Electric ferry makes first passenger trip to Wellington Harbor

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Wellington Electric Boat Building Company co-director Jeremy Ward, left, and builder Fraser Foote at Queens Wharf after the first public sailing of the Ika Rere, the Southern Hemisphere's first electric ferry.

Ross Giblin / Stuff

Wellington Electric Boat Building Company co-director Jeremy Ward, left, and builder Fraser Foote at Queens Wharf after the first public sailing of the Ika Rere, the Southern Hemisphere’s first electric ferry.

Wellington’s first electric passenger ferry made its first public sail through Te Whanganui-a-Tara.

The Ika Rere (flying fish) docked at Queens Wharf carrying 54 passengers from Days Bay on Tuesday morning. East By West Ferries chief executive Jeremy Ward said the trip marked a new chapter in sustainable public transport for the city.

“It’s been a long road to get here. We are very happy to have come to this. »

Ward said there has been a lot of talk about the Ika Rere being the first electric passenger ferry in the southern hemisphere, but there are very few electric craft in the world that come close to its performance. .

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Built by the Wellington Electric Boat Building Company, of which Ward is part, in Lower Hutt, the 19-metre catamaran can carry a maximum of 135 passengers. East by West diesel ferries have a limit of 99. Construction started in 2019.

Her pair of 350 kilowatt engines can move the craft at 22.5 knots, compared to diesels which can do around 14 knots at full capacity.

Simon Hoyle

The Wellington-built 19-metre Ika Rere catamaran could be the first operational electric passenger ferry in the southern hemisphere.

Days Bay resident and frequent ferry user Garth Cheyne was on East By West’s first commercial service in 1989. He was impressed with the “fabulous” design and durable power plant.

“The fact that it’s clean on the environment is a big plus.”

Passenger Janet Andrews said Wellington was lucky to have a progressive new ferry at “one of the most beautiful ports in the world”.

The Ika Rere prepares to dock at Queens Wharf on her first public sailing on Tuesday morning.

Ross Giblin / Stuff

The Ika Rere prepares to dock at Queens Wharf on her first public sailing on Tuesday morning.

Roger Blakely, chair of the Greater Wellington Regional Council’s transport committee, said the Ika Rere was a feather in Wellington’s hat as it moved towards a more sustainable public transport network.

“Cities all over the world are having this conversation, and in [respect of water transport] Wellington is leading the charge.

Ward’s ambition was to grow the boat building business to the point where it could meet domestic and international orders. A business case for operating an airport service to Miramar with a shuttle transfer had been presented to the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

The Ika Rere will perform services for a week, before being taken out of the water for modifications. It is expected to start running regular services from the week of March 21.

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