Lake trip, sheepdogs … and scones


Boat trips aren’t my ideal Saturday afternoon so I wasn’t filled with touristy joy about my TSS Earnslaw cruise. 

That is, until I learnt about the farm tour and afternoon tea on the other side of the lake. 

The vintage steamship Earnslaw, launched in 1912, is an iconic feature of Lake Wakatipu and I can see why. 

As her black smoke billows overhead and stokers shovel coal down in the engine room, there’s a real sense of history here. 

Apart from all the passengers’ iPads and digital cameras, it’s like sailing back in time. 

Ten minutes out from Steamer Wharf, we’re told there’s going to be a sing-along. I check to see if we’re too far from town to swim back. We are. 

Yet I’m soon humming along to the jazz standards which, I have to admit, give the voyage even more atmosphere. 

The views are staggeringly beautiful and I’m too mesmerised for sea-sickness. Forty-five minutes later on the Walter Peak farm tour, we’re introduced to highland cattle, fawns, merino sheep and snobby alpacas. 

Friendly and informative guide Peter answers kids’ questions, gives us food for the animals and jokes about stag antlers and aphrodisiacs. The afternoon tea makes for the most refined farm experience imaginable. I count over seven kinds of pastry and scoff scones before the sheep shearing. 

Seeing Peter wrestle sheep to the ground is more exciting than I imagined and there are soon bits of merino wool everywhere. 

Peter tells us gun shearers do 350 sheep in an eight-hour day. Sheep dogs rounding up their flock is the best part, however. 

If you want a gentle, family-friendly and scenic afternoon with a steamship, sheep shearing and scones, this is a 
great combination.

All you need to know
What Earnslaw cruise plus Walter Peak farm tour
Where Steamer Wharf, Queenstown Bay
Cost Adult $75, child $22
Thrill-o-meter 5/10