Survey company DNV has signed off interisland ferry Aratere as ready to sail, but it's not expected to make its first freight crossing until later in the week.
A propeller fell off the ferry during a crossing from Wellington to Picton last year and it has returned from being repaired in Singapore.
KiwiRail said Maritime New Zealand is completing inspections and audits before giving its signoff.
KiwiRail considered a trial sailing on Wednesday night, but has delayed this until Thursday to get all crew re-familiarised with the ferry. It planned to start freight sailings later this week.