Interislander’s Aratere sailings cancelled for urgent repairs

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On a stormy day, the Interislander ferry Aratere approaches the entrance to Wellington Harbour.Photo/Mark Mitchell

Inter-island sailings on the Aratere ferry have been cancelled due to emergency repairs.

That means there will be no inter-island passenger ships sailing for the rest of the day, which could affect any anti-government protesters heading to the capital from the South Island.

Walter Rushbrook, executive general manager of KiwiRail, said there was a problem with the ventilation system of the Aratere engine.

“We’re trying to get repairs done as soon as possible, but the system is difficult to access.

“At this stage, we expect Aratere to resume sailing tomorrow and work as planned.”

Rushbrook apologises for the disruption to passengers and freight customers.

The Cook Strait ferry service has been reduced to just one passenger vessel as it battles an increasingly unreliable and ageing fleet.

KiwiRail was forced to reduce services between the North and South Island between August and September.

The Aratere has just returned from wet docking and Kaitaki is in dry docking until 28 September.

The Kaiarahi ferry was “catastrophically” damaged and needed help from European experts last year when its gearbox failed. It hasn’t acted since then.

While another ship, Valentine, is currently sailing, it is only used for cargo.

As a result, no inter-island passenger ferries operate for the remainder of the day.

The Blue Bridge ferry is still running.

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