The TSS Earnslaw on Lake Wakatipu

In which we sail on the TSS Earnslaw

My motivation:

There aren’t many places that I’ve visited in New Zealand that my grandparents haven’t visited!

Anyway, we were really lucky that we managed to get some GrabOne vouchers for $30 per person to sail on the TSS Earnslaw on Lake Wakatipu a couple of weeks ago. The weather, as you can see from the video, was absolutely stunning, however still a little chilly once we set off to Walter’s Peak, our destination over the other side of Lake Wakatipu.

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Lake Wakatipu offers visitors to Queenstown stunning views of the surrounding mountains and peaks. In the middle of the lake you get a different perspective.

The lake was as calm as it could possibly be, as we cut through the water so smoothly. It surprised both Craig and I how fast we went, although once we headed to the engine room it was easy to see where the TSS Earnslaw was getting all her power from. The engineers were feeding her well with coal and the gauge was on “full steam ahead.” Perhaps it was so fast because the water was so calm?

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The video below also shows you how noisy it was in the engine room, but you also got a great view of the workings of the TSS Earnslaw which was fantastic to see and very educational. It was also a very quiet day so Craig could stare and be amazed for as long as he liked!

TSS Earnslaw is affectionally known as the “Lady of the Lake.” She is a twin screw steamer, built in 1912 in Dunedin on the east coast of New Zealand’s south island. I found a few fun facts about the TSS Earnslaw on the webpage dedicated to her:

  • Her capacity in 1912 was thus: maximum, 1,035 pax; cargo capacity, 100 tons (or 1,500 sheep, or 200 bales of wool, or 70 head of cattle)
  • She uses 1 tonne of coal every hour
  • TSS doesn’t stand for “The Steam Ship” as I believed it to be. In instead refers to the “twin screw steamship”
  • The TSS Earnslaw travels 1.5 times the Earth’s circumference each year!
  • She made an appearance in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in 2008 as an Amazon River boat – I for one will now watch this movie again to spot her!

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” Kenneth Grahame, Wind in the Willows.

I can definitely concur with this statement. An afternoon on the TSS Earnslaw was so relaxing. The water was so blue, the sun, so bright. We had great fun.

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Our destination across the lake was Walter Peak, where you could disembark and go on a farm tour. Although Craig and I decided that we wouldn’t on this trip, we may go back one day as I have heard that their lunches and dinners are pretty spectacular. It was nice to glimpse the edge of the farm from the TSS Earnslaw though and see the colonial buildings.

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As you can see, the waters of Lake Wakatipu are simply breathtaking. In more ways than one:

All too soon our 1.5 hour trip was over and we were back at Steamer Wharf.

We chose a great day, of great weather with a very low number of people on board. I’d highly recommend a trip out on Lake Wakatipu on the TSS Earnslaw.

What do you think of this beautiful steamship?

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Author: Bennett

2 years as an expat in China and now doing the same in New Zealand, Bennett sure likes to experience "slow travel!"

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  1. Steamship looks cool, but the lake is stunning! Great pics, and great to see you back around this neck of the woods (internet)!! 😀

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    • Thanks Tim – Lake Wakatipu is stunning, isn’t it?! I still can’t get over it.

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    • Thanks Laura – definitely a great experience in Queenstown. Just can’t get over the colour of the lake!

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  2. The water of the Walter Peak lake is simply amazing, I think last time I saw water so clear was probably in Thailand. Nice photos!

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    • It’s crazy the water here but I am in love with it! Thanks, Franca 🙂

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