The TSS Earnslaw is a coal-fired steam ship, the only one of its kind left in New Zealand. You can enjoy the views of the lake from the decks of this vintage steam ship, as it sails across Lake Wakatipu over to Walter Peak High Country Farm. A cruise can be combined with a visit to Walter Peak for a Heritage Tour, a guided farm tour, horse trek, barbeque lunch or evening dinner. I decided to take the Heritage Tour which involved taking the forty five minute cruise over to Walter Peak, getting a guided tour of the residence itself, wine tasting and a return trip back to Queenstown.
The sailing was at 4pm and I had a chance to have a look around the old ship itself, even the engine room, which is open to the public. Here you can see the coal being shovelled into the ovens, by hardworking stokers/boiler operators and see the pistons firing on all cylinders. When we disembarked, we were met by a guide called Kathy, who showed me and two other ladies around the grounds and residence.
The main building itself, the Colonels’ Homestead, is used nowadays for events like weddings and conferences. Hugh Mc Kenzie, from the west coast of Scotland, married an Irish girl called Anastasia Rossiter, moved over to New Zealand and lived in this house. Anastasia died of typhoid, after having eight children and Hugh married again and built a house, named Ardmore, for his second wife. The Woolshed burnt down thirty years ago, along with the Homestead but they rebuilt it as it was before the fire. After we’d seen the gardens, we went inside to the Homestead where we were shown slides with photos of the family, which I found interesting.
We were then brought into the bar area where we had a wine tasting, with most of the wines coming from around the local area. There were three wines which we tasted: a Pinot Gris, called Cooper’s Shed, a Riesling called Carrick and a Pinot Noir and to compliment the wines, there were aperitifs like cheese and biscuits, ham, walnuts, apricots, mussels, worst etc. It was delicious.
I told Kathy that I was trying to find work here in New Zealand in the tourism industry and she gave me the names of two people I could contact, which was very good of her. The boat came back for us at 6.45pm and we sailed back to Queenstown. I really enjoyed the tour. Kathy was a good guide and the two ladies who were on the tour with me, Angie and Diane, were very nice people.