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TSS Earnslaw steams to 101 years of service

18 October 2013

TSS Earnslaw steams to 101 years of service

Queenstown and New Zealand tourism icon the TSS Earnslaw celebrated her 101st birthday with a special Frankton Arm cruise today and a strong assertion from Real Journeys boss Richard Lauder that the company has every intention of having the vessel on Lake Wakatipu for another 100 years.

Believed to be the only coal-fired passenger carrying steam-ship still in operation in the Southern Hemisphere, the “Lady of the Lake” as she is affectionately known is the first and only vessel in New Zealand to be given heritage status by a local council.

In the past year she has clocked up 40,000kilometres and 3,500hours which Lauder says is impressive given her age and the fact that she’s operated using traditional techniques.

“Real Journeys is dedicated to the on-going preservation and operation of the TSS Earnslaw, our founders Les and Olive Hutchins saved her from being scuttled by the Government in the late 60’s, she is a magnificent vessel and one of the few engineering examples of her kind left in the world.

“It is our intention that the TSS Earnslaw remains in service for the next 100 years,” says Lauder.

In 2012 Real Journeys invested around $1Million in refurbishing the TSS Earnslaw in preparation for her centenary celebrations.

Lauder says that whilst the TSS Earnslaw requires more maintenance and investment than your average catamaran, the benefits she offers far outweigh the cost.

“Thousands of visitors world-wide, including royalty and international dignitaries, have travelled on the TSS Earnslaw. We are finding that increasingly people are attracted to the heritage aspect and the unique experience that a trip on the TSS Earnslaw offers,” says Lauder.

The TSS Earnslaw crosses Lake Wakatipu multiple times daily to connect with Walter Peak High Country Farm where Real Journeys offers a newly revamped gourmet BBQ lunch or dinner option and an internationally renowned farm show experience as well as morning and afternoon tea options.

Lauder says the upgrade to the facilities and menu at Walter Peak is impressive and representative of the importance Real Journeys places on the TSS Earnslaw and Walter Peak operations.

“We want to make Walter Peak a place Queenstowners frequent because of the food and the setting, a place they rate highly enough to recommend to visitors as a ‘must do’. Our new Executive Chef is already doing a fantastic job of focusing the menu on fresh produce and quality meats that make it an authentic New Zealand experience.

“Combine this with a trip on the TSS Earnslaw and really you’ve got one of the best experiences around,” says Lauder.

Real Journeys invited senior citizens homes from around the Wakatipu on the TSS Earnslaw 101st birthday cruise, for a gold coin donation to St John. A TSS Earnslaw model competition was also held with local primary schools with the winning classes from Arrowtown School and Queenstown Primary joining the cruise. Real Journeys founder Olive Lady Hutchins was also in attendance, doing the honours and cutting the birthday cake.


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