KiwiRail has shut down all vehicle bookings for its Interislander ferries until at least the end of January while its main ship is out of action.
A propeller came off the Aratere last week near the Tory Channel, leaving the vessel unable to carry passengers.
The Interislander's general manager, Thomas Davis, says it could be up to six months before the Aratere can operate a passenger service and, if a new ship were to be leased, it would not be in service until at least mid-January.
Mr Davis says 200,000 passengers and 55,000 cars were initially forecast for over the holiday period, but about 45% capacity has now been lost.
Existing bookings will be honoured and moved to sailings on other ferries, and Mr Davis hopes to allow new bookings for foot passengers soon.