After seeing the sparkling waters of Lake Wakatipu from Queenstown, you’ll probably be keen to get out on the water. There are several to choose from — we did the TSS Earnslaw cruise with a buffet lunch at Walter Peak Station. This is what we saw (and what we ate).
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Note: We paid our own way on this trip.
The TSS Earnslaw
The TSS Earnslaw is an old steamboat which has been cruising Lake Wakatipu for over 100 years. It was built in 1912 — a very impressive piece of old-world engineering.
It seems a bit strange to be promoting a coal-powered boat trip in this day and age. Apparently the company that runs it is investigating carbon neutral ways of powering it. I read that it currently contributes 1% of transport related greenhouse gas emissions in the Queenstown Lakes District — which I guess means there are plenty of other offenders in this space that don’t have the historical significance and iconic status that the Earnslaw enjoys. Still though, the quicker they make it cleaner the better!
The Earnslaw makes for a good photography subject too — hopefully you see it drifting into port while you’re exploring the beaches close to Queenstown.
Earnslaw Cruise on Lake Wakatipu
The Earnslaw moors at Steamer Wharf and travels down Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Station. It takes around an hour, and on a nice day the views are stunning. You’ll see heaps of mountains towering over high-country stations.
READ MORE: 15 Fun Things to Do in Queenstown
You’ll want to be out on the front deck for the best views — luckily the boat is slow so it doesn’t get too cold and windy up there.
It’s also fun to check out the engine room. There are viewing areas where you can see all the ins and outs of the historic steam engine — the kids will love it as well. Also check out the small museum onboard.
Lunch at Walter Peak Station
If you’re going to splash out on a buffet meal in Queenstown, or anywhere in New Zealand, this is a hard option to beat. You can do it for lunch or dinner in the summer (until late March) or lunch outside of the warmer months.
You’ll be feasting on some of the best locally sourced meat in New Zealand, including perfectly cooked lamb, steak, and pork. You can really go to town on it too — don’t fill up on bread and salad! There are plenty of non-meat side dishes, but I reckon if you’re vegetarian you wouldn’t get your money’s worth.
After eating lunch there are a couple of options. You can see the farm show, which mostly consists of cute farm dogs doing chores, as well as some information on Walter Peak Station.
You could also walk to Beach Point (around 30 mins return) or chill out by the lawns and gardens near the restaurant. There’s also the obligatory gift shop.
Do You Have to Do the Lunch and Farm Show?
Nope — you can just do the boat ride there and back, although it seems like you can’t even get off the boat for five minutes or so at Walter Peak Station. Still though, if you just want to cruise down the lake and back it’s a solid option. You can also do horse trekking there.
Where to Book the TSS Earnslaw Cruise
Here’s where you can book the TSS Earnslaw Cruise & Walter Peak Gourmet BBQ Lunch. I reckon it’s great value if you’re doing the boat trip anyway, especially if you eat to the best of your potential. I probably ate four times my normal lunch amount! Alternatively, you can book the TSS Earnslaw 1.5 Hour Cruise. If you prefer to book directly, you can visit the Real NZ website. It often sells out quick so you might need to book in advance if visiting Queenstown over the summer.
Are you planning a trip to New Zealand? Check out our South Island itinerary!
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