have Plus Lounge access so it is usually on the first come first serve basis. If you are getting it, just get it. You won’t regret it.
But what are the advantages of having a Plus Lounge access, right? The amount that you pay for Plus Lounge is quite small when you compare it with its benefits.
1. Unlimited food
The biggest advantage of foodies will be free unlimited food. The Plus Lounge access gets you a wide range of food throughout the journey. The menu was quite elaborate. Cheeses, crackers, hot beverages, vegetarian, vegan, meat & seafood dishes were on the buffet. It was not only about the number of items but also about the quality. The food quality was so good! It was very tasty. In fact, when I asked for an egg-free option of a vegetarian dish, the staff made the same dish from scratch for me. For me, this was definitely the most important advantage of having the Plus Lounge access on Interislander.
The ‘unlimited’ tag is not just for food but also for beverages – Soft & hard, hot & cold. They had many wine & beer options available at the counter (all included in the plus lounge access). If you are not into alcoholic drinks (like me), they also had a wide range of soft beverages & juices. Not in a mood for cold drinks, get your cappuccino or an americano. Everything was available in that lovely lounge.
2. Peaceful environment
When we took this journey in September, the number of tourists on board were quite less due to the off-season. During the tourist season, it is important to get your peace & space. Plus Lounge offers that. Since they allow only a limited number of people, it means that everyone with the Plus Lounge access gets to sit & relax.
The sofas were quite comfortable. When we were there, we saw some passengers sleeping because there were hardly people on board. Whether you want to rest, or work, or simply listen to music, the Plus Lounge offers that peace. Combine this peace with friendly staff & you get the much-needed comfort.
3. Private WiFi
The general WiFi is very good. The private WiFi of the Plus Lounge is even better. It is more helpful when there are many passengers on board because then the speed of the general WiFi might get slow, but the private WiFi is going to work at the same speed.
Since only a few people will have access, it is ensured that you will be connected with the world almost throughout the journey. There will be some places where the internet wouldn’t work at all but that’s fine because it is literally the middle of the ocean.
4. Perfect Viewing Gallery
There are many viewing decks on Interislander, but the one outside the Plus Lounge is the best. After visiting almost all the decks, I wanted to sit somewhere & enjoy the view. Our table at the Plus Lounge offered stunning views. It felt amazing looking at the NZ landscapes while sipping on a drink listening to a piece of melodious piano music.
Cafes, Viewing Decks, Theatre
Interislander is full of amenities. Even if you don’t buy the Plus Lounge access, there are many things to do onboard. There is a cafe, a restaurant & a sports bar at the same level. All of them have a different menu & prices are very reasonable. What I really loved about the Interislander is that they don’t try to rip you off by charging a high price on anything. Everything is reasonable & top quality.
There are many viewing decks available on different levels. You want to see the left side of the Interislander, go to that viewing deck. Right? Well, go on the right side. You want to stand & see the ocean, you are more than welcome to do that. You want to sit & enjoy the breeze while sipping on your beer? There’s a space dedicated to that as well. The different viewing decks offer different views & they all are worth exploring. My favorite one would be the deck outside the Plus Lounge.
Apart from eating & viewing, there are other amenities as well. There is a cinema onboard where they put the latest movies on. When we were traveling, there was Hobbs & Shaw running. The ticket cost just $10. On the same level, there was a dedicated area for children as well. The attendant handling the cinema & children’s area was really friendly. We chatted about Interislander for about 15 minutes.
Basically, once you are onboard Interislander, the time will fly. 3 hours are definitely not enough to explore Kaitaki entirely. We simply loved all the facilities that Interislander offered onboard. It’s the bang for your buck.
New Zealand is, undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Its natural beauty & serene landscapes are trademarks of New Zealand. Interislander offers an opportunity to see the same natural beauty from the ocean. On this 3 hours long journey, we stood at the galleries for at least 2 hours and we still didn’t enough of it.
Thanks to all the viewing decks on board, it never feels too crowded. Everyone gets their own space & comfort which is very important when you are looking to just explore the country at ease.
Arrival Process & Free Transfer
Once we arrived at the port of Wellington, the staff of Interislander guided us through the exit. After we got out, we waited at the baggage belt where our bags arrived in less than 15 minutes. It was just like an airport but much quicker & & easier.
The port of Wellington is not in the city center, so transportation is required. Because we had Interislander’s ticket, we got a free transfer from the port to the Wellington railway station. The coach was very useful as it started directly from the exit gate of the port & got us in the center. It also saved us a few dollars.
Interislander is truly an amazing way to travel between both islands of New Zealand. It is scenic, saves money & offers some of the most stunning landscapes along the way.
You can get more information about Interislander on The Great Journeys Of New Zealand’s website.
Book your Interislander journey directly from the official website.
Photos: Awara Diaries