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TSS Earnslaw Steamship

This legendary steamship has serviced Queenstown for over a century, and even once carried Queen Elizabeth II.

First commissioned by New Zealand Railways in the early 20th century, this historic steamboat has been docked in Lake Wakatipu for over 100 years. The ship’s parts were built in Dunedin, then transported by train to the lake, where it was assembled. It has remained here ever since. Now you can join the passengers who use the boat to cross between Queenstown and Walter Peak High County Farm and enjoy the spectacular scenery.

Immediately recognisable thanks to its bright red funnel, it became famous in 1990 when Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip came on board for a ride across the lake.

The ship departs three times during the day from Steamer Wharf in Queenstown. When you’re crossing the lake, you’ll be able to see stokers shovelling fuel into the fire to power the engine. The 90-minute ride is a great way to learn about the ship and its significance to the wider region.

On board, treat yourself to a glass of New Zealand’s famous wine, or take a picnic lunch to enjoy on deck. When you cross over to Walter Peak, you can pay a visit to the working sheep and cattle farm over there and even stay for a tour round the station, a horse riding trek and a tantalising barbecue lunch.

For the best views of the lake and the surrounding scenery, ride on the top of the boat. However, bear in mind that changeable weather conditions make it advisable to take along a warm jacket as well as a pair of non-slip shoes!

Departing from Steamer Wharf every day, the TSS Earnslaw crosses the lake for 11 months of the year. Check with the operators to see whether the ship is running when you visit. It does cost to board, but in this fee you can also get entry to the Walter Peak High County Farm. If you’re driving, free parking is readily available at the wharf.


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