Take your own bike across Lake Wakatipu on the TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak before exploring at your own leisure.
With this non-guided cycling option you cruise across Lake Wakatipu on board the TSS Earnslaw and then explore the very scenic Back Road on your own bicycle (or one you’ve independently hired). The countryside is stunning as you climb through a golden tussocked valley into the rainforest surrounding the Mavora Lakes, where you can tour several Lord of the Rings locations.
Moderate fitness recommended
This cycle activity is suitable for experienced cyclists only
Moderate fitness is recommended
Contact us for timetable information
Please note: The TSS Earnslaw undergoes annual maintenance early June to early July each year. During this time departures do NOT operate.
You can hire mountain bikes in Queenstown from Outside Sports or other local suppliers
You need to be fully self-sufficient with food and drinks and to be well equipped in terms of gear and clothing. The cycling route along the Back Road is remote and there are no shops or other services of any kind
Safety helmets must be worn on the road and cyclists must not enter adjoining privately owned farmland
In the colder months be aware there are fewer daylight hours
There is no accommodation on the western side of Lake Wakatipu, so it is important cyclists ensure they make their return cruise back to Queenstown
How to book this trip
This trip cannot be booked online, so please contact us by phone, email or web chat to make your reservation.
It is essential that you allow adequate time to make your return cruise to Queenstown.
Real Journeys Visitor Centre on Steamer Wharf, 88 Beach Street, Queenstown Bay
What to bring
Bike repair kit
Warm sweater/fleece jacket
About the TSS Earnslaw
TSS Earnslaw Vintage Steamship, 1912
The TSS Earnslaw is an integral part of Queenstown’s pioneering history and to this day a Queenstown icon.
She was commissioned by New Zealand Railways to service the communities around Lake Wakatipu. Launched in the same year as the Titanic, the TSS Earnslaw’s maiden voyage was on 18 October 1912.
Soon known as The Lady of the Lake, she provided an essential link between the isolated farming communities along the lake and the outside world. At 48 metres long, she was the biggest boat on the Lake and carried passengers, sheep, cattle, mail and supplies.
Nearly scrapped in 1968, she was rescued and purchased by Real Journeys and put to work once again carrying passengers around the Lake. Since then the TSS Earnslaw has been painstakingly restored to its original condition – everything you see is pretty much like it was a 100 years ago. Today, the TSS Earnslaw is the only coal fired steamship in operation in the southern hemisphere, making her one of the most unique experiences in the world.
The TSS Earnslaw has featured in several movies including a cameo in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as an Amazon River Boat. Parts of the trawler SS Venture in Peter Jackson’s King Kong were inspired by the TSS Earnslaw. Famous composer Ron Goodwin composed a piece of music inspired by the rhythm of the TSS Earnslaw’s engines.
In case you haven't found the information you were looking for, we've put together some of the most common questions our customers ask about our trips. If you need more specific answers, please contact us directly.
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What is the weather like in Queenstown?
Queenstown has a climate with four distinct seasons however, being located in an alpine environment means the weather can be changeable. A guide for the temperatures you can expect is as follows: summer (December-February) 19-29 Celsius, autumn (March-May) 15-25 Celsius, winter (June-August) 5-10 Celsius, spring (September-November) 9-15 Celsius.
Where is the car parking in Queenstown?
Please allow an additional 30 minutes to find parking for your vehicle prior to your check in time.
There is limited free street parking available in the streets surrounding central Queenstown. There is paid parking available in the Man Street and Church Street parking buildings plus pay and display parking at the Boundary Street and Ballarat Street carparks.
Boundary Street and Ballarat Street carparks are suitable for motorhomes. Please allow 15 minutes to walk to the Real Journeys office from there.
How long does it take the TSS Earnslaw to get to Walter Peak High Country Farm?
The scenic cruise from Queenstown to Walter Peak takes 45 minutes and it takes in views of Walter Peak, Cecil Peak and the Remarkables mountain range plus panoramic views around Lake Wakatipu.
How long does it take to travel to Queenstown?
Queenstown is around 2-2.5 hours drive from Te Anau or around 1hr 15 minutes from Wanaka. For more travel locations please refer to our Driving Times webpage.
Does the TSS Earnslaw operate every day?
The TSS Earnslaw is scheduled to operate every day of the year (except when she undergoes annual maintenance). This is currently planned for early June 2020 - early July 2020 and during this period travel to/from Walter Peak is by one of our smaller boats. Walter Peak Independent Cycling does NOT operate during this time.
Online transactions/prices are conducted in what currency?
All prices and transactions on the Real Journeys website are in New Zealand dollars (NZD). This is specified on the Terms & Conditions page.
What happens if there is an emergency ?
Our staff are trained to deal with incidents and in case of an emergency you should listen to their instructions. We have a portable defibrillator on each of our overnight cruise vessels (Milford Mariner, Milford Wanderer and Fiordland Navigator). In addition to this we also have portable defibrillators at the following locations: • Milford Sound Visitor Terminal • Real Journeys Visitor Centre, Manapouri • Cavern House (Te Anau Glowworm Caves) • Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant, Walter Peak • TSS Earnslaw Vintage Steamship • Stewart Island Ferry (Bluff - Oban - Bluff).