There are a couple of different ways to get to the South Island from Wellington. We're the gateway to the South Island and most tourists coming here for a few days also want to find out about what transport they should use to get to the other island. Obviously which transport they use depends on several factors, like do they have a car? A plane isn't going to be your best option in this situation. ;-)
Because I work at Nomads Capital, I'm always being asked about the planes and the ferries from Wellington to the South Island...
I seem to find a new reason to love Wellington every day. And to be fair, there are a lot of reasons to love it; the cafes and bars, the arts, the stunning scenery, the wildlife and the incredibly friendly people that inhabit it to name but a few. With each day I find myself finding a different, shall we say, not so 'normal' reason, and today's reason is transport. Yes, I have said it... Living in Wellington under the flight path of Wellington airport and within view of the ferries sailing the Cook Strait, I have become an outright transport spotting geek.
Coming from Europe, living in New Zealand can occasionally feel a bit isolated, we are underneath the bottom of the world and the nearest country is at least a 4 hour flight away so it's comforting to know that there is still a whole world out there and, lets face it the Air New Zealand planes are attractive enough to stare at every day!
But... the planes are nothing when you experience the ferries. The Interislander and Bluebridge ferries cross the Cook Strait four times a day. The journey takes just over three hours (or sometimes a lot longer in bad weather). The ferry crossing is an experience in itself, when you have good weather it is thoroughly enjoyable. They glide gracefully on the water and it is not uncommon for pods of dolphins to follow the ferry. As soon as the South Island is in sight the scenery is fantastic. Cruising around the Queen Charlotte Sounds is breathtaking and peaceful. On the other side of the Cook Strait, Picton awaits you.
With a population of around 3000, Picton is a quaint little town in the Marlborough wine region. From here you can explore the Queen Charlotte track, head deeper into the wine region or simply relax and enjoy looking at all the posh boats in the harbour.
Bus companies wait to meet the first ferry to take excited travelers to pretty much anywhere in the South Island. If you don't have time to visit the South Island, then The Interislander also do an awesome day trip to explore the wine region, where you can sample some great wines and return back to Wellington in time for bed.
Whether you're a transport spotting geek like me or not, the journey to the South Island by plane or ferry offers you spectacular views. Have a chat with the Mad Travel Shop staff at Nomads Capital for details on ferry tickets and departure times.