TSS Earnslaw Centenary Celebrations kick off Sunday 14 October 2012

Media Release

11 October 2012

Past and present skippers, stokers, engineers, pianists and caterers will meet on board the TSS Earnslaw on Sunday October 14 to kick off the heritage steamer’s week long centenary celebrations which focus on a re-enactment of the maiden voyage from Kingston to Queenstown on October 18.

The TSS Earnslaw was constructed at Kingston and launched on February 24 1912 undertaking her first passenger excursion on October 18 1912 which is regarded as her official birthday.

Real Journeys has operated the steamship since 1969 and is marking her century of service with a varied programme kicking off with a staff reunion and culminating in a family fun day on October 22 at Walter Peak.

TSS Earnslaw Celebrations Manager Tracey Maclaren says the re-enactment cruise has attracted 350 people who will dress in period costume to authentically recreate the inaugural voyage. Among the guests will be direct descendants of naval architect Hugh McRae, the steamer’s designer, and foreman builder Jimmy Alcorn.

“The steamer will sail from Queenstown to Kingston where she will be met by the Kingston Flyer providing further nostalgic memories for the people on board. There will be a festive atmosphere in Kingston for the arrival then the steamer will set sail for Queenstown with flags flying.”

Ms Maclaren says the TSS Earnslaw’s arrival into Queenstown Bay will turn the clock back one hundred years.

“The steamer wharf will be crowded with people anxious for a sight of the steamship in all her glory, just as it was on October 18 1912. An estimated six hundred and fifty school children dressed in period costume and waving flags will be part of the scene, along with brass bands, a town crier, penny farthing cycles and vintage cars. The atmosphere will be incredible and we are urging everyone in Queenstown to come down and help us celebrate.”

The TSS Earnslaw will be accompanied by a flotilla of commercial boats when she sails into Queenstown Bay.

“Once she berths there will be official speeches recognising the Lady of the Lake’s grand old age and Olive Lady Hutchins, who with her husband the late Sir Les Hutchins founded Fiordland Travel Ltd which first leased and later purchased the steamship, will cut the centenary cake.”

Hour-long centenary cruises are planned in Frankton Arm on October 18, following the arrival of the TSS Earnslaw at Queenstown, to allow as many people as possible to travel on her on her official birthday.

A major excursion will be the high country station cruise on October 21 which will trace the historic freight and mail route followed by the TSS Earnslaw steaming past Walter Peak, Mount Nicholas, Elfin Bay and Greenstone Stations and Kinloch en route to Glenorchy.

On the steamer’s arrival at Glenorchy passengers will disembark while Glenorchy residents take a special cruise reminiscent of the days when the TSS Earnslaw operated a scheduled service to and from Glenorchy.

Other trips include Frankton Arm special cruises on October 15, 16 and 17, a seniors’ cruise on October 19 and brunch cruises on October 20. On October 21 a woolshed party at Mount Nicholas is planned featuring a high country hoedown.

Ms Maclaren has urged the community to become involved in the celebrations.

“There really is such a diverse programme and we want people to participate and feel part of what is such an historic occasion not only for the TSS Earnslaw but also Queenstown and New Zealand tourism.”

For the TSS Earnslaw Centenary programme of events (14 - 22 October 2012):

For further information:

Lenksa Papich - Real Journeys Marketing Communications Manager
Mob: +64 21 523 899