Meridian’s new $2.7 million catamaran ferry slipped quietly into Dunedin last night for a refuelling stop as part of its maiden voyage.

The ferry, The Mararoa, docked at Port Chalmers and was due to sail for Bluff this morning, before being trucked to Lake Manapouri, Meridian spokesman Gerald Raymond said.

The 19m ferry was launched in Wanganui last week, and would be used to transport staff to and from Meridian’s Manapouri power station at West Arm on Lake Manapouri, Mr Raymond said.

The faster, more fuel-efficient ferry would replace two ageing vessels – Endeavour and Resolution – which were built in the 1960s, he said.

As well as using less fuel, the twin-hulled vessel’s wake would be smaller, reducing the impact on the environment, he said.

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