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New Zealand ferry that ran aground is refloated

By Thomson Reuters Jun 22, 2024 | 7:08 PM

SYDNEY (Reuters) – A ferry between New Zealand’s two main islands that ran aground on Friday night was successfully refloated late on Saturday, the government of the Pacific nation said.

Operated by state-owned enterprise KiwiRail, the Interislander Aratere ferry ran aground in Picton Harbour on the north coast of the South Island. It had been due to travel to Wellington on the North Island but, according to media reports, hit the shore after a steering failure.

There were no injuries although 47 people had to spend the night aboard, local media reported, in an incident the government described as “very concerning”.

Transport Minister Simeon Brown said late on Saturday that the Aratere had “been pulled off the shore and is now floating”.

“The vessel will now be anchored in the Picton Harbour as it is safely retrieved and further checks are undertaken,” Brown said on X, formerly Twitter.

Interislander management said divers that checked the ferry found minimal damage and determined the vessel was water-tight, Radio New Zealand reported on Sunday.

KiwiRail says the fleet ferries nearly 800,000 passengers across the Cook Strait, which separates the country’s North and South Islands, each year.

(Reporting by Sam McKeith in Sydney; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)