Travelling with your family on the Interislander

When it comes to travelling with family, there’s heaps of things to consider. Ease, comfort, cost and entertainment, to name just a few. If you’re not into airport queues the Interislander is a great way to travel.

1050x920Interislander Family Timmy and Fritha RH7846 copy

There’s plenty of room on our three spacious ferries, with stacks of things to do for Baby Ben, Grandma Gertrude and everyone in between. From spotting dolphins in the Marlborough Sounds, to catching a movie, through to play zones for the kids, travelling on the Interislander makes it feel like the holiday has started as soon as you step aboard. Here’s a guide to all the activities you and your crew can look forward to.  

Family activities aboard the Interislander Ferry

With heaps of great family activities on the Interislander, there’s enough to keep your family busy for every minute of the 92 kilometre journey. If relaxing’s on the menu, why not grab some popcorn, put your feet up and take the family to a new release at our on board cinema? Or for something a bit more rousing, battle it out on out the selection of video games on our Aratere or Kaitaki ferries.

If you’re travelling during the school holidays, you might be lucky enough to catch one of the clowns or magicians who perform throughout the break. These entertainers will captivate kids with their magical performances, giving parents some precious time to themselves. Of course, if grown-ups want to join in on the fun, that’s allowed too. We won’t tell anyone. Promise.

There are also many spots on the Interislander where you can take some time out to simply chill and watch TV. Turn on Disney channel for the kids at the family lounge, or head to the on board bar and watch SKY Sports – whatever you feel like, it’s ready and waiting on the Interislander.

Spaces and activities for young children and babies on the ferry

Childrens play area with yellow slide on the Atatere

Travelling with young children or babies? Check out our family zones and nurseries. Families travelling aboard the Kaitaki can head to the Under 10s area and find something to entertain all young sailors. Babies can crawl free in the baby play space, while older children can let off some steam on the huge soft climbing frame. Meanwhile, parents and caregivers can enjoy a snack or drink from the café, conveniently located on a mezzanine level above the play area.

If your journey is on the Aratere ferry you’ll be able to set up camp in the Family Lounge, complete with a playground for small children and space for babies to roam. And the Kaiarahi boasts a Children’s TV lounge dedicated to playing Disney channel, as well as a blackboard and tables to play games on.

The journey across the Cook Strait takes a little over three hours. So if you’re travelling with a baby, chances are they’ll need to nap, feed, be changed – if not all of the above. The good news is each ferry has at least one nursery, where you’ll find two cots, a wash basin and changing facilities.

Viewing decks and what to look for with the family

Of course, one of the best activities you can do on the Interislander doesn’t happen on board. The Cook Strait is home to many species of wildlife, including dolphins, penguins, seals, albatross and more. And there’s not many better ways of seeing them than getting out on our viewing decks.

There are multiple viewing areas on all three of the Interislander ferries, including indoor ones for the chillier months.

Family famished? We’ve got you sorted

Child eating fish and chips kids meal on Interislander

All these activities certainly build up an appetite. Plus, with ferries departing at different times throughout the day, we know there will be tummies to fill over breakfast, lunch and dinner time. That’s why all three of our ferries have fabulous on board eateries, where you can find everything from full three-course meals, to a sneaky little something to tie you and the kids over.

For something small, head to Hector’s Café. Located near the family zones on both the Kaitaki and Aratere, it’s the place to go for tea, coffee and a light snack. It’s got a great selection of salads, or if you feel like treating yourself, grab yourself a pie or a yummy piece of cake – we won’t judge one bit.

If you’re looking for something a little more substantial, look no further than the Ocean View eatery, found on both the Kaiarahi and Kaitaki ferries. It's extensive menu has something for everyone, including a kid’s meal that comes served in a fun ship shaped box! Meanwhile, on board the Aratere you can fill up at the food court. With its seaside diner atmosphere and renowned kids’ Fish and Chips meal, you’ll have some seriously satisfied little ones. And for you, the full cooked breakfast is an absolute winner. 

And lastly, for a relaxing drink (or two – you’re on holiday!) on the Interislander, be sure to stop in at the bar for a delicious New Zealand wine or beer. The Local Heroes bar can be found on Deck 7 of the Kaiarahi or Deck 8 of the Kaitaki, while the Aratere Bar can be found on Deck 4 of the Aratere ferry.

What should you bring? 

If your family brought a car or van on the Interislander, you’ll need to leave your vehicle for the whole journey. So it’s a good idea to pack some essentials in a daypack for your group, as you won’t be able to return to the car again until the end of the journey. Here are some good items to remember to bring with you:

  • Warm clothing: The temperature can change quickly while crossing the Cook Strait, so bring warm, comfortable clothes just in case.
  • Hats and sunscreen: The New Zealand sun can be very strong, so bring a hat and sunscreen to protect your skin while you sightsee on deck.
  • Sunglasses: It may be cloudy when you arrive on the ferry, but pack your sunglasses just in case you need them.
  • Charging cables: You’ll find power outlets on board, so bring your charging cables to keep batteries topped up.
  • Medicines and sea sickness remedies: If you need medication, please bring them with you in your day pack. Although we do sell sea sickness tablets on board, it’s worth researching which remedy will work best for you before we leave.
  • Books, games and activities: The journey across the Cook Strait is the perfect time to read a few chapters or play a hand of cards
  • Snacks: While we have lots of tasty treats on board, you can bring your own snacks and drinks as well.

Bring your own activities for the journey

While there’s plenty do on the Interislander, don’t forget you can also bring your own activities. With a wide range of seating and tables available — particularly in our Family Lounges — why not spread out and play games, read or do a crossword to pass the time. If you’ve brought tablets or phones to use, be sure to bring your charger with you and keep the battery charged thanks to the on board power outlets. Wi-Fi is available on all our ferries, though if you plan on watching films or TV shows on the Interislander, it’s worth pre-loading them before you come on board.

Book your summer ferry sailing

If you’re planning a ferry trip between Wellington and Picton with your family, the Cook Strait Interislander ferry is so much more than a way to get from A to B. Check out our promotions for summer savings, family fares and more.

Travel as family snippet

Travelling with kids

Whether a toddler or a teenager, there's plenty on board to keep your kids entertained!
Find out more
ECO Kids snippet 730x540

Great Day Out in Picton

Departing Wellington all year round, this great family day out in Picton provides a memorable adventure for youngsters and is a great alternative to another day out in Wellington!
Find out more