Steamship to cut back on smoking

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The company behind Queenstown’s historic steamship attraction – facing recent emissions complaints – is promising to make it less smoky.
 
Real Journeys, which operates major tourist drawcard the TSS Earnslaw plans to use an upcoming annual maintenance check to try and reduce black smoke belched out by its coal-fired engines. 

Real Journeys chief executive Richard Lauder says the company’s aware of recent feedback regarding smoke emissions and will use the survey period to look at improvements. 

“The Earnslaw is a heritage steamship running her original coal fired boilers, so there will always be smoke. 

“But as part of the survey we’re reviewing all of the mechanical, procedural, handling and boiler issues that influence the quality of the stack discharge, and will hopefully make some improvements which should assist.” 

It’ll be welcome news to some tourists who complain about the emissions from the hugely-popular Earnslaw, which celebrated its centenary with a re-enactment cruise last October. 

Last month, Mountain Scene received letters by two separate American tourists complaining. 

Californian Pat Swaney said after a month in the South Island with her husband they were dumbfounded by the emissions: “Later that day we ate a meal at an outdoor restaurant near the pier, and the wind blew this foul-smelling smoke around us. Not only is it unconscionable to pollute the air in such a way, it’s a complete turn-off for visitors.” 

Michigan visitor Bob Dunn wondered how it could be allowed in “such a pristine area”. 

In reply, published for the first time today in Mountain Scene, Real Journeys director and Earnslaw guardian Tony McQuilkin admits depending on wind and weather, emissions can look “unsightly”. 

“But please be assured we do our absolute best to minimise such impacts without compromising the fundamental nature of the steamship,” adding it’s been integral to Queenstown for 100 years. 

The Earnslaw, lovingly dubbed the Lady of the Lake, goes into survey this coming Monday and will remain wharf side until June 28. 

The steamer first launched on the lake in February, 1912, making its maiden passenger voyage in October that same year. Operating nowadays solely as a tourist steamer, it carries a whopping 150,000 people across Lake Wakatipu annually.