FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Steam on Lake Wakatipu

Posted in New Zealand, Queenstown by folkestonejack on December 31, 2015

One of the enduring delights of Queenstown is the sight of the 103 year old twin screw steamer TSS Earnshaw plying the waters of Lake Wakatipu, where she has long been known as the ‘lady of the lake’. It is a fitting label, for she was constructed on the lake and has spent her whole life crossing from shore to shore.

Today, as a tourist ship, she makes regular crossings between Steamer Wharf and Walter Peak High Country Farm for Real Journeys – not so very far removed from her early days transporting passengers, mail and cargo from the railway into Queenstown and to the country stations dotted around the lake.

TSS Earnshaw on Lake Wakatipu

TSS Earnshaw on Lake Wakatipu

TSS Earnshaw was originally constructed at the yard of John McGregor and Co in Dunedin, then dismantled and the parts numbered. The parts were then transported across the South Island by train (rather appropriate, given that she was commissioned by New Zealand Railways) and re-assembled at Kingston, on the shore of Lake Wakatipu. After the successful completion of her trials she steamed off on her maiden voyage on 18 October 1912. The next day was declared a public holiday so that locals could experience the new ship – not something you could ever imagine happening today!

The steamship has outlasted her sister ships on the lake (PS Antrim, PS Mountaineer and SS Ben Lomond) by quite some distance (she was the sole steamship on the lake by 1950) and is now the only coal fired steamship still in operation in the southern hemisphere.

You can see more about the history of TSS Earnshaw on the website of the New Zealand Maritime Record.

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A little scenery

Posted in New Zealand, Queenstown by folkestonejack on December 31, 2015

The last day of the year could hardly have delivered a more perfect finish to 2015 with beautiful blue skies, bright sunshine and temperatures a good ten degrees warmer than yesterday. Taking advantage of this, we made a small detour to take a look at the incredibly photogenic Lake Hayes before heading in to the centre of Queenstown. It was already pretty clear that scenic views are not in short supply here!

Lake Hayes

Lake Hayes

Queenstown has a well deserved reputation as the adventure capital of New Zealand, but it is equally suited to a relatively relaxed day out with a lovely mix of waterside restaurants, well tended green spaces (like the rather lovely Queenstown Gardens) and incredible viewpoints.

The waterside at Steamer Wharf boasts a diverse collection of restaurants, but we opted for one of the newest – The Public Kitchen. The restaurant served up some terrific fare (my crumbed pork schnitzel with grilled blue cheese & sage was quite splendid) and introduced us to the superb wine from the Gibbston Valley Winery. As a bonus we got a splendid view of the TSS Earnshaw berthing alongside the wharf as our lunch came to an all too early close.

One of the less obvious delights of Queenstown is the indoor mini-golf course at Caddyshack City, located near the base of the gondola. It had become something of a legend from the tales I had heard of its all round marvellousness over the years, but had to admit that it lived up to this entirely with its inventive layouts and quirky features (check out the pictures of the course on Tripadvisor to see just how wonderful these are).

The Remarkables

The Remarkables

In the afternoon we took a ride up the Skyline Gondola to get the view whilst the sun was illuminating it perfectly. I could have stayed an awfully long time on the platform up there looking down on to the astonishingly blue water of Lake Wakatipu and across to the Remarkables mountain range. If I had been feeling more adventurous I might have attempted one of the longer walks that lead to even more thrilling views, but this was quite beautiful enough for me!

The preparations for the evening concert and firework display were well under way as we headed back into town, but we decided that the calm of the Gibbston Valley was the place for us in the final hours of 2015. We didn’t have much luck finding a channel broadcasting the traditional fireworks from the Sky Tower so settled for a quiet toast with Monteith’s Summer Ale. Roll on 2016…

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