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Ferry from Australia to New Zealand

Can you get from Australia to New Zealand by ferry and if so: How?


The Maiden Voyage of the Ship the Southern Cross in 1955 was actually from the UK to Australia and New Zealand.

A ferry from Australia to New Zealand

Before we start answering and unraveling this question we first have to say: you are not the only one Googling about this question. Over 2200 people per month want to know more about this possible route. We hope you enjoy reading what we collected and researched, here are all the answers:

Is there a ferry service running from Australia to New Zealand?

No, there is no ferry service running at the moment. Answers however from others who say: “it's 2155 KM from Sydney to Auckland so a ferry service is impossible” are wrong. The Alaska Marine Highway System (USA) covers a coastline of 5630 Miles. Meaning long-distance ferry services are possible. 

Sometimes you also get the answer: “the sea is very rough so a ferry would be impossible”. That answer is also wrong. The Bass Straight between Tasmania and Victoria can be as wild as the Tasman Sea. (That is the sea between Sydney and Auckland) On the Bass Straight, there is even a daily connection which is The Spirit of Tasmania. (Geelong – Devonport). And that ferry can easily take enormous waves:

Why there are no ferries active between the countries

There are two problems.

  • The relatively low cost of air travel and car hire. (Meaning your business case is weak if you want to launch a ferry service between AU and NZ)
  • Australia is simply not close to New Zealand, meaning a ticket or a car transport would probably cost about $3000+, meaning you won't get enough bookings and turning this into a bad economical investment to launch.

But is it then impossible to book something?

No, if you want to transport a car, you can't travel with your car but you can, however, put the car in a container and ship it from Australia to New Zealand. It's complicated to organize however, there are a few websites where you might be able to book these kinds of cargo shipments from Australia to New Zealand:

Maritime carriers will need anything from 13 to 37 days to ship ocean freight from Australia to New Zealand.

Less than Container Load (LCL) Full Container Load (FCL)

  • Brisbane to Lyttelton – 26 days LCL
  • Brisbane to Wellington – 14 days LCL
  • Fremantle to Auckland – 26 days FCL, 17 days LCL
  • Fremantle to Lyttelton – 37 days FCL, 20 days LCL
    Melbourne to Auckland – 34 days FCL, 13 days LCL
    Melbourne to Christchurch – 22 days LCL
    Sydney to Auckland – 37 days FCL, 13 days LCL

Traveling by Boat as a Passenger

As a passenger, it's much easier to reach New Zealand. But you have to hop on a cruise ship and empty your wallet while doing so. It's going to be expensive but there are also many options since most cruises that travel to the South Pacific will also pass on to Australia and New Zealand.

You also need to drop the word ‘ferry' here as these ships are simply ‘cruise ships' connecting the two countries:

A few examples:

Taking a ride with a cargo ship 

It sounds super nice: tagging along with a cargo ship and paying not that much for it and reaching the other side. However, it's in 90% of the cases, not an easy thing to ‘take a ride on a cargo ship'. We've seen 100s of sem-negative reviews on these travels. We'll explain why:

  • It's a lot of hassle (on a ferry you are ticket #99213 on a cargo ship you are passenger #1, meaning it's not that easy to manage.)
  • These trips are in most cases quite expensive, you can be lucky however but it will never be really cheap.
  • Covid-19 messed up a lot of these cargo connections.
  • The captain is 100% in control, sounds like ‘fun' but not all captains are that nice and/or passenger friendly.

Was there a connection between Australia and New Zealand in the past?

Also here we have to say no. Of course, there were cruise ships traveling around the world connecting Australia with New Zealand while they were entering the Indo-Pacific. But there never was a regular ferry connection. 

Similar Subjects

Not that busy between AU and NZ

If you look on Vesselfinder you can easily see that it's not very busy with ships ( purple are very small ships and yellow are cargo ships) between Australia and New Zealand.  

Not many ships between AU and NZ

FAQ From Australia to New Zealand

Never, though the cruise lines from the past were a bit the same as the ferries we have today. So sometimes people think that in the 1950-1960 ferries were active but these were actually large cruise ships. 

The fastest big ferries go close to 30 knots. This would get you in 9 days from Sydney to Auckland.

It's of course different as you can also leave from Tasmania, but if you want to travel from a large hub: let's say Sydney. It's at least 2000 KM.