Crossing Cook Straight, New Zealand

Jessica Peterson

I imagined crossing the Cook Straight aboard a ferry to be this romantic, tranquil journey with pods of dolphin leaping acrobatically from the surrounding waters and unreal sunsets that would guarantee my place on speed dial at National Geographic.

Instead…

I nearly lost my lunch.

I will spare you the details of seasickness. My husband and I had driven from Rotorua to Wellington to catch a ferry to New Zealand’s South Island to continue our Adventures in Campervanning. Less than an hour into the journey I was face down in a wobbly toilet listening to the soothing sounds of female retching all around me. Fifteen minutes later I was drooling on my luggage head-to-toe from a gnarly bearded man in leather chaps. Oh yes, this is the glamour of international travel.

This 4 1/2-hour journey across Cook Straight was necessary as we were just half-way into our 9-day tour of New Zealand’s North and South Islands. We booked our passage on the Bluebridge Ferry not once but twice, having arrived just past the boarding hour the first time. As we were traveling in a motor home, that wasn’t too much of a problem. Both the ferry companies that ply the Cook Straight allow for the transport of motor homes, albeit, at a hefty price. So, we loaded Death Trap for Cutie (as my husband affectionately and unironically christened her) on the ferry along with hundreds of other pajama’d road-trippers teetering dangerously on The State of Dreadlocks for lack of bathing.

What the actual ride lacked in romance was more than compensated for by the majestic view. As the frigid wind whipped my hair, I steadied myself at the bow soaking it all in and clinging to my camera like it was my firstborn child. The ferry heaved confidently through the sizable swell as I snapped every hill, lighthouse, and buoy streaking by. Tim captured the latter images as we rolled into the picturesque port of Picton in South Island.

>> READ NEXT:  Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand: Heli Glacier Landing

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Photography by Timothy & Jessica Peterson

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Jessica Peterson

Jessica Peterson is a travel filmmaker, photographer, and journalist. She released her first documentary film about indigenous culture on Guam in 2016, after having lived nearly 7 years on the Pacific island.
Jessica Peterson
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16 Comments

  1. Doreen Pendgracs
    May 8, 2017 at 9:23 am

    I am looking out the window right now at a grey rainy day here at home. Thank you for sweeping me away to the beauty of Cook Straight.

  2. Tasha Haley
    Tasha HaleyReply
    May 8, 2017 at 10:21 am

    Oh my. The boat ride sounds less than glamorous. The views look worth it though!

  3. Natalie Tanner
    Natalie TannerReply
    May 8, 2017 at 10:40 am

    I’m sorry you felt bad!! I’ve had experienced that before and it is NOT fun!!! It is a little nerve wracking because you never know when that will happen! Some boat rides are easy!! The photos sure are awesome though….love them!

  4. Sasha
    SashaReply
    May 8, 2017 at 11:06 am

    Oh you poor thing, I can’t remember being sick on that journey myself but it sounds like you had a bit of a horrific time. You’re right though, the views seemed well worth it – beautiful pictures!

  5. Gemma
    May 8, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    Whilst your photographs are amazing and the scenery looks beautiful, I definitely wouldn’t have managed that journey. I always get sick on boats haha, you’re a brave lady! Glad you managed to enjoy the surroundings.

  6. Parenthood and Passports
    May 8, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    The views are stunning, but I don’t know that I could handle being on a ferry that long. We took a 90 minute ferry in Belize and it was bad enough. I guess I would make do though if it meant getting to explore a tropical paradise like this!

  7. Bhushavali
    May 9, 2017 at 12:27 am

    Oops!!! 4.5hrs ferry ride, that’s painful!!! We’ve taken a ferry from Europe to UK and that was about 1.5 hrs and I could manage that! I was so sleepy a couple times in the middle of night and was enjoying the seabreeze in the upper deck one early morning! But 3 times that, I dunno how I would have felt!

  8. Vyjay Rao
    Vyjay RaoReply
    May 9, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    That’s a long, long ferry ride and I would definitely doze off for sure. 🙂 Must say the views are fantastic and so are the photos. It’s sad to know that you had sea sickness during the trip. Feeling sick during travel can sometimes ruin the day. The lovely views might have been a respite.

  9. Marissa Abao
    Marissa AbaoReply
    May 9, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    I have worked in an international cruise ship but I did not get seasick. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same thing when taking a ferry. You can feel the movement of the rough sea right away.
    Your ferry ride was really long but the photos are worth it. They are lovely and breathtaking. I like the first photo the most.

  10. Tania Mukherjee
    May 11, 2017 at 7:07 am

    I am so sorry your health broke down so badly while on the sea. The magnificent view sure made up for all the bad experience you have had. The photos are all very amazing!

  11. manjulika pramod
    May 11, 2017 at 8:03 am

    I have been on a ferry in Koh Chang, Thailand recently but it was only for about 45 minutes. This looks really lengthy and since you became sea-sick, I am sure it would have become difficult to enjoy the way you wanted it. The pictures are nice and the views are lovely.

  12. The Travel Ninjas
    May 11, 2017 at 10:30 pm

    Wow those landscapes are gorgeous. It’s even more amazing that they took your motorhome on the ferry too. That’s a great idea and way to see NZ. Did you bring yours from the US or did you rent a motorhome in NZ?

  13. Chris Nash
    May 13, 2017 at 6:45 am

    Ah the joys of seasickness. I recall a host of locals struggling with same on a Ferry from Dili to Atauro Island (despite the waters being a still as glass).

    It really doesn’t make for a fun time, but true to reputation, those views are stunning!

  14. Neha Verma
    Neha VermaReply
    May 14, 2017 at 10:53 pm

    The place is surreal. I can relate to your sea sickness. I travelled long haul on a plane for my trip to Europe and towards the end of the journey I was feeling like why I ever thought of visiting here!

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