This is a New Zealand farming tour like no other – a visit to the Walter Peak High Country Farm and the perfect opportunity to spend a relaxing few hours enjoying the interactive experience.
Farming in the New Zealand high country is a way of life – and it’s one you can get up close to at Walter Peak.
Situated on picturesque Lake Wakatipu’s south-western shores, Walter Peak High Country Farm is an idyllic place to spend a relaxing few hours. The farm tour itself is a wonderful, interactive experience, with something to keep everyone entertained and happy.
You will be greeted by our rural host upon disembarking the TSS Earnslaw, who will take you to the sheep shearing demonstration and where you will watch the remarkable skill with which the farm dogs round up sheep from the paddocks.
You will have time for a walking tour of the farmyard, visiting the holding pens, where you can help feed the sheep and deer and even get up close to the Scottish Highland Cattle. Then a stroll to the charming old wool shed for morning or afternoon tea. You may have time to stroll through the lakeside gardens before you re-board the TSS Earnslaw for your cruise back to Queenstown.
Things you should know
Real Journeys Visitor Centre on Steamer Wharf, 88 Beach Street, Queenstown Bay
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.
Walter Peak High Country Farm, on the western shores of Lake Wakatipu, is steeped in history. Its sheltered bays were used as camping sites by Maori travelling to the Mararoa and Oreti Rivers on Moa hunting and pounamu (greenstone) gathering expeditions.
European settlement commenced in the 1860s with initial farming attempts by Von Tunzelman. Stock deaths, snowstorms and lack of money eventually forced him off the land.
Following a quick succession of owners, Walter Peak Station was taken over in the late 1880s by the Mackenzies. This family is credited with developing many of the principles of successful high country farming during their 80 years working the property.
At its peak, the station was one of New Zealand’s most famous with 170,000 acres, 40,000 sheep and up to 50 fulltime employees. The original homestead block of Walter Peak Station is now known as Walter Peak High Country Farm.
Over time various permanent homes were established and these included the Colonel’s Homestead with its beautiful lakeside gardens. Originally built in 1902, it was carefully reconstructed in 1977 following an accidental fire.
2 cups plain flour
4 teaspoons of baking powder
¼ teaspoon of salt
50 grams of butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup grated tasty cheese
1 ½ cups of milk.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Then rub in the butter. Add the finely chopped onion and grated cheese. Mix to stiff dough by adding the milk. Turn out onto a floured surface, lightly knead and roll out to approximately 5 cm thick. Cut into pieces and place on floured tray and cook for 15 – 18 minutes at 200C. These are tasty fresh but leave for a day, slice in half and butter. Place some of the chopped onion and grated cheese mix on the top and grill.
2 tablespoons of sugar
2 cups plain flour
4 teaspoons of baking powder
¼ teaspoon of salt
2 cups of milk.
Beat together 2 eggs and 2 tablespoons of sugar until creamy. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix to a thick batter with approximately 2 cups of milk. Spoon onto a hot griddle, turn over when bubbles appear and cook until pikelets spring back when pressed. May be served buttered or decorated with cream and jam.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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).