To travel between the North Island and the South Island, take either the Interislander or Bluebridge ferry between Wellington and Picton. Both ferries carry cars. They also connect with KiwiRail trains, and a free shuttle is available between the railway station and ferry terminal in Wellington. The Picton railway station is a few minutes’ walk from the ferry terminals. Both ferries travel four to five times a day. Standard one-way passenger fare can be as much as NZ$70, but there are off-peak deals to be had for as low as NZ$39. The fare for a medium-size sedan costs around NZ$200. Be sure to ask about specials, including ferry-train package deals through KiwiRail, when you book.
Schedules are available at i-SITE visitor-information centers around the country. Most will arrange Interislander and Bluebridge ferry bookings. You can also check schedules and fares and book online via the Interislander and Bluebridge websites. Some fares allow you to make schedule changes up to the last minute and guarantee a full refund if you cancel prior to check-in. Discount fares can be booked once in New Zealand; these have some restrictions. No matter how you go about it, it's a good idea to reserve in advance, especially during holiday periods.
Bluebridge (0800/844–844 toll-free in New Zealand. www.bluebridge.co.nz.)
Interislander (644/498–3302 in U.S.; 0800/802–802 toll-free in New Zealand. www.interislander.co.nz.)