Interislander ferries to Nelson for annual maintenance

KiwiRail’s Interislander ferry Kaiarahi heads across to Nelson at the end of this week, marking the start of an annual maintenance and inspection programme for all three ferries.

KiwiRail General Manager Interislander Operations, Mark Thompson, says Kaiarahi will be in Nelson for in-water maintenance before sailing to Sydney for dry-docking.

“This year all three ferries – Kaiarahi, Aratere and Kaitaki - will undergo scheduled maintenance and inspections from mid-May until mid-August.

“Once the Kaiarahi returns into service the Aratere will then head to Nelson and onto Sydney.  And finally, when Aratere returns, Kaitaki will then undertake survey and maintenance here in Wellington.

“We always carry out this critical work over the quieter winter months, so we minimise disruption to our freight and passenger customers. While each ferry is out of service, timetables will be adjusted so we continue to run services in the most important timeslots for our customers,” Mr Thompson says.

“For the six-week period that Aratere is away we will provide a road bridging operation, using road trailers and intermodal equipment to ensure uninterrupted transport of rail freight between islands.”

Kaiarahi will undergo maintenance including painting and steelworks, and inspections in Nelson.

“We chose Nelson for the in-water part of the programme because it has a good marine engineering resources and favourable weather at this time of year,” Mr Thompson says.

While in Sydney work will also be done to Kaiarahi and Aratere to make them more fuel efficient.

“Both ferries will undergo annual, five-year and 20-year surveys – the marine equivalent of warrants of fitness – on critical equipment and components.  These are carried out by international surveyors.”