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KiwiRail’s Interislander ferry service is an extension of State Highway 1 and the Main Trunk Line across Cook Strait, linking road and rail networks between New Zealand’s North and South islands.

One of the world's most beautiful ferry journeys, it is also a popular tourism service.

We currently  operate a three-ship fleet – Kaiarahi,  Kaitaki  and the rail-enabled Aratere  - that cross the strait a combined total of 4000 times a year.

Kaitaki (meaning Challenger) can carry up to 1400 passengers, while Aratere (Quickpath) has capacity for 600 and Kaiarahi (Leader/Guardian) 550.

Between them they transport nearly 800,000 passengers and 250,000 cars a year.

More information on Interislander, including booking tickets, is available here.

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The Inter-island Resilience Connection project (iReX)

The ferries in the Interislander fleet are nearing the end of their 30-year working lives. KiwiRail is replacing its existing three Interislander ferries with two new rail-enabled and more environmentally friendly ferries.

The new ferries will come into operation in 2026, to allow for a smooth transition for our customers and crews.

Terminal infrastructure in Wellington and Waitohi Picton is also in need of substantial upgrades to bring it up to modern safety standards and to be ready for the new ferries.

This project represents a transformational investment in critical infrastructure that also provides an iconic New Zealand experience. This once-in-a-generation investment is expected to generate significant tourism, economic and environmental benefits for the whole of New Zealand.

New ferries

At 220m long, the new ferries will be significantly larger that our current vessels and be able to transport more people, cars and freight. The sister ships will be able to take both rail and truck freight.

The new ferries are being designed to contribute to meeting KiwiRail’s carbon emission reduction targets of 30% by 2030 and carbon neutral by 2050.

Currently Interislander contributes 40% of the total KiwiRail carbon emission 2012 baseline. These ships will meet Interislander carbon emissions reduction targets for 2030 from the time they enter into service and will significantly contribute to the overall KiwiRail reduction targets.

New terminals

KiwiRail’s iReX project has triggered an exciting redevelopment of the Interislander ferry precincts in Waitohi Picton and Kaiwharawhara, Wellington.

We are committed to working together with local community, our project partners and Mana Whenua at every stage of the project.

Find out more

For more information and updates on the progress of new ferries visit the iReX website.

Check out the Waitohi Picton Ferry Precinct Redevelopment page and the Kaiwharawhara Wellington Ferry Precinct Redevelopment page.

You can also sign up to the iReX newsletter here to stay informed on the project.