Crossing Foveaux Strait for the first time can be intimidating. The stretch of water between Bluff (at the bottom of the South Island) and Stewart Island/Rakiura has a reputation of providing one of the wildest ferry rides in New Zealand. As the ocean depth is shallow – only 30-metres – it chops up quickly with wind and swell. On a rough day mountains of spray are about all you can see of the ferry crossing the strait.

With this in mind my partner Rick and I each took a Sea-Leg tablet before we boarded the smaller of the two catamarans in the fleet. Soon after leaving Bluff, swells were looming up in the front window and the captain was all concentration at the wheel. One or two passengers were looking pale. I clutched the handrail in between pitches and made my way to the stern where a row of men were holding on tightly to the side rail, looking ahead for the next big wave and riding the waves like surfers as showers of spray rained overhead. The wind whipped away the diesel fumes, calming my nervous stomach.


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