TSS Earnslaw heads off on Survey


8 May 2015

Queenstown’s TSS Earnslaw heads on her annual survey next week, after being awarded a Qualmark Enviro Silver, (New Zealand tourism’s official mark of quality).  Silver represents exceptional levels of resource management and social responsibility. 

The ‘Lady of the Lake’ received the award because of key initiatives that have been put in place to minimise the smoke and emissions from the 102-year-old steamship.

The initiatives include switching to a harder premium coal from Southland that results in reduced emissions along with less ash, and bringing in a consultant boiler engineer to optimise the coal stoking procedure so the fire boxes are kept at optimum temperature for the engines to perform well – also lowering the emissions and smoke. 

“We’re absolutely delighted that the Earnslaw received the Enviro Silver this year.  Working with the oldest coal-fired passenger-carrying steamship in the Southern Hemisphere does have its limitations but we’ve made every effort to ensure she operates with as minimal impact as possible,” says Real Journeys Chief Executive Richard Lauder.

The Earnslaw will be stripped down for maintenance on Monday and leaves Steamer Wharf for Kelvin Heights at around 8am on Wednesday 13 May.

Two of Real Journeys original Fiordlander class vessels will continue to take visitors to Walter Peak until she returns to service on 29 June.

A section of the Earnslaw’s hull plating and framing around the propeller area will be replaced this year, as will the high pressure piston cylinders and rings on both of the main engines. 

Another focus this year is on future-proofing and experts are being flown in from Christchurch to conduct spot testing on the hull and framing.  The hull will be sectioned into one metre grids so it can be inspected in close detail and sonar scans will be made on any areas requiring attention.

“The older the Earnslaw gets the more remarkable she becomes as a New Zealand tourism icon.  She’s weathered the last 100 years really well but we want to ensure she lasts another 100 years so we’re being very proactive and making sure we give the old steamship every care and attention she needs,” says Richard.

Over twenty Real Journeys staff and specialist contractors will be working on the steamship for the next five weeks.

Preparation for the Earnslaw’s survey has been under way for the last year.  Rotten hardwood on the slipway at Kelvin Heights had to be replaced by concrete and steel and the historic 122-year-old paddle steamer PS Antrim’s engines, (used to winch the Earnslaw up the slipway) also had some maintenance.


Please note for safety reasons the slipway at Kelvin Heights will be a closed and fenced worksite.

For further information contact:

Tsehai Tiffin - Real Journeys Corporate Communications Manager
Mobile: +64 21 523 899