10 Days in the South Island Day 9

The sun on The Remarkables - taken from Pepper's Beacon

10 Days in the South Island Day 9 - Queenstown

It's another crisp morning and I head back to our apartment after my morning walk.

View from inside apartment at Pepper's Beacon

A cooked breakfast and a coffee are waiting (I'm a lucky man) and we sit to eat, looking over Lake Wakatipu from our apartment at Pepper's Beacon.

The advantages of staying in a fully self contained apartment cannot be underestimated, and we certainly appreciate the full kitchen, washer and dryer. Our two bedroom apartment is very spacious and as mentioned, the views are to die for.

Over breakfast we plan our day and decide that we will take a cruise on the historic steamship, the TSS Earnslaw.

The TSS Earnslaw at dock in Queenstown

This historic steamer was built in 1911 in Dunedin, then dis-assembled and transported in pieces to Kinston, at the head of Lake Wakatipu, where it was reconstructed and launched in 1912. In the early days she was used to transport supplies and livestock around the lake. These days though the majority of her passengers are paying customers, just like us, looking to experience this awesome landscape from a different perspective. From our apartment it's about a three minute walk down town to the wharf.

We choose the basic 90 minute cruise which will take us up the lake to the Walter Peak High Country Farm. Our tickets don't allow us to disembark at the farm, but you can also purchase tickets that include a farm tour and horse trek, and lunch or dinner at the farm.

The TSS Earnslaw docks at Walter Peak High Country Farm

After buying our tickets we are ushered onboard the Earnslaw. Inside it's surprisingly spacious, with two decks, a central cafe, toilets, a small museum, and a platform that takes you through the engine room. There are also several external viewing decks which are the best spots to take pictures from.

We grab a table next to the window as she pulls away from the wharf. Progress is very calm and serene as the Earnslaw makes her way up the lake. On the way we pass our apartment and take a few snaps.

The trip to Walter Peak High Country Farm takes around 30 minutes but along the way we are up and down from our seats, taking pictures, and visiting the engine room and the museum.

Walter Peak High Country Farm

Fortunately we fit in enough time for an excellent coffee and fresh muffin, and it's just so relaxing sitting back watching the world go by.

When we arrive at the farm, we dock, and those passengers that have purchased farm tours hop off, then we collect more passengers that are heading back to town.

The whole process takes around 20 minutes and we are soon underway back to Queenstown.

At this time of the year (Autumn) the region is at it's best. The mountains are covered in snow and the scenery is as good as anywhere in the world.

On the way back we head down one end of the ship and meet the piano player (who takes requests) and sit down while he plays a few old favorites.

Any requests? Live music on the TSS Earnslaw

A quick visit to the engine room reveals huge coal powered engines and the viewing decks allow you to watch as the crew shovel coal into the furnaces. Nothing much has changed in the 104 years since the Earnslaw was launched.

We also have a look in the museum which details the history of the ship through a series of story boards and pictures.

Before long we approach the wharf at Queenstown. What a great trip. Next time we come to Queenstown we might try the BBQ lunch or dinner. We have heard they are both excellent.

A cruise on the TSS Earnslaw is highly recommended. To read what others had to say about their experience, or to make bookings, please follow these links:

  • TSS Earnslaw 90 minute cruise only click here
  • TSS Earnslaw cruise and dinner at Walter Peak farm click here
  • TSS Earnslaw cruise and BBQ lunch at Walter Peak farm click here
  • TSS Earnslaw cruise and farm tour at Walter Peak farm click here
The museum on the TSS Earnslaw

Satisfied with our cruise, we take the short walk back to our apartment for a freshen up and short break.

We then decide that we will head out along the road towards Cromwell to the Kawarau Gorge and the AJ Hackett bungy site.

This is where bungy started and, many years back Kim and I both jumped off the famous old bridge. What an awesome experience.

Today though, we were just going for a look, and to cheer on some jumpers.

The business has grown enormously over the years and now has sites around the world in places such as Germany, the United States, France, Australia and Mexico. There are several different sites in Queenstown alone.

The old Kawarau Gorge bridge near Queenstown, home of AJ Hackett bungy.

Today there is a large crowd of onlookers, all ready to offer support to each nervous jumper. A young woman we watch decides it's all too much and changes her mind (no refunds) before a teenage guy steps up to the edge, waves, and launches himself off the platform. The crowd cheers as he plummets down, then bounces back up and down several times.

If you have always wanted to bungy, we can highly recommend it. The adrenaline rush is amazing. The only word of advice that we would offer, is if you are considering a jump, don't think about it for too long, because you will find a thousand reasons to talk yourself out of it. Just do it!

You can learn more about the various bungy sites in Queenstown, read reviews, and make bookings by clicking on the following links:

After an hour or so we head back towards Queenstown, detouring for lunch at Arrowtown.

Historic Arrowtown - pic courtesy Miles Holden

This historic village was born from the gold mining boom in the mid 1800's, and retains many of the original buildings of the era.

It's a beat little spot with a range of restaurants, cafes, pubs, galleries and shops. There is also an excellent museum that chronicles the history of the area, highlighting just how hard it must have been for the early pioneers.

We stop at the bakery for a local meat pie, sausage roll and a drink.

Full after our lunch we head back to our apartment for an afternoon siesta before dinner.

Queenstown's Pub on Wharf - pic courtesy Pub on Wharf

It's the last night of our holiday so we decide to eat out. Queenstown has over 100 bars, pubs and restaurants, so the choice is huge.

We decide on some pub food and around 6pm we walk down town to the wharf to an old favorite of ours, the aptly named "Pub on Wharf".

At the time of writing, the Pub on Wharf boasted a menu with "no meals over $20". The choice is excellent with dishes such as "3 Hour Slow Cooked Beef", "Atlantic Salmon", "Pork Belly", "Beef Wellington" and "Smoked Fish Pie".

The downside, as with a lot of places in Queenstown, is that drinks can be expensive.

Our four meals cost $80, whilst two pints of beer and a bottle of wine cost $65.

All up though, $145 for food and drinks for four is probably reasonable.

The meals were excellent and we can highly recommend the Pub on Wharf.

Around 8pm we headed back home for a relaxing evening before bed.

Unfortunately our South Island adventure was coming to an end.


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