One of the most unique experiences you can do in Queenstown is the famous TSS Earnslaw Dinner Cruise.

This tour takes you on the iconic TSS Earnslaw Steamship which is, in fact, the only remaining commercial passenger-carrying coal-fired steamship in the southern hemisphere – which is pretty cool!

The combination of sailing on this iconic steam engine and having a delicious dinner at Walter Peak farm makes for one of the best tours you can do in all of Otago.

In our opinion, it’s one of the coolest tours we’ve done in New Zealand during the 8 months we’ve lived here!

If you get the time to go on the TSS Earnslaw Dinner Cruise while you’re in Queenstown then you should absolutely do it!

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Why you should go on the TSS Earnslaw Dinner Cruise

Quick breakdown of the experience:

  • ⏰ Time: Roughly 3.5 hours
  • 💸 Cost: $175 NZD
  • 🎟️ Book: GetYourGuide or Viator
  • ⭐️ Reviews: 4.9 out of 5 (+1500 reviews)
  • 🌱 Eco-certified

You’re in for a real trip on this guided tour to the Walter Peak Farm on Lake Wakatipu!

The ride on the ship is an experience in itself – and adding the delicious food, farm demonstration, and everything else makes for such an awesome evening tour.

During the span of 3.5 hours, you’re going to be:

  • Sailing along Lake Wakatipu (Whakatipu Wai-Māori) on one of the most unique coal-fired steamships
  • Enjoying a delicious gourmet BBQ dinner at Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant, and
  • Experiencing a local farm demonstration of how sheep herding works right on the Walter Peak Farm premise!

Sailing on the TSS Earnslaw from Queenstown 

It’s hard to say if we enjoyed one part of the experience more than the others – especially since they were all great and quite different from each other.

The fact you get to sail on such a unique vessel from Queenstown to Walter Peak Farm is pretty cool.

We also got lucky and had a clear blue sky day with almost no waves as we sailed from Queenstown to Walter Peak Farm.

Jo enjoying the journey and the view

During the whole journey there you’ll have the chance to admire the mountains surrounding you.

There is also a little bar on board where you can order juice, coffee, beer & drinks if you want (not included in the price).

Dom’s favourite part was actually going to the lower deck where there’s a little museum onboard the ship that shares the history of the TSS Earnslaw.

While you’re down there you’ll be able to see the engine room and feel how hot it gets down there because of the coal-fired steam engines!

If you just want to enjoy a nice drink on the way to Walter Peak Farm, you can always check out the “museum” and the engine room on the journey back to Queenstown after the tour. 

PS: There are other tours on the TSS Earnslaw – not only the dinner cruise! 🚢

Delicious dinner at Walter Peak Farm

Dom’s enjoying his meal and a glass of rosé
There were some delicious dessert options!

Even though the whole tour was amazing the dinner was definitely the main event!

The restaurant is lakeside with a stunning view looking back at Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains.

On a warm sunny day, you’ll enjoy dinner outside with one of the best restaurant views you could imagine.

Walter Peak Farm has a homestead restaurant and if you look at the map it is in quite a remote spot located in the southwest corner of Lake Wakatipu.

The food at the buffet is absolutely delicious with a wide variety of salads, meats, fish & seafood, and desserts – they even do special buffets on different holidays.

All in all, the buffet is super impressive and you will also be able to order some drinks or wine from the staff (at an additional cost).

We really enjoyed sitting in the late evening sun in these peaceful, beautiful