A cruise on Lake Wakatipu aboard the iconic steamship the TSS Earnslaw is undoubtedly one of the best ways to experience Queenstown’s famed scenic beauty.
The leisurely 90 minute cruise across the lake showcases some of Queenstown’s spectacular alpine scenery while offering you plenty of time to explore a piece of Queenstown’s living history – the 104 year old TSS Earnslaw.
You can visit the engine room and see its giant steam engines at work, view the collection of historical photos in our mini-museum, check out the bridge or even join a sing-along with the pianist. Or if you’d much rather, kick back and enjoy a wine or beer or some café-style food at our on-board Promenade Café and Bar.
Cruises depart regularly throughout the day. You can choose to do a cruise, or a cruise, combined with a visit to Walter Peak High Country Farm for a guided farm tour, horse trek, barbecue lunch or evening dining.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip and President Bill Clinton are among the famous people who have enjoyed their TSS Earnslaw experience. We’re sure you will too!
Please note: The TSS Earnslaw will undergo annual maintenance June 2018 - early July 2018 and will NOT be operating. Alternatively choose the 'Walter Peak Farm Tour' and travel across Lake Wakatipu is by one of our smaller boats.
The TSS Earnslaw is a 1912 Edwardian vintage twin screw steamer and one of the oldest tourist attractions in Central Otago.
It's the only remaining commercial passenger-carrying coal-fired steamship in the southern hemisphere.
Real Journeys Visitor Centre, Steamer Wharf, 88 Beach Street, Queenstown
Shoes/boots (non-slip), warm clothing/jacket, sunscreen/sunglasses and camera.
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.
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 March 1990, the TSS Earnslaw carried Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.
Other royalty to travel on board have been the King and Queen of the Belgians and the Prince of Thailand.
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.
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.
Queenstown parking spaces are scarce with most downtown parking being metered 7 days a week. There is a pay and display parking area in Athol Street (entry from Shotover Street), large underground car parks in Church and Man Streets.
The scenic cruise from Queenstown to Walter Peak takes 45 minutes and it takes in views of Walter Peak, Cecil Peak and the Remarkable Range plus panaromic views around Lake Wakatipu.
From Christchurch to Queenstown by car takes around 7 hrs 15 mins. For more information refer to our Driving Times webpage.
Yes, Walter Peak is an ideal location for a wedding and can be accessed via the TSS Earnslaw Vintage Steamship across Lake Wakatipu. Please refer to our Events and Wedding page.
The TSS Earnslaw is scheduled to operate every day of the year (except when she undergoes annual maintenance). This is currently planned for mid May 2017 - late June 2017 and during this period travel to/from Walter Peak is by launch. Walter Peak Independent Cycling does NOT operate during this time.
All prices and transactions on the Real Journeys website are in New Zealand dollars (NZD). This is specified on the Terms & Conditions page.
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 board 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).