We recently had the pleasure of travelling return to Picton from Wellington with the awesome Bluebridge Cook Strait Ferries. We sailed on the Strait Feronia, and choose to drive on and stay in one of their family cabins. This has to be one of the best ways to cross the Cook Strait.
Our destination was Picton. But we were also travelling down to Kaikoura, and we spent a couple of days in Nelson too. So we definitely needed a car at the other end.
We’ve tried the whole car-hire-from-airport-terminal thing in the past. And let me tell you, driving onto the ferry, and driving straight off at the other end, is so much better!
All of our luggage stayed in the car, accept for a small overnight bag. So we had no luggage to deal with. Waiting in the car to board the ferry was way better than dealing with kids in an airport terminal. And waking up to a fresh coffee, and hot chocolate for the kids, then just driving off was so much better than wrangling kids and bags through an airport.
In fact, it was so efficient, we had to wander around Blenheim for 20 minutes for the first cafe to open for breakfast!
But the very best part was staying in the family cabins.
Staying in a family cabin made crossing the Cook Strait such a pleasure.
We could spread out in our cabin, and just do our own thing, which was perfect. The cabins are warm, clean and well presented. The beds are very comfy (and the kids LOVED staying in a bunk bed on the ship!). And having a shower before you get back on the road was just bliss.
We choose an overnight crossing to Picton, and then a late night crossing back to Wellington. And this is such a great parenting hack.
We all slept on both legs of the journey. And we awoke refreshed, washed and ready to hit the road at either end.
We’d definitely choose the cabins again, even for a day-time crossing. Just to have the space to spread out, use your own toilet, take a nap if you want. This is such a nice way to travel.
Both of Bluebridge’s ferries have free wifi, free movies, free kid’s packs, and good food and great coffee. On the Strait Feronia, which we sailed on, there’s even a kid’s movie area. The kids loved sitting in there with their hot chocolates, we had to drag them out eventually!
And if you’re planning on crossing during the school holidays, there’s usually free onboard entertainment for the kids too.
The staff are fantastic. Even on the late night crossing we travelled on, the next day the staff were all bright-eyed and smiling, and ready to point you in the right direction (good for us as we are a bit geographically challenged!).
And definitely try out the hot chocolates from the restaurant. Our kids kept raving about the, ‘best hot chocolate ever’.
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All good things come to an end eh? But what a spot to watch the sun go down over a glass of wine. We Love Picton! If you're heading there, make sure to take the kids to Lochmara Lodge. The kids literally take off their shoes, get in the sea and feed stingray! Now that's Kiwi tourism at its best… Parent travel hack #3 – look out for interactive/educational activities. They often last longer, engage kids better, and the whole family learns something new, that's value for money in my book!
Bluebridge Cook Strait Ferries
Bluebridge Cook Strait Ferries sails 44 times a week, and they take around 300,000 passengers across the Strait each year.
They sail 4 times a day from Wellington to Picton, including the 2.30am overnight sailing that we chose. And they sail 3 times a day from Picton to Wellington.
There’s free wi-fi, movies and kids packs onboard. Plus if you’re travelling over the school holidays, there’s usually onboard entertainment too.
Bluebridge Ferries offers Airpoints Dollars, has awards for sustainability, and was recently voted as New Zealanders’ favourite way to cross the Cook Strait.
Having your car at the other end, having space in a family cabin to spread out and nap, the wonderful staff, the great coffee (and hot chocolates) all made for a stress-free, and pleasurable, crossing. We’ll definitely be crossing the Cook Strait on a Bluebridge Ferry again!