New Zealand's newest Ferry delivers new opportunities to visit Wellington

Travel News Asia 15 September 2005

New Zealands capital city, Wellington, will be much more accessible to fly-drive tourists this summer, with the introduction of a huge new passenger ferry between the countrys North and South islands.

Kaitaki, has been introduced by ferry operator Interislander to help meet strong demand for travel between Wellington and the South Island port of Picton, and to supplement the capacity already provided by the passenger and vehicle ferries Aratere and Arahura.

Until now, the existing Interislander fleet has not provided enough capacity to accommodate the peak summer demand for vehicle and passenger movements between the islands.

That capacity squeeze has now eased significantly with the arrival of the 22,365 tonne Kaitaki, which can carry 1,600 passengers and 600 cars, compared with 1,000 passengers and 200 cars on the vessel it replaces, the high-speed Lynx catamaran.

Kaitakis extra capacity will make inter-island travel much more accessible during the peak period from November to March, and we welcome this very positive development, said Chris Lamers, General Manager Marketing for Positively Wellington Tourism.

For many years, a shortage of high season ferry capacity has been an impediment to inter-island travel, particularly the international fly-drive market, which is strong in the summer months, said Mr Lamers.

The increased capacity offered by Kaitaki now delivers a significant new opportunity for Wellington to attract visitors who might otherwise remain on the South Island. It also enables travellers to enjoy a much broader experience of New Zealand, combining the very different attractions offered by both islands, he said.

The journey aboard the ferry Kaitaki also offers a range of attractions to passengers during the three-hour inter-island crossing, with on-board facilities including a large open-plan food court, coffee kiosks, a two-level playground for children, a large stage area for band performances, and, by the end of this year, two cinemas.

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