23 Nov 2023

Bad weather expected to ruin between-island travel over the weekend

10:23 am on 23 November 2023
The Bluebridge's Connemara and Interislander's Kaiarahi in Picton.

The Bluebridge's Connemara and Interislander's Kaiārahi in Picton. Photo: RNZ / Samantha Gee

Passengers trying to travel the seas between the North and South Islands may have their hopes dashed once again, with poor weather expected in the Cook Strait.

Interislander on Wednesday said it was on track to fix a one-metre hole in the hull of the Kaiārahi by Thursday night, almost two weeks after it was damaged during berthing. The accident happened just days after another Cook Strait ferry - Bluebridge's Connemara - hit a wharf while leaving Wellington.

However, the state-owned company said conditions in the Cook Strait were forecast to deteriorate from midday Friday, with strong southerlies and large swells predicted to last until Saturday. It warned passengers about seasickness and possible cancellations.

"We are monitoring the situation closely and will update this service alert, and advise customers directly, if sailings are impacted during this time," a statement on the Interislander website said.

"If you are worried about seasickness, we recommend that you sit towards the rear of the ship, rather than the bow (front) which experiences the most movement. Don't sail on an empty stomach, and consider sipping ginger ale. You may also want to try seasickness pills."

The company's general manager of operations Duncan Roy said repairs to Kaiārahi were progressing well, following "ultrasonic weld-testing" on Wednesday.

The ship had been moved from the dock during repairs on a few occasions, Roy said, to make room for other vessels, including cruise ships - but he said this was normal maritime practice in a busy port.

The company did not know how many passengers had been affected by the cancellations, as customers could self-manage bookings online.

"We have offered alternative sailings to all customers booked to travel on Kaiārahi and have added additional sailings of our other ships to provide options to meet demand."

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