When we were researching our honeymoon activities, we stumbled across a cruise on a vintage steamship and dinner over at Walter peak High Country Farm. We knew instantly we had to participate in this activity.
The TSS Earnslaw is a 1912 Edwardian vintage twin screw steamer and is one of the oldest tourist attractions in Central Otago, spending her days in the waters of Lake Wakatipu. It is actually the only remaining commercial passenger-carrying coal-fired steamship in the southern hemisphere. Named after Mount Earnslaw, this ship was known as the Lady of the Lake; until 1968 where she was almost scrapped. Thankfully she was rescued and taken for a makeup in 1984 and in 2012 celebrated her centenary.
When we boarded TSS Earnslaw for our 90 minute cruise across Lake Wakatipu and the bar was open, and the weather was beautiful and we were feeling particularly loved-up because we were on a steamboat (!!!) and it was our honeymoon! How can you be anything but over-the-moon excited?! There was a gorgeous engine room you are able to see from inside the ship and there is also a series of historical photos available to view.
Lake Wakatipu has a sense of magic to it, its name comes from the original Māori word Whakatipu wai-māori and is 80km in length. At New Zealand’s longest lake it is also the third largest in the country. It’s sea level plunges to a maximum depth of 380metres and it is surrounded by absolutely beautiful mountains. The Remarkables mountain range lies along the south-eastern edge. You may have seen Lake Wakatipu as the Scottish Loch Ness in The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep and was the backdrop for several scenes in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
Walter Peak is a mountain located near Queensland and the TSS Earnslaw steamship takes you across the very beautiful Lake Wakatipu to the Walter Peak Country Farm. This Colonel Homestead is absolutely gorgeous, as the ship arrives you see the beautiful gardens, we were arriving on sunset and the view back across the Lake and towards Queenstown was so phenomenal.
The dining experience was also excellent, I am absolutely daydreaming about the food as I am writing this. We had a gourmet bbq dinner, the spread was amazing and it really highlights the New Zealand and local produce. There was also an amazing selection of desserts, cheeses, tea and coffee and a huge selection of drinks which you were able to purchase. You have assigned seating, we really liked having a table just for the two of us.
You then have time to explore the gardens, check out the shop or the art gallery before your journey back along the lake towards Queenstown. I went into a mild food coma and rested on G for the journey back across the lake. It was definitely one of my favourite nights in New Zealand. I would highly recommend it – it provides you with an amazing view and perspective of the lake as well. At one point we ended up with a very excited group of tourists who thought we had gotten engaged on the boat, we were celebrating our honeymoon though, so we took the congratulations and rolled with it!
You can book your Walter Peak Farm trip through Real Journeys:
We purchased our Walter Peak Gourmet BBQ Dinner with the TSS Earnslaw Cruise for $260NZD ($235 Aussie). It’s not overly cheap but it is three hours on a historic boat with access to a bar and a visit to one of the most beautiful little homesteads, the food is great and it is a really nice date-night out. We saw many couples, families, people with their Mum’s and large groups over there and honestly everyone appeared to be having a really nice time!
You can’t beat good food, good wine, a lake view, pretty gardens and twilight! Plus – have you ever seen a steam boat this beautiful?!
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