Aratere returns to freight sailings

Interislander ferry Aratere caught earlybird observers by surprise when she completed her first freight sailing across Cook Strait this year in Wellington Harbour about 2am this morning.

When Aratere berthed at its Wellington terminal approximately 10 trucks - including large trucks from the Mainstream, Big Chill Distributors, Opzeeland Transport and Halls companies - trundled off the ship. 

At least three containers were also towed off the ship using Interislander Tractor units. 

A Maritime NZ spokeswoman said this morning Aratere had now been fully cleared to carry passengers and freight.  

Yesterday afternoon an Interislander spokeswoman released a statement advising Aratere was scheduled to begin freight-only sailings across the Strait on a reduced timetable later this week. 

Before that however she said the ship would leave Wellington on a "proving test run" return sailing at 5pm last night. 

The ship was expected to return to Wellington from Picton at approximately 10:30pm last night, she said. 

Aratere is gradually re-entering service following a three month refurbishment in Singapore after its starboard propeller fell off on a routine sailing from Picton to Wellington on November 5, last year.  

The Dominion Post