Relief for 500 passengers as Interisland ferry finally docks after severe winds force nine-hour delay

Source: 1News

More than 500 passengers stuck onboard an Interislander ferry today will be breathing a sigh of relief, after the ferry finally docked in Picton tonight.

Strong winds thwarted its arrival after the Kaitaki ferry left Wellington at 9am today, carrying around 570 passengers.

It was due to arrive at around 12pm but was stuck at sea for hours after struggling to berth in Picton, high winds forcing a change of plan.

"Strong south east gales are causing delays for Cook Strait ferries trying to berth, with winds gusting in excess of 40 knots down Picton Harbour," Interislander general manager Walter Rushbrook told 1 NEWS.

"Part of the Picton terminal has also been damaged by the unusually high winds."

The ferry finally drew into the harbour just before 9pm today, a Picton local confirmed to 1 NEWS, with a number of ropes securing it to the dock.

The local says it's the one of the windiest days they've seen in the town.

"We've been waiting at home, you can see the ferries going back and forwards across Waikawa Bay from home," they said.

"It's been blowing very hard all day."

Rushbrook says passengers were kept up-to-date with the delays and were offered complimentary food and drinks on-board.

Passenger Lance Robinson says while people were frustrated, the mood picked up when they were all given fish and chips for dinner.

"There's a bit of frustration there but eventually I think there's the realisation that you can't do anything about it," he says.

"We can't be mad at them, they have to go with the weather conditions and so they're probably as frustrated as we are that this is going on."

He's staying positive and looking on the brighter side of the extensive journey.

"It's been 12 hours on the boat but man, the view of the sunset was amazing over the water, so that was legit to see that."

Another Picton resident says people at the terminal – who were meant to get on to go to Wellington – are “quite happy” as the Interislander finally pulled in to try and berth nearly nine hours behind schedule.

They’ve been told there was a three metre swell in the strait. They said they’ve been waiting for ages, and are now taking photos and “really excited they can hopefully get on it”.

Two return services between Wellington and Picton have been cancelled due to the weather.