What body of water separates the islands of New Zealand and how do you cross it?

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Have you ever wondered what body of water separates the islands of New Zealand? Well, look no further! The answer is Cook Strait.

Not only is this amazing body of water a key feature in picturesque views but it also serves an invaluable purpose for those travelling between both North Island and South Island.

You’re probably wanting to know what body of water separates the two islands so you can figure out how to cross Cook Strait, here’s everything you need to know.

What body of water separates the islands of New Zealand


As mentioned above, the answer is Cook Strait, a narrow stretch of water that is not only an important shipping route, but it is also popular with travellers who want to go from one island to the other.

The incredible views and stunning scenery make it a must-see for anyone visiting New Zealand.

Distance from North to South Island, New Zealand

The distance between the North Island and South Island of New Zealand, via the Cook Strait, is approximately 22 km wide at its narrowest point. It is also very deep, ranging from 150 metres to more than 400 metres.

Can you drive from the North to South Island?

Unfortunately, no, you can’t drive between North Island and South Island. There is no bridge between the two islands so the only way to make the journey is by ferry or plane.

Cheapest way to get from North island to South island, New Zealand 

When it comes to crossing Cook Strait there are two options, by plane or by ferry. The cheapest way to get from North Island to South Island is by ferry. The ferry offers a relaxed and scenic journey, giving you a chance to take in the stunning views of the Marlborough Sounds.

The ferry operates between Wellington on the North Island and Picton on the South Island. The journey takes around three and a half hours, and there are several departure times throughout the day from both cities. 

It is also possible to take your car on the ferry which is perfect if you’re on a New Zealand road trip across the two islands. Even though this option is more expensive, it can still work out cheaper than flying depending on how many people you’re travelling with.

However, if you’d like to save time and fly across Cook Strait, there are daily flights run by SoundsAir from Wellington International Airport to Picton. The flight time is only thirty minutes, but the cost of tickets can vary depending on the season.

A downfall to flying is that you won’t have a car when you get over the other side, if you don’t need one then great but if you do then you’ll probably want to factor in the cost of hiring a car.

new zealand road trip

Need to hire a car for your trip?

New Zealand is currently experiencing an influx of tourists post Covid, which is awesome, but it means rental cars are in hot demand. To avoid disappointment you’ll want to make sure you’ve got your rental car locked in well in advance.

Book one today!

How to catch the ferry between North and South Islands

If you decide to take the ferry across Cook Strait there are a few things you need to know. Firstly, you will need to book in advance as the ferries can get booked up quickly during peak season. You also need to make sure you arrive at least an hour before your departure time to allow for check-in and boarding procedures.

Once you have arrived at the port, you will need to check in at the terminal and then board the ferry. You will then begin your journey across Cook Strait, taking in all of its incredible scenery.

When it comes to purchasing tickets there are a few options. You can purchase them online or via phone, or alternatively head down to the ferry terminal and purchase them in person.

Is Interislander or Bluebridge cheaper?

There are two companies that offer ferries between Wellington and Picton, Interislander and Bluebridge. Often travellers ask which of the two companies is cheaper.

Bluebridge typically has cheaper prices but it is still worth checking out both companies when booking your ticket as there are numerous factors that will determine which is the best company for you to book with.

For example, both ferries run on different timetables so there may be certain travel times that suit you better. Additionally, both companies may run promotions and special offers from time to time which could affect the price of your ticket.

So when it comes to choosing between Interislander or Bluebridge, the best advice is to compare prices and schedules and make your decision based on what works best for you.

Overall, taking a ferry across Cook Strait is an amazing experience that will give you a chance to take in the stunning scenery that New Zealand has to offer. With a little bit of research, you can make sure you get the best deal for your journey.

Conclusion: What body of water separates the islands of New Zealand and how do you cross it?

So now you’ve learnt that the body of water that separates the islands of New Zealand is called Cook Strait and you know how to cross it. The Cook Strait is a critical part of travelling between the North and South Islands in New Zealand. It’s also incredibly beautiful, making it a popular tourist destination.

If you’re looking to cross the strait, can either take the ferry or fly, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Taking a ferry is cheaper but takes longer and flying is more expensive but quicker.

No matter which option you choose, crossing the Cook Strait is an essential part of any trip to New Zealand. So what are you waiting for? Book your trip today!

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