A small ferry boat docked with ramp extended as passenger get ready to disembark.

East By West Ferries

Located on Wellington’s waterfront at Queens Wharf, East by West offers a pleasant 25-minute crossing to Days Bay, near Eastbourne. Or, a 45-minute journey if you stop off at Mātiu/Somes Island on the way. Commuter transport as much as tourism experience, it’s a great way to see the city.

Mātiu/Somes Island is a scientific and historic reserve managed by the Department of Conservation (DOC). It’s steeped in local history, from early Māori settlement to a prisoner of war camp, and then a quarantine station. It’s now rodent-free, rife with birdlife, and full of native flora and fauna.

Spend a few hours exploring the island, soak up views from the easy walking tracks, and look out for native tuatara reintroduced to the island.

Across the harbour, there’s plenty to do in Days Bay. From the ferry drop-off point on the jetty, it’s easy to spend the day exploring the area.

There are bush walks and parks, and kayak, paddleboard, and bike hire. You can swim and jump off the jetty, eat ice cream, or drink coffee while enjoying expansive views. Take a short walk to the nearby seaside village of Eastbourne where you’ll find restaurants, shops, and art galleries.

East By West has weekly and weekend timetables for its three ferries that cruise around the harbour up to seven times a day.

One of those ferries, Ika Rere, is the very first electric high-speed passenger ferry in the southern hemisphere. Locally built, the carbon-fibre 19-metre catamaran has a passenger capacity of 132 with three crew. There’s an on-board café and inside and outside seating options.

You can buy ferry tickets at East By West’s Queens Wharf office or on board. Children under 13 travel free. Its services are dog-friendly. You can also take bikes and luggage on board.