Valentine arrives in Wellington  

14 December 2021

The ferry Valentine arrived in Wellington today and will begin moving freight across Cook Strait as soon as the handover and familiarisation are complete, likely later this month, Interislander General Manager Walter Rushbrook says.

The ferry has been leased to maintain the vital link between the North and South islands while Kaiarahi is out of action.

The decision to lease Valentine came after Kaiarahi suffered a major gearbox failure, which is expected to leave it  out of service well into 2022 with vital spare parts needing to be manufactured overseas before repairs can be completed.

Having Valentine on the run will provide extra capacity and resilience at one of the busiest times of the year, Mr Rushbrook says.

“The freight-only ferry will free up space for passengers and their vehicles on the other ferries, ensuring New Zealanders can travel during the summer holiday season.

“It will also ensure that shelves can remain stocked as the country continues to deal with the impacts of Covid.”

“Kaiarahi’s gearbox failure highlights that our fleet is aging, and while we undertake a significant amount of maintenance on our vessels, just like an old car, they are more prone to breakdowns. The first of our new bespoke ferries is not due to arrive until 2025,” Mr Rushbrook says.

“Valentine will help mitigate the impact on freight movements across the Cook Strait, in the event of any further unexpected mechanical disruptions.”

It is being leased for an initial 12 months.

We are working closely with the Ministry of Health regarding the COVID procedures for when the crew arrives in NZ. Subject to final testing results, the Valentine’s crew will not need to undertake a further stay in managed isolation after arrival.

Additionally, the normal Maritime Border processes will apply.

The crew is made up of 20 overseas members from a ship delivery company and 12 Interislander staff, who are onboard to observe the ships operations and to familiarise themselves with the vessel. The last port the ship visited was Panama as she transited the Canal, 16 days ago. All crew, including the Interislander members are fully vaccinated.

 “We are pleased Valentine has arrived, and we are looking forward to her playing an important role for our business, and for New Zealand,” says Mr Rushbrook.

 Further information about Ministry of Health Procedures:

 The  protocols allow shore leave subject to authorisation by a Medical Officer of Health or health protection officer. To give this authorisation, the medical officer of health or health protection officer must be satisfied that:

  • everyone on board the ship has been in isolation or quarantine for at least 10 days (including time spent at sea); and
  • everyone on board meets the low-risk indicators (which includes everyone on board the ship returning a negative result from a COVID-19 test); and
  • no one on board the ship has, in the previous 10 days, experienced any symptoms that suggest the presence of COVID-19.