TSS Earnslaw Lake Cruise in Queenstown

We were travelling in the slow lane on this trip to Queenstown so a cruise on the TSS Earnslaw out to Walter Peak Station for a farm tour and afternoon tea sounded like the perfect afternoon out, and it was.

TSS Earnslaw on Lake Wakatipu

TSS Earnslaw on Lake Wakatipu

The grand old Lady of the Lake is a coal powered steamer and made her maiden voyage in 1912, the same year as the Titanic. In the early days she delivered sheep, people and supplies to isolated farms along Lake Wakatipu. Road improvements meant less demand for steamships, but tourism saved the Earnslaw from the scrap heap. It’s hot work keeping her moving and anyone with an interest in giant pistons, shiny gauges and other things you find in the guts of a steamship will be pleased to know you can see it all from the safety of a walkway above the action.

The Stoker at work shovelling coal in the Engine Room

The Stoker at work shovelling coal in the Engine Room

Coal powered clothes dryer

Coal powered clothes dryer

There’s a cafe and licensed bar onboard, good views all round and seating inside and out, the engine room would be the place to linger in winter.

Interior of the TSS Earnslaw - you might find a quiet spot in the saloon

Interior of the TSS Earnslaw – you might find a quiet spot in the saloon

The 11km cruise across the lake to the stately Walter Peak Homestead takes about 45 minutes. We were rounded up (in the nicest possible way) by our guide Cam and taken on the farm tour.

The stately Walter Peak Homestead

The stately Walter Peak Homestead

Farm animals we saw included wrinkly merino sheep (minus their wool), red deer, alpaca and the gorgeous giants, Highland cattle.

Move over Gene Simmons

Move over Gene Simmons

Irresistible

Irresistible

There are 15000 sheep on Walter Peak Station, Cam sent his border collie Sue to round up three of them.

Rounding up the sheep

Rounding up the sheep

We finished the tour in the woolshed – little lambs created a smilefest, and Cam gave us a sheep shearing demonstration. The wool fleece from a sheep is worth around $120 and good shearers can shear 350 – 400 sheep a day. Wool is an amazing natural fibre, it’s renewable (a sheep grows a new fleece every year), it’s flame retardant. and breathable so it keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer (end of public service announcement).

Little lamb, many fans

Little lamb, many fans

Shearing demonstration

Shearing demonstration

Special mention has to be made of Cam, he was funny, friendly and informative, the perfect host.

Cam hamming it up for all us tourists

Cam hamming it up for all us tourists

Our time at Walter Peak Homestead ended with a buffet style afternoon tea of cake, scones and hot drinks.

Buffet style afternoon tea at Walter Peak Farm

Buffet style afternoon tea at Walter Peak Farm

Tea and scones with a view

Tea and scones with a view

Real Journeys run a few different combinations of cruises to Walter Peak. The farm tour and afternoon tea cruise costs $77 per adult, and just like Cam we give it the big thumbs up.

Tip: Check out the specials page, especially if you’re taking children – during the NZ School Holidays kids travel free on selected departures.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *