TSS Earnslaw makes nostalgic journey to head of lake to mark centenary

Media Release

22 October 2012

The heritage steamer the TSS Earnslaw continued its 100th birthday celebrations during Labour Weekend, making a nostalgic journey tracing its original freight and passenger route to the Lake Wakatipu high country lakeside stations and Glenorchy on Sunday (October 21), attracting almost 300 people, many with strong links with the Head of the Lake and the TSS Earnslaw.

The TSS Earnslaw freight service was withdrawn in 1981 and passengers on the centenary high country station cruise had an insight into the operation when the steamship visited Walter Peak and Mount Nicholas, picking up wool bales and even loading a horse on to the bow of the steamship, demonstrating how the freight was winched on board.

Captain Graham Moore-Carter said “it went like clockwork and was a great opportunity for our crew to showcase the TSS Earnslaw as an original working boat. We had coal stacked on the decks, just as they used to, so we had plenty of resource to make the round trip”.

After leaving Mount Nicholas the steamer passed Elfin Bay, Greenstone and Kinloch stations blasting her horn, just as she did one hundred years ago, to alert run holders she was arriving. On the final leg of the excursion she steamed towards Glenorchy where she berthed at the wharf for the first time in 18 years.

“We last came to Glenorchy bringing passengers to the annual race day in January 1994,” said Captain Moore-Carter. “Coming to the Head of the Lake is a fantastic way to help celebrate the Lady of the Lake’s centenary.”

Glenorchy, celebrating the 150thanniversary of the settlement at the Head of the Lake, turned out in force to welcome the steamer. When the passengers disembarked a special one hour residents’ cruise took 250 local people for a jaunt around the top end of the lake.

Real Journeys’ TSS Earnslaw Centenary Celebrations Manager Tracey Maclaren said the feedback was incredible.

“Glenorchy people loved the experience. We were fully booked for the cruise and families, in some cases three generations, took the opportunity to go on board. There was certainly lots of story swapping and reminiscing.”

During the weekend, along with other shorter cruises in Frankton Arm, a woolshed party at Mount Nicholas attracted 250 people and the eight day centenary celebrations concluded today (October 22) with more than 200 people attending a family fun day at Walter Peak.

While the highlight of the programme was the re-enactment of the TSS Earnslaw’s maiden passenger voyage from Kingston to Queenstown on her official birthday on October 18 Ms Maclaren said every centenary cruise had its own distinctive appeal.

“We have been quite overwhelmed by the feedback from people from all walks of life who have supported the centenary celebrations in spite of often quite adverse weather. It has been exciting for us to host so many people in her 100th year.”

Descendants of people associated with the TSS Earnslaw from its design , construction and launch in 1912 through to former skippers, engineers, stokers, deckhands and caterers made special trips from all over the world to be part of the celebrations along with steam enthusiasts and history buffs.

“All these people, along with our very supportive local community, were incredibly complimentary about the TSS Earnslaw and the work that has been done by Real Journeys to maintain her in her original condition,” said Ms Maclaren. “Some people returned three or four times to participate in different cruises and many adopted the period costume theme which helped create such a wonderful atmosphere throughout the celebrations.”

Photo credits: Jim Pollard.

For further information:

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