Queenstown Day 2; TSS Earnslaw and Shotover Jet

Queenstown Travel Blog

 › entry 17 of 23 › view all entries
TSS Earnslaw at Steamer Wharf in Queenstown

The view from the breakfast cafe at the Mercure Hotel is breathtaking.  You look out over Lake Wakatipu right at the Remarkables.  With the sun rising directly behind the mountains, it was truly spectacular.  I drank a couple of flat whites this morning while waiting for Mom and Dad to join me.  We were supposed to fly over to Milford Sound this morning, but the weather was "unsettled" so our reservation was moved to the next day.  On to Plan B!

Plan B started with us getting back into town and getting tickets on the TSS Earnslaw steamship that takes passengers across Lake Wakatipu.  We boarded a little before 10 and had a nice two hour cruise back and forth across the Lake.

The Remarkables enshrouded in cloud cover
  The Earnslaw was built in the early 1900's in Dunedin.  It was dismantled and shipped by rail in pieces to Queenstown, where it was reassembled and placed in service on Lake Wakatipu.  It is powered by twin screws from steam created in coal fired boilers still in  use today.  You can walk all over the boat and see the engine room, the men shoveling coal, and the steamers working hard to propel the boat across the lake.  In it's day, the Earnslaw was the way that farmers and ranchers around the lake got supplies, shipped their animals, etc. back and forth before roads were in the area.
Seagulls flying along side the Earnslaw
  I am told that Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip were passengers on the Earnslaw in 1990!

It was a clear day for the cruise and fairly warm, so it was pleasant to be outside as we cruised to the other end of the Lake.  I learned that Lake Wakatipu is the third largest lake in New Zealand and is over 1000 feet deep!  I cannot imagine how cold it must be at the bottom of the lake and what must be down that deep!  You can fish for Rainbow trout, German Brown trout and Chinook salmon in the Lake.  The turn around point on the cruise is at Walter Peak Station, a large sheep ranch.  You can get off here for horseback riding, barbeques and picnics, but we elected to return to Queenstown on the next run.

On the way back, we sat inside near the piano player.

Leaving Walter Peak Station
  He passed out song sheets and got the passengers to sing along as he played -- old songs like Clementine, Bicycle Built for Two, Waltzing Matilda and Deep in the Heart of Texas (played for me, as I was wearing a Texas t-shirt).   Mom and Dad loved it.  It helped that I was drinking beer I guess, as it made it pass quickly. 

We got back to Queenstown a little after noon, so we stopped at a place called Fat Gingers for lunch.  We all opted for bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches with avocado -- very tasty.  We also went back to Pog Mahone's to check out the Super Bowl which was being played back in the States on this day.    After a bit of American football and a beer, we headed out to another jet boat trip -- the Shotover Jet.  This ride is operated by the same company that does the Huka Jet on the North Island.

Shotover Jet Boat
  It's just south of Queenstown on the Shotover River.  The company has big buses that take you from Queentown out to their put in spot on the River.  It's a nice drive -- very scenic. 

We only had about a half a boat load of passengers this time, so the boat was much faster -- 85kph, so quite speedy.  We had a great Kiwi driver named Todd that had a very dry sense of humor.  Mom and Dad remembered how wet they got on the Huka, so both opted to sit near the middle of the boat this time and they put me on the edge.  It was a great, wild ride.  We did over ten 360 degree spins!  Todd really gave us our money's worth on this one.  About midway through the ride, it started to rain and going along as fast as we did, the rain drops were really pelting us hard!  I think I prefer this version over the Huka ride, as there are huge canyons that you run through here and the driver delights in getting you very close to the canyon walls.

Shotover Jet heading down river
  Definitely gets the adrenalin going!  Mom and Dad laughed a lot on this ride and really enjoyed it.  Definitely a must!

We bussed back to town and found a parking ticket on our car!  We had parked in a ten minute zone that day and none of us saw the sign.  That cost me $30 Kiwis!  Ugh.

Our next stop was the Kiwi Bird Park below the Gondola.  We got to see a Kiwi (hard to do because you have to be in almost complete darkness to see them -- they are nocturnal birds), tuataras (New Zealand's only native reptile), wood pigeons, rainbow trout, Kea parrots, and pukekos (another native bird).  Mom enjoyed it, but Dad was not real impressed.  I think we made him walk too much.

Mom wanted to see a Kiwi supermarket, so we checked one out.

Drenched at the end of the ride posing with our Shotover Driver, Todd
  It was fun to see how the Kiwi's shop for food.  We even found some dukka, an Indian spice and pistachio rub that you put on bread.  We had had it a couple of times already on our visit here and Mom and Dad loved it and wanted to take some home.  It was a good find!

We headed back to our hotel then and got cleaned up for dinner.  We had a great dinner at Wai (reviewed below) and got to sit outside on their patio right on the waterfront by the Lake.  It was a gorgeous night and a great meal.

 

shirlan says:
Yes the Shotover is a better 'scenery' ride. We will go on it again this year if there is snow because I think that it will make it even more spectacular.
It is interesting to check out mundane things like supermarkets. We love the crusty bread, olive oil & dukka. It is a nice treat. If we don't have the dukka, we have balsamic vinegar instead.
Posted on: Jun 04, 2008
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
TSS Earnslaw at Steamer Wharf in Q…
TSS Earnslaw at Steamer Wharf in …
The Remarkables enshrouded in clou…
The Remarkables enshrouded in clo…
Seagulls flying along side the Ear…
Seagulls flying along side the Ea…
Leaving Walter Peak Station
Leaving Walter Peak Station
Shotover Jet Boat
Shotover Jet Boat
Shotover Jet heading down river
Shotover Jet heading down river
Drenched at the end of the ride  p…
Drenched at the end of the ride …
Earnslaw Bridge
Earnslaw Bridge
View along Lake Wakatipu of our Ho…
View along Lake Wakatipu of our H…
On Deck with the Texas Flag
On Deck with the Texas Flag
More gulls
More gulls
All three of us on Deck
All three of us on Deck
More Gulls
More Gulls
One laned bridge over the Shotover…
One laned bridge over the Shotove…
Shotover Bridge
Shotover Bridge
Jet boat returning back up river
Jet boat returning back up river
Jet Boat approaching
Jet Boat approaching
Tuatara Lizard
Tuatara Lizard
Kea Parrot, native of New Zealand
Kea Parrot, native of New Zealand
Wood Duck nestled in for a nap
Wood Duck nestled in for a nap
Queenstown Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Waterfront Dining in Queenstown
Wai Restaurant has a breaktaking view from Steamer's Wharf right on the waterfront for Lake Wakatipu and out over the Remarkables. The Remarkables ar… read entire review
Queenstown Sights & Attractions review
Jet Boating on the Shotover River
It's billed as the world's most exciting Jet Boat Ride -- and I believe it. The Shotover River is a short ten minute drive from Queenstown and the se… read entire review
Queenstown
photo by: genetravelling