A ferry passenger in his 80s says he feels “abandoned” and “broken” after yet another Interislander ferry has stopped operating - leaving hundreds trapped on the wrong islands until March. Just two of the normal six Cook Strait ferries are now taking passengers on the crossing. The Interislander’s KAIARAHI was taken out of service after Interislander said it developed an engineering problem and needed repairs.A statement on the Interislander’s website read there was no room to rebook passengers on other sailings, and tickets will be cancelled and refunded.

Another vessel, KAITAKI , is still only taking freight after an engineering problem at the end of January - leaving just the Aratere taking passengers. “We are moving those with bookings on the KAITAKI to ARATERE,” Interislander said. Bluebridge is also suffering from breakdowns, with its new ship the third Cook Strait ferry in three weeks to encounter trouble between the islands.

The CONNEMARA, which arrived in Wellington late last month, got into trouble on the way to Picton on Friday. It returned and docked in Wellington with assistance on Saturday.
Bluebridge is already down one ferry as the Strait Feronia was sent to Sydney last week for its scheduled dry dock. The FERONIA is due back at the end of March, meaning sailings until then are even more restricted.

Murray McIvor had sailed from Wellington to Marlborough with some friends to celebrate his 80th birthday. They were due to sail home last week, but due to Cyclone Gabrielle this was cancelled. No new sailings were available within the week leaving the group who are in their 80s, stranded. Mcivor told the Herald he, and his friends all have medical needs requiring medication - which was in Wellington. The only option was to fly home, leaving their vehicle in the South Island. He said the flights cost $839.40 and that he felt lucky to have secured them, as they were selling out quickly. “In the end, I said to my daughter I have to come home, I’m buggered, I’m broken.” “I feel I’ve been abandoned completely,” he told the Herald.“They have completely abdicated responsibility and that is wrong.”
Now, with their only vehicle stuck in the South Island, the 80-year-old has had to book his granddaughter on a flight to Blenheim, and another sailing to get the car back to Wellington – a sailing which has also now been cancelled. “This should not happen. We’re lucky, we have daughters who have cars but they have families of their own.” McIvor says there has been no word on a refund from Interislander, and he is now severely out of pocket. “They have decided it’s too hard, so they have dropped the ball and told us to pick it up ourselves.”

Source : NZherald