TSS Earnslaw Steamship

Cruise in style across Lake Wakatipu, on this century-old steamship, which once carried Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

This historic steamboat has been servicing the people of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu for more than 100 years. Commissioned by New Zealand Railways at the beginning of the 20th century, the ship’s parts were built in Dunedin before being transported by train to the lake, where it was assembled and has remained ever since. Today the ship operates 11 months of the year ferrying passengers between Queenstown and Walter Peak High Country Farm, as well as giving scenic cruises on Lake Wakatipu.

Board the regal ship at Steamer Wharf in Queenstown at one of three daily departure times. The ship was refurbished in 1986 and its bright red funnel is regularly seen moving slowly across the lake. The refurbishments made the TSS Earnslaw fit for a queen, literally. In 1990 Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip enjoyed a royal cruise on the elegant steamship.

As you cruise Lake Wakatipu, watch as stokers fuel the ship’s engine by shoveling fuel into its fire. The 90-minute scenic trips are educational as well as picturesque, and you will learn much about the history of the ship and the local area.

Relax with a glass of local wine from the licensed on board, or enjoy a picnic lunch on the ship’s deck. Trips can be combined with a visit to the working sheep and cattle farm at Walter Peak, where a station tour, horse-riding trek and a barbecue lunch are available.

While indoor sections of the TSS Earnslaw have views of the water, Lake Wakatipu is best experienced from the top of the boat. Weather conditions can change quickly on the lake so remember to bring a warm jacket and non-slip shoes.

The TSS Earnslaw departs from Steamer Wharf in Queenstown daily, but undergoes maintenance for one month of the year. Visitors are advised to check with the operators to ensure the ship is active during your stay. There is a fee to board the boat, and this can be combined with your visit to the Walter Peak High Country Farm. There is ample free parking at the wharf