DEV Aratere

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Aratere 2011
DEV Aratere after her 2011 modifications
Name: Aratere
Operator: Interislander
Port of registry: Wellington,  New Zealand
Route: Wellington to Picton
Builder: Astillero Barreras, Spain
Cost: NZ$132 million
Yard number: 1570
Launched: 1998
Christened: 1999
Status: In restricted service
General characteristics
(after 2011 modifications)
Tonnage: 12596 tonnes
Length: 183.5 m (602 ft 0.4 in)
Beam: 20.5 m (67 ft 3.1 in)
Draft: 5.5 m (18 ft 0.5 in)
Decks: 6
Installed power: Four Wärtsilä 8L32 diesel engines, each producing 3600 kilowatts at 750 rpm
Propulsion: Fixed propellers, each four blades inward turning
Speed: 19.5 knots (36.1 km/h; 22.4 mph)
Capacity: 670 passengers
230 cars or 30 trucks (800 tonnes)
32 rail wagons (1,700 tonnes)[1]
Crew: 31

DEV Aratere is a roll-on roll-off rail and vehicle ferry in service for Interislander in New Zealand. Built in 1998 and lengthened in 2011, she operates six crossings from Wellington to Picton each day. In November 2013, she lost one of her propellers in Cook Strait.[2]


Diesel Electric Vessel (DEV) Aratere was built for Tranz Rail, now KiwiRail, in 1998 to replace the ageing MV Aratika. The name Aratere means "Quick Path" in the Māori language.[3]

In 2011, Aratere underwent a $52 million refit at the Sembawang shipyard in Singapore,[4] increasing her capacity from 360 to 600 passengers. The refit included a new bow and stern. The ship was lengthened by cutting it in half to insert a new 30-metre (98 ft 5.1 in) midsection.[5]


Aratere has been involved in several technical problems and engine failures over her years in service. There is no official relationship between these incidents, though the media have stoked speculation that the ferry may be jinxed and she has earned the nickname "El Lemon".[3][6] Notable incidents have included:

  • 25 February 1999 - An engine failure.[7]
  • 18 December 2000 - An engine malfunction.[8]
  • 1 October 2004 - "30 seconds of potential disaster" after Aratere has a steering fault in the Marlborough Sounds.[9]
  • 10 February 2005 - Aratere was detained after a "crisis of confidence" with inspectors noting that she had arrived from Spain six years earlier in a shocking state. They could no longer allow her to operate as she was [10] She was eventually allowed to sail again on 15 March.[11][12]
  • After the extensive refit carried out in Singapore in 2011, she has once again experienced numerous incidents, including engine failures.[13] On 2 November 2011 Maritime NZ ordered the ship to stop operating until proven safe.[14]
  • On 5 November 2013 Aratere snapped a drive shaft losing a propeller in Cook Strait. This initially forced the ship out of service, causing disruption to Interislander schedules.[2][15] Subsequently the ship was allowed to make freight only crossings with only one propeller for propulsion.[16]


Like the Interisland ferry Arahura, Aratere has both rail and vehicle decks. These can be loaded simultaneously through the stern via a double linkspan. A lower hold has additional space for cars, though access to this hold was blocked off after the refit in Singapore.[17]

Aratere has six decks.[17]

  • Deck 1 - Engine and propulsion rooms
  • Deck 2 - Rail deck
  • Deck 3 - Road vehicle deck
  • Deck 4 - Passenger accommodations, including video arcade, food court, play area, lounge, and a shop
  • Deck 5 - Passenger accommodations, including outdoor seating.
  • Deck 6 - Bridge and sun deck

As the Interislander service only takes 3-4 hour, she only has ten double-berth cabins.


Aratere operates six crossings of the Cook Strait each day (three passenger, three freight). In late 2009, Aratere celebrated her 20,000th crossing, having travelled around 2 million kilometres.[18]


  1. ^ "Facts and Figures - Aratere". The Interislander. 
  2. ^ a b Aratere out of action for six months. 3 News NZ. 14 November 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Strait ferries weigh on government books". Television New Zealand. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  4. ^ "Aratere arriving in Wellington". Dominion Post (Fairfax New Zealand). Retrieved 2011-09-23. 
  5. ^ "World rolling stock market October 2010". Railway Gazette. Retrieved 26 February 2012. 
  6. ^ "El Lemon". New Zealand History Online. 
  7. ^ "Breakdown sees safety authority detain new ferry". The New Zealand Herald. 25 February 1999. Retrieved 6 October 2009. 
  8. ^ "Cook Strait Ferry Aratere Back in Service". The New Zealand Herald. 22 December 2000. Retrieved 6 October 2009. 
  9. ^ "Aratere mishaps exposed serious failings". The New Zealand Herald. 17 June 2005. Retrieved 6 October 2009. 
  10. ^ "Aratere ruled unfit for people". The Dominion Post. 11 February 2005. Retrieved 6 October 2009. 
  11. ^ "Aratere ferry to sail under conditions". Maritime New Zealand. 10 February 2010. Retrieved 26 February 2012. 
  12. ^ "Aratere sailing conditions expected to be lifted Monday". Maritime New Zealand. 10 March 2010. Retrieved 26 February 2012. 
  13. ^ "Aratere barred from sailing over engine trouble". Dominion Post. Retrieved 26 February 2012. 
  14. ^ Gillies, Abby (2 November 2011). "Maritime NZ halts ferry sailings". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2 November 2011. 
  15. ^ "Cook Strait ferry Aratere out of action again". The New Zealand Herald. 6 November 2013. Retrieved 6 November 2013. 
  16. ^ Donahue, Tim (9 December 2013). "Crippled Aratere to set sail again". Dominion Post. Retrieved 24 December 2013. 
  17. ^ a b "Aratere". NZ National Maritime Museum. Retrieved 26 February 2012. 
  18. ^ "Staff Newsletter - Aratere completes 20,000th crossing" (PDF). The Express (16) (KiwiRail). 15 October 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2010. 

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