Since we first set sail across the Strait in 2002, we’ve worked hard to improve our service with every sailing to give you a truly unique onboard experience. Check out our latest sailing timetable or book now to experience Bluebridge for yourself.
Strait Shipping beginnings
Jim Barker is the kind of man who sees opportunities not problems. As the founder of Strait Shipping Jim introduced a new shipping service into Cook Strait in 1992. He didn't do it because he was tempted by a life at sea, but because he needed a competitive, reliable way to shift livestock between the North and South Islands. With escalating prices and frequent disruptions, he saw no way around it – he had to get his own ship.
Along with three other shareholders, Jim located the MV Straitsman in Tasmania – a small walk-on walk-off ro-ro with pens able to carry 400 cattle. The ship made its inaugural sailing in May 1992. Our newest ship is renamed after this iconic first boat.
Growth into freight
From these early beginnings we expanded our services to meet the growing
demands of transport companies, introducing healthy competition and exciting changes to the Cook Strait route. Our next ship, the Suilven from Scotland,
signalled the start of Freightlines (part of our group link) and captured the needs of the freight market.
Next came the Kent from Ireland, capable of carrying 30 trucks compared to 13 on the Suilven. This increase in capacity opened up a better quality service for our freight customers and the ability to offer more sailings with up to four a day.
Bluebridge passenger services
Our decision to launch a passenger service that gave travellers a true Kiwi experience when crossing Cook Strait – and again introduce competition to what was a monopoly market – was another major leap forward.
So in early 2002, after a long search to find the Santa Regina, Bluebridge was born.
In order to keep up with the demand for another passenger service on Cook Strait we introduced the Monte Stello in 2006 which was upgraded with the introduction of the Straitsman in 2010.
After many great years servicing our passengers needs on Cook Strait the Santa Regina retired in June 2015 when it stepped aside for the Strait Feronia - our most recent addition to our fleet.
Today we carry passengers and vehicles between Wellington and Picton up to four times daily on both the Straitsman and the Strait Feronia.
MV Straitsman (the original)
MV Straitsman was Strait Shipping's first vessel, with an overall length of 62.52 metres and a gross tonnage of 726 tonnes. Used to transport livestock, the Straitsman launched Strait Shipping's service across Cook Strait between Wellington, Picton and Nelson in 1992. The Straitsman operated continuous service until the introduction of MV Santa Regina in 2002.
MV Suilven was the second ship to join Strait Shipping, with a gross tonnage of 3638 tonnes and 250 lane metres. She entered service in 1995 and for seven years ran between Wellington and Picton before being sailing the Wellington to Nelson service in late 2002. During this time she sailed three round trips a week for freight and a small number of passengers. In April 2004 the Suilven was sold.
The MV Kent was purchased from Ireland in 2001 and originally utilised on the Cook Strait run, doing a weekly service from Wellington to Nelson. In January 2007 she began a coastal service moving containers and general freight between the ports of Wellington, Nelson and Napier and later Lyttelton. At just 7,000 tonnes, the Kent had a service speed of 15 knots and a capacity of 1,100 lane metres. The Kent was sold in 2010.
MV Santa Regina
In December 2002 the MV Santa Regina came into operation and launched Strait Shipping’s passenger service, known as Bluebridge. The Santa Regina was built in 1985 and had an overall length of 136m with 1300 lane metres. The Santa Regina was able to take 400 passengers and retired from service in June 2015 after many great years of servicing our customers’ needs between Wellington and Picton.
MV Monte Stello
In 2006 the Monte Stello was introduced to the fleet providing added capacity to the growing passenger market. The Monte Stello was built in 1979 and had an overall length of 126.50 carrying up to 300 passengers. The Monte Stello was sold in 2010 and was replaced by the MV Straitsman
Built in 2005, the Danish designed and Dutch built Straitsman is the most modern vessel sailing Cook Strait today. Formerly called the Dueodde, the ship joined our fleet in 2010. The ship was renamed in recognition of Strait Shipping’s first vessel, which was in service for 11 years from when the company first launched in 1992. The Straitsman is the greenest ship to cross the Strait with a range of eco-friendly features. The vessel is 125 metres long, takes 40 trucks, 120 other vehicles and up to 350 passengers (plus crew and truck drivers). Other features include a contemporary Scandinavian interior, comfortable modern private cabins, reclining seats, café, reception area, family area, viewing lounge, extensive decking, toilets and family change areas.
