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Look Closer at the TSS Earnslaw

Date: 11 October 2022

Get closer to the TSS Earnslaw through the people, places and experiences.

Bringing you closer to nature is our thing. When you’re so immersed in your environment you feel changed by it, it’s because of the people who enrich your journey, the destinations you’re discovering, and the transformative experiences created. Look closer and uncover the stories and moments that give visits to New Zealand’s amazing backyard even more power.

The TSS Earnslaw has been bringing people closer to nature since 1968. It’s full of moments of discovery, whether you’re exploring the shores of Walter Peak, learning the steamship’s history, or glimpsing Queenstown from a unique viewpoint.

A Skipper's Commitment

“If you stick at something long enough, then maybe one day you might get to drive the Earnslaw”, are apt words of advice from Ryan Hodges. Starting his time on the TSS Earnslaw as a vessel assistant, he’s so far committed to nine years of hard work on the heritage steamer and is now skipper and launch master. Asking him how he feels about it, he admitted “I do actually, I do feel proud of myself. The time is what people don’t see”. Passion, commitment, and care for his job are at the core and are ultimately what drives the steamer. But Ryan is right, we’re looking to the incredible nature of the destination he’s bringing us to.

Walter Peak's Fight

The bow of the boat is a powerful place. On your voyage across Lake Whakatipu leaving Queenstown, take a moment in the sunlight at the front of the steamship to look across to Walter Peak. This High-Country Farm has significance beyond a gourmet lunch spot. It’s become a symbol of places to protect, and not only because of the iconic, red-roofed homestead. It’s been a battlefield for years, with the people versus wilding pines. Once home to thousands of the biggest weeds in NZ, now sees thousands of native plantings, nourishing the land. So, when you look across to Walter Peak, experience it for its beauty, as well as its significant contribution to conserving New Zealand wildlife.

The Sound of Soul

While the heart of the TSS Earnslaw may be her fiery engine room, offering a rich historic experience aboard, the soul of the vessel is something else entirely. When you’re travelling aboard the steamship, you’re likely to find yourself singing along to a familiar tune, united with strangers by music, and feeling a release. The long-standing tradition of a pianist aboard the heritage vessel is the experience that frequently draws guests back, both international and domestic. Pull up a chair by the piano, clear your throat, and discover your voice aboard the TSS Earnslaw, with a whole group of unexpected friends, too.