Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Great Trips – New Zealand VI

The morning after our arrival in Queenstown on the South Island of New Zealand, we had to decide what we should do next.  We were staying here a couple of days so we had some time to explore the area.  There we were, in a great little town, surrounded by mountains and fronting on a big beautiful lake.  So we decided to go for the most obvious tourist experience…a boat ride!

This is a photo of the Twin-screw Steamer Earnslaw on Lake Wakatipu at Queenstown.  The Earnslaw is 168 feet long, with a beam of 24 feet.  She still has her original twin coal-fired triple expansion jet condensing vertical marine engines with 2 locomotive type boilers...and for the mechanically inclined, they are open for viewing while underway.
This is the TSS Earnslaw on the morning of our excursion… This ship was built in 1912 and she’s been declared a ‘Historic Place’ under New Zealand’s Historic Places Act.  This means that she’ll be protected and preserved even after she is deemed no longer seaworthy.  

When we took our tour in 2000, she was already 88 years old…now she’s over 100 years old and she’s still in operation!  I also think that it’s noteworthy that the Earnslaw is the only remaining commercial passenger-carrying coal-fired steamship remaining in active service in the Southern Hemisphere!
It was a beautiful day for a boat ride.  Two of the reasons that the Earnslaw is still operating is that the waters of Lake Wakatipu are so pure and the atmosphere of the South Island is remarkably clean.

The ship was originally configured to carry up to 1,035 passengers and 100 tons of cargo plus 1500 sheep or 200 bales of wool or 70 head of cattle.  Back in the early days, the most direct road to the area ended in Kingston at the south end of the lake.  Almost everything was transported from Kingston to Queensland and the many sheep farms or ‘runs’ around this lake via boat… There was enough business that several steamers were operating in earlier times. 
This was one of the views of the passengers and the stunning scenery…the Remarkables mountain range virtually surrounds the lake.  The lake is almost “S” shaped and its 50 miles long by no more than 3 miles wide.  As I mentioned earlier, Kingston is at the south end of the lake…and the town of Glenorchy lies at the north end of the lake.

The surface area of Lake Wakatipu is over 112 square miles.  The average depth of the lake is 750 feet but at its deepest point, the lake bottoms out at 1,380 feet!
Laurie took this photo of clouds over the Remarkable Mountains on the shores of Lake Wakatipu.  In its journeys around the lake, the Earnslaw regularly crosses the 45th meridian…which is the halfway point between the Equator and the South Pole.
Today, cruises on the Earnslaw as well as many other tourist attractions are operated by a company named Real Journeys…formerly named Fiordland Travel. 

This is the Walter Peak High Country Farm and restaurant.  When we took the trip back in 2000, this place was called the Walter Peak Sheep Farm and restaurant.  We didn’t buy the package…just took the boat ride.  It was probably a matter of time or timing.  For those who might be interested in the total package, you can tie the boat ride with a walking tour of the sheep farm, feed the sheep and getting close to deer and Scottish cattle.  There are also herding dogs in action as well as sheep shearing.  For more information, go to
Ahhh…here he is!  Captain Dave at the helm… I started thinking as I looked at this photo for the first time in several years...I still own that shirt and hat!
Can you believe it!  Here I ‘caught’ Laurie flirting with the Captain of the Earnslaw… She wasn’t even embarrassed!
Nothing went too quickly while one is cruising along on the Earnslaw.  Typically, she steams along at about 12 knots.  If you let your imagination go, you might be able to go back in time and envision sheep herders going to town, a few hundred head of sheep below deck along with cargo and perhaps a few bales of wool.  Queenstown lies dead ahead…
I ‘borrowed’ this photo of The TSS Earnslaw steaming across Lake Wakatipu from the Internet… It was just too spectacular to pass up.  Just looking at this picture, it’s not hard to envision the Earnslaw as an Amazon River boat in 2008’s movie, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”.   I can also see the King and Queen of Belgium on the foredeck during a state visit…or even better, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip reviewing a portion of the British Commonwealth!

Our next New Zealand adventure was much more exciting and speed was the key…coming up in Chapter VII...
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by and enjoying a day on Lake Wakatipu!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. I love that picture of Laurie, you look beautiful!

  2. Fine looking old boat. I believe I still have some ties from college.

  3. what beautiful pictures David!you look really nice like Cap LOL and Laurie look beautiful (tell her:))

  4. The lake must be huge! Your photos are just lovely. You must have really enjoyed this holiday. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  5. What a great boat. You both look like you were having a great time, especially Laurie. lol!

  6. Forgot to say---another 10" snow here a couple of days ago. I can imagine how much you miss it and I can't wait to see dirt! And ----I hope you are recuperating well and feeling good!