MV Strait Feronia
Built in 1997, the Italian designed and built Strait Feronia is the largest ferry crossing Cook Strait. It can take up to 60 trucks, 140 other vehicles and 350 passengers (plus crew and truck drivers). Before entering service in New Zealand, the vessel received a full refurbishment of the public areas to meet our customer’s needs. The refurbishment included the introduction of a movie lounge, quiet lounge, family room, working station and an upgrade to the café and bar area. Formally called the Stena Feronia, the ship joined our fleet in June 2015. The vessel was renamed Strait Feronia recognising its past heritage and its future with StraitNZ.
About responsible tourism
Responsible tourism is about respecting, protecting and benefiting local communities, cultures and the environment. For you, this can mean making holiday choices with these concerns in mind, from the destinations you visit and the way you travel, to the services you choose once you arrive. For us, it’s about operating in one of the world’s most beautiful and unique stretches of water and wanting to keep it that way. That’s why minimising the impact our business has on the environment, is a priority for us. Below are just some of the sustainable business practices we’re committed to
On board with sustainability
Our newest vessel - The Straitsman, was chosen partly because of its ‘green features.’ As the most modern, ship operating on Cook Strait it operates a variety of technologies to ensure maximum efficiency such as utilising waste energy from the engines to heat water, it is also fitted with a heat recovery wheel which is used to help produce heat, in the winter.
Fuel efficiency is a priority across the fleet, with the ships operating on a schedule that ensures optimal sensible fuel usage and therefore reduces emissions.
We use an environmentally approved paint system on the hulls of our vessels that is designed to reduce drag through the water and save fuel.
We offer recycling (paper, glass and plastics) on board for both passengers and staff – and actively encourage their usage. We aim to source products that are grown or sourced locally and use minimal packaging. Where products are not available locally, such as coffee beans, we choose organic and Fair Trade. Toiletries and cleaning products are purchased in bulk and are safe for the marine environment.
An eco-friendly future
This year we are focussing on the following priority areas:
- Conserving water on the vessels and ashore. Monitoring our water usage and reviewing how we use water.
- Thinking before we buy – informed buying decisions can help us collectively reduce raw materials, waste, and pollution. We aim to review our ordering practices to ensure we are being as responsible as possible.
Sustainability on shore
Both our passenger terminals and Head Office operate with sustainability in mind. Visitors and staff are encouraged to recycle, with bins placed in high profile locations in each area.
Tight inventory management and ordering processes prevents us from stock piling outdated marketing materials. It also allows us to keep printing to an absolute minimum but when we do, we use elemental chlorine free stock from certified sustainable sources. We offer our customers electronic invoices; tickets and communications (we keep mail-outs to a minimum).
Our downtown Wellington terminal was designed with energy conservation in mind, with a special shutter system that monitors CO2 levels and temperature and self ventilates depending on the weather.
Our role in the community
As a founding sponsor of the Kaipupu Point Wildlife Sanctuary in Picton, we’re helping ensure that New Zealanders and visitors for generations to come will be able to enjoy a taste of the natural beauty and wildlife of the Marlborough Sounds – predator free. If you’d like to know more about this project visit kaipupupoint.co.nz
We’re also staunch supporters of Sustainable Coastlines. They coordinate and support large scale coastal clean-up events, riparian planting projects, schools educational road-shows, public awareness campaigns and other projects aimed at protecting and sustaining our coastlines. We participate in clean-up events and provide the Sustainable Coastlines team with free transport between the islands. For more info or to find out how you can get involved visit sustainablecoastlines.org
We work closely with the Tourism Industry Association to support the efforts of the New Zealand Responsible Camping Forum.
And naturally, we willingly support a number of community and charity initiatives every year through our community investment programme. Find out more about this initiative here.