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The Lady Of The Lake

Posted by Dave Fahey: 29th Dec 2015 @ 12:09:48

It’s no secret that The Earnslaw is a real Queenstown icon. With 8 departures per day taking guests across to Walter Peak alpine sheep station, it’s hard to miss the old girl chugging across the lake with her smoke stack in tail. But in my eyes it’s one of Queenstown’s most underrated activities.

Now, usually I tend to write about the adventurous side of Queenstown, but after a recent trip on the TSS I thought it was important to give the old girl a shout out.

Last week we had our end of year Christmas party (one of my other jobs) and it was decided that we would head over to Walter Peak for dinner. At that point I was surprised to learn that 2 of our team, both long time Queenstowners had never been on the boat.

As we climbed on the boat and grabbed a beer I looked around to see the most diverse group of people I’d seen on an activity in Queenstown. There were people of all ages, nationalities and backgrounds & it reaffirmed my love for this town.

As we pulled away from the dock and made our way out of Queenstown bay a whole new side of Queenstown unfolded and the share size of the lake became apparent. You quickly feel like a speck in the ocean as 90kms of lake unfolds around you and giant peaks tower above you and descend steeply into the depths of Lake Wakatipu.

The trip across the lake is more than just your average cruise, it feels like your stepping back in time. Built in 1912 (same year as the Titanic) she is 48 meters log and powered by 2 giant coal fired steam engines, which you have the ability to watch in action. Passengers are encouraged to visit the engine room where you can see what makes the old girl tick & see the stokers hard at work, keeping the boilers red hot.

Once across at Walter Peak we joined the dinner sitting, and were treated to a buffet style meal of epic proportions. With good local food and an exceptional array of high country meats, there is enough choice and ample quantity to feed even the biggest of appetites. After a couple more beers it was off to watch the farm show. Delivered by one of the farm team responsible for keeping Walter Peak a fully operational sheep station, he had the right combination of information, kiwi sarcasm and central Otago humour.

Without going on about it for ever, I can whole heartedly say, that no matter who you are, what you’re into, a trip on the Earnslaw will not disappoint. Whether you’re just taking in the sights on the 90 minute cruise, or stopping off at Walter Peak for some food or a tour I believe it’s on the Queenstown must do list. And if all else fails, why not grab a beer, sit up on the top deck and sip on a cold one with a view most would kill to see.

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