INTERISLAND Line’s trouble-plagued Cook Strait ferry services face more disruption this weekend, potentially crimping Easter freight and passenger movements.

In service alerts issued by owner KiwiRail, customers have been advised that due to maintenance required on its bow ramp, the ro-pax Kaiarahi will be loading and unloading vehicles via the stern until work is completed on 7 and 8 April.

As this will require vehicles – including freight units such as semi-trailers to u-turn on board the ship “this may result in short delays due to the longer turnaround time,” KiwiRail said. “However, we will be working hard to ensure the impact of any delays remains minimal.

The company assured that as the watertightness and structural integrity of the ship are not affected, Kaiarahi is safe to continue sailing:  “Safety is our top priority and as always, we appreciate your flexibility. As the Wellington gangway attaches to the affected end of the ship, we will provide a shuttle bus for foot passengers in the meantime.”

The problem has been compounded by forecast bad weather on Cook Strait, however, with KiwiRail pre-emptively cancelling sailings.

“Weather conditions in the Cook Strait during Easter weekend from Friday 29 March to midday Saturday 30 March are forecast to deteriorate with large swells predicted,” the company advised.

“As a safety precaution, the 8.30pm Kaitaki sailing from Wellington on Friday and its 2.30am return from Picton on Saturday have been cancelled. Affected passengers will be notified and transferred to an alternative sailing.

We are monitoring the situation closely and will update this service alert, and advise customers directly, if other sailings are impacted during this time.”