Scott Hammond / Stuff
The Interislander and Bluebridge ferries are seeing high demand for travelers with vehicles. (File photo)
Travelers hoping to bring their vehicles north are out of luck, with the Interislander and Bluebridge ferries solidly booked until Easter, April 15-18.
Wellington resident Iain MacLeod is trapped in the South Island after a month-long trip as a couple with his wife.
After trying to book a return ferry for weeks, the couple are now considering leaving their car in Picton and heading back to Wellington.
MacLeod said they had great weather in central Otago and even rode the Routeburn Track. “We do all the touristy things they tell you to do.”
He was disappointed with the low capacity of the ferries for travelers by car. “I’ve never seen him so badly. We just keep watching the website and waiting for something to open.
Shipping fumes from the Interislander ferry blowing over the Picton foreshore in March 2021.
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He wondered why ferries were unable to increase capacity or open additional crossings to help people get home.
Both ferry companies had sent a ferry for maintenance and were facing high demand for cargo and passengers.
A banner on Bluebridge’s website read: “Please note that the Straitsman is undergoing regular maintenance from April 17 to May 10. Availability on other sailings is limited during this time.”
On Bluebridge, only one northbound navigation is available for passengers with cars before May 10.
Inter-island tickets with vehicle are sold until after Easter. Later in April, the available crossings warn that there are only one or two places left.
The Aratere is sailing to Sydney for routine maintenance, but Interislander manager Walter Rushbrook said she would be back in time for Easter and the school holidays. The two remaining ferries, Kaitiaki and Valentine, were both operating at maximum capacity.
Bluebridge spokesman Will Dady said Bluebridge has been sailing near or at full capacity for some time due to high cargo and passenger demand in the Cook Strait.
Earlier in March, the Interislander was forced to reduce daily sailings when staff fell ill with Omicron.