DEV Arahura was a roll-on roll-off diesel-electric rail ferry completed in 1983 for the New Zealand Railways Corporation. She entered service across Cook Strait between Wellington and Picton in late 1983 and was retired from the Interislander fleet in July 2015.
Arahura was built for the New Zealand Railways Corporation to cross Cook Strait replacing the aging Aramoana and Aranui. She was designed to operate at a higher service speed than the previous ferries on the route, while reducing waves that would affect nearby beaches. This decreased the crossing times by 20 minutes.
The Arahura was the second inter-island ferry to bear the name, which means "Pathway to Dawn" in the Māori language. The earlier vessel was a twin screw steam ship built for the Union Steamship Company in 1905. That ship served until the early 1950s and was sunk by the RNZAF as target practice.
In 1986, Arahura helped rescue passengers from the sinking Russian cruise liner Mikhail Lermontov. She was invaluable providing lifeboats and extra assistance.
On 11 April 1989, Arahura rolled to 40 degrees during a routine sailing from Picton to Wellington, due to stormy conditions in Cook Strait.
In 2008, Arahura underwent a $NZ 9 million refit to better accommodate larger trucks and campervans. This included reducing some of the upper decks and a new cinema and cafeteria.
In 2014, she made her 50,000th Cook Strait crossing.
In December 2014, Interislander announced that Arahura would be retired in 2015 after 32 years in service. MS Kaiarahi (formerly MS Stena Alegra) has been chartered to replace her on the route. Arahura's last scheduled passenger voyages were on 29 July 2015, operating the 14:45 sailing to Picton and the 18:45 sailing to Wellington. The last freight journey took place over the following night. She had completed more than 52,000 crossings and 13 million km with 4 million passengers carried.
On 3 October 2015, renamed 'Ahura' and with her Interislander livery on the hull painted out, she departed Wellington, bound for the Alang scrapyard in India, being beached there on 3 November. Scrapping was completed in late January 2016.
Arahura has changed liveries three times in her lifetime. Originally, she had a green hull and buff, red, and black on the funnel (a modified 1970s NZR logo).
In 1989, the inter-island service was re-branded as a "ferry cruise", and the livery of all the ferries was replaced with a white hull with blue and green stripes. The funnels now carried a stylized 'Pelorus Jack', a dolphin famous for assisting vessels navigating across the Cook Strait.
The liveries were changed again in 2004. Pelorus Jack was relocated to the hull and the funnels were now blue with a fern replacing Pelorus Jack.
Arahura was a diesel electric vessel. She had a fuel capacity of 450,000 litres and was built with the capability to provide power ashore for civil defence or similar emergencies providing 14 MW power - enough power to light all the houses in Wellington.
Rail and road vehicles were loaded and unloaded through the stern of the ship via a double linkspan. Passengers without vehicles board through a walkway on the starboard side.Decks 1 and 2 were below the waterline and contained the ship's engines, control room and other machinery.
Deck 3 was the rail deck, which could also hold motor vehicles.
Deck 5 was the dedicated vehicle deck.
Deck 7 contained passenger accommodations, including a play area, video arcade, food court, a cinema, and a store.
Deck 8 contained the passenger observation decks and the Queen Charlotte Cafe and Bar
Deck 9 housed the bridge and officers' quarters. She carried approximately 70 crew, half of whom lived on-board on a 7 days on, 7 days off roster cycle.