New TAIC inquiry: Interislander ferry Kaitaki loss of power

29 Jan 2023
Graphic superimposed on sattellite map of Cook Strait and Wellington harbour. Depicts route and speed of the ferry before, during and after the incident.
The ferry MV Kaitaki's route on the evening of 28 January and the next morning. Image: MARINETRAFFIC.COM/SUPPLIED

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission has opened an inquiry into the loss of power experienced by the Interislander ferry at about 5pm on 28 January 2023.

The Chief Investigator of Accidents, Naveen Kozhuppakalam, is appealing for ferry passengers and residents of Wellington’s South Coast who have videos or photographs of the events to contact TAIC at

Mr Kozhuppakalam says the reported circumstances were that the MV Kaitaki was en-route from Picton to Wellington with about 800 passengers and 80 crew on board. 

“At about 5pm, the vessel was in the Cook Strait off Wellington’s South Coast when it suffered a main engine failure and loss of propulsion. 

“The vessel dropped anchor and onboard engineers began repair work. Power was restored about 2 hours later. The vessel, escorted by two tugs, proceeded to Wellington without further incident.”

Mr Kozhuppakalam has appointed a team of investigators with expert knowledge of marine operations, engineering and maintenance.

Their initial investigation work will be to interview the ship’s crew, incident responders, Wellington harbour authorities, and other witnesses. The Commission will also inspect the ship and obtain all relevant records and electronic recorded data.

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission is a standing Commission of Inquiry. It opens an inquiry when it believes the circumstances of an accident or incident have - or are likely to have - significant implications for transport safety, or when the inquiry may allow the Commission to make findings or recommendations to improve transport safety.