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TSS Earnslaw Lake Cruises

It’s one of the best ways to see Queenstown’s surrounding landscape – a cruise across Lake Whakatipu aboard the iconic century-old coal-fired steamship, the TSS Earnslaw.

The TSS Earsnlaw has been lovingly maintained since 1912 and is iconic piece of Queenstown's history. Take time to explore the vessel, view the engine room, and study the historic displays of the steamship's former life. 

Your trip will take you across the lake, past the Remarkables mountain range and  Cecil Peak to Walter Peak High Country Farm. You can choose to add a Walter Peak Farm Tour or our famous gourmet long lunch, or cruise back to Queenstown Bay. 

$70 per adult | $35 per child

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It’s New Zealand’s most iconic boat and one of Queenstown’s most historic destinations.

The leisurely 90 minute cruise across Lake Wakatipu showcases some of Queenstown’s spectacular alpine scenery while offering you plenty of time to explore a piece of Queenstown’s living history – the over one hundred year-old TSS Earnslaw.

Inside a visit to the engine room reveals the giant steam engines at work. Close by you’ll be able to view the collection of historical photos in our mini-museum, check out the bridge or, if you’d rather, kick back and enjoy a wine or beer or some café food at our on-board Promenade Café and Bar.

Cruises depart regularly throughout the day. You can choose to undertake just the cruise, or combine it with a visit to Walter Peak High Country Farm for a guided farm tour, horse trek, independent cyclinggourmet barbecue lunch or dinner

The TSS Earnslaw has carried many a famous visitor, including Queen Elizabeth, Prince Phillip and even President Bill Clinton. Undoubtedly, this iconic tour is one not to miss.

Things you should know

  • There’s a Promenade Café with delicious food and a licensed bar on board
  • You can combine a cruise with a variety of activities at Walter Peak, including a guided farm tour, or a gourmet barbecue lunch or dinner

Extra information

  • The lake cruise is suitable for all ages.
  • Please note: The TSS Earnslaw undergoes annual maintenance each year (29 May - 1 July 2022) and does not operate during this time.

Departure Location

RealNZ Visitor Centre, Steamer Wharf, 88 Beach Street, Queenstown.

What to bring

  • Shoes/boots (non-slip)
  • Warm clothing/jacket
  • Sunscreen/sunglasses
  • Camera

About the TSS Earnslaw

TSS Earnslaw Vintage Steamship, 1912

The TSS Earnslaw is an integral part of Queenstown’s pioneering history and to this day a Queenstown icon.

She was commissioned by New Zealand Railways to service the communities around Lake Wakatipu. Launched in the same year as the Titanic, the TSS Earnslaw’s maiden voyage was on 18 October 1912. 

Known as The Lady of the Lake, she provided an essential link between the isolated farming communities along the lake and the outside world.  At 48 metres long, she was the biggest boat on the lake and carried passengers, sheep, cattle, mail and supplies. 

Nearly scrapped in 1968, she was rescued and purchased by RealNZ and put to work once again carrying passengers around the Lake. Since then the TSS Earnslaw has been painstakingly restored to its original condition – everything you see is pretty much like it was 100 years ago. Today, the TSS Earnslaw is the only hand-fired, commercial passenger-carrying steamship in operation in the southern hemisphere, making her one of the most unique experiences in the world. 

The TSS Earnslaw has featured in several movies including a cameo in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as an Amazon River Boat. Parts of the trawler SS Venture in Peter Jackson’s King Kong were inspired by the TSS Earnslaw. Famous composer Ron Goodwin composed a piece of music inspired by the rhythm of the TSS Earnslaw’s engines.

Behind the Scenes of the TSS Earnslaw Steamship Survey

FAQs

In case you haven't found the information you were looking for, we've put together some of the most common questions our customers ask about our trips. If you need more specific answers, please contact us directly.

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