New Queenstown tourist boat arrives on lake

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Queenstown’s newest tourist attraction has arrived.

Multi-million dollar catamaran Spirit of Queenstown glided into Queenstown bay at 3pm this afternoon (main picture), flanked by two jet boats.

The 150-seat Southern Discoveries vessel was craned into the lake at Kingston yesterday before the journey.

Built in Brisbane, Spirit of Queenstown crossed the Tasman Sea in three-and-a-half days before being partially dismantled and trucked from Bluff, Southland, on Tuesday.

Skipper Richard Moore (bottom left), who’s worked on Milford Sound for 23 years, says: “She’s a real little ship.

“She’s built for the ocean and we’ve brought her over from Australia with no problem at all so she’ll handle the lake, even though a lake can surprise at times.”

The 51-ton purpose-built catamaran is moored at O’Regan’s Wharf and will begin trips to Mt Nicholas Station later this year – rivalling Real Journey’s century-old Lady of the Lake the TSS Earnslaw. The trips will include woolshed tours, country walks and cycling tours.

Southern Discoveries is part of the $100m Skegg’s family business.

Founder Sir Clifford Skeggs and son David (bottom right), who runs the firm with his brothers, were on-board as the Spirit of Queenstown made her maiden voyage on Lake Wakatipu.

David Skeggs says: “We’re absolutely delighted and very excited for the new venture on the lake later this year.

“I’ve come in from Kingston this morning and she’s smooth as anything, like driving a car.”

Final touches to the interior of the 26-metre long high-speed catamaran will be completed over the coming weeks.