The TSS Earnslaw, known as the “Lady of the Lake,” is believed to be the oldest working coal-fired steamship in the Southern Hemisphere. Named after Mount Earnslaw (the highest peak in the region), she is 168 feet in length, 24 feet across the beam and weighs 330 tons.
Originally built in Dunedin, the TSS Earnslaw was dismantled and transported by rail to Kingston at Lake Wakatipu’s southern tip for reassembly and launching.
She now makes several trips daily across the lake, transporting guests from Queenstown to Walter Peak High Country Farm.
This historic settlement still functions as a ranch, and offers sheep herding and shearing demonstrations. Traditional morning or afternoon tea are served at the Colonel’s Homestead, where guests can enjoy the beautiful gardens and a view of the lake before returning by ship to Queenstown. From my journal:
The trip to Walter Peak Sheep and Cattle Station via TSS Earnslaw was absolutely delightful!
The voyage lasted about 30 minutes, affording some stunning views (and photos) of the Remarkables and the surrounding peaks and mountains. Once we arrived at the Homestead, we were given a tour of this working station [farm], fed the red deer, saw Highland cattle, and watched the Border Collie herd the sheep.
We also had a demonstration of sheep shearing,
and we were served afternoon tea, which included cinnamon bread, cheese bread, cream-topped mini pancakes, and tea or coffee. The whole experience was absolutely delightful, including the sing-along on the way back to Queenstown!
The TSS Earnslaw is mostly wheelchair-accessible, although the engine-room is only reachable by stairs. The ship’s ramp allows guests to disembark and then reboard. Walter Peak High Country Farm has accessible walkways throughout.