Queenstown sits on the edge of the great Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand. And after the adventure on Bob’s Peak it was time to get out on the water and take in more of what was on offer. I will go onto the adventurous water activities shortly but this day was for relaxing and taking in the surroundings. What better way than on board one of only a handful of coal-fired steamships left in use on the planet. In fact the only coal-fired steamship in operation within the southern hemisphere.. The TSS Earnslaw.
The Earnslaw took her maiden voyage on the lake in 1912, transporting people, cattle and goods to various points on the lake and connecting with steam trains in the days before roads. Over 100 years later it is still going strong. Albeit for the benefit of tourists. A way to experience this wondrous New Zealand Alpine landscape from down right within the middle of the waterway. Steam away from Queenstown and escape for 90 minutes tranquility on board.
The nostalgia is plain to see as soon as you step aboard. There is a bar, a cafe and lots to find as you wander the decks. Rooms showing old photographs and memorabilia of the TSS Earnslaw in yesteryear. However a highlight is the ability to get to a viewpoint to watch the engines in action and even the guys working hard in the heat of the coal burners, shovels in hand making sure the power keeps going in the belly of the ship.
Out on deck it is hard to choose wether to be on the left or right as the view gets more and more expansive. The mountain ranges reach up and high on each side, a spectaculat way to view them. I kept thinking about getting out and hiking them next time I am over here… I could be there a very very long time
45 minutes in, the engines slow, and it is time for the halfway stop… This would be Walter Peak High Country Farm. A historic homestead to give a taste of history. If you are not on an immediate return trip or you have the day to spend here then there is never a chance to be idle or at a loss to do anything. Watch some traditional sheep shearing. Take a farm tour. Why not partake in a barbeque lunch. But then again there is the chance to get on a saddle on horse trek into this lovely landscape.
I must point out here that there is so much more around these parts for riding and on water… Dart Stables offers you to go beyond Glenorchy on horseback. What better way to travel over land featured in the Lord of The Rings films. On water there is of course more adrenalin pumping activity to combine with what you get ashore of course. A Jett and funyak safari – Across the lake and up the dart river by jet boat.. spins and speed up the river and canyon. Then in the calm of the gorgeous secluded river it is out of the power boats and into kayaks to paddle in paradise. Combined with a buffet lunch, away from it all, before speeding back that is one awesome day! If you are after even more water adventure then take on the white water rafting, woot!
I could see Queenstown appearing once more into view. Reflecting out of the turquoise clear water. Calmed, relaxed, senses fulfilled and history learnt and felt. Tip top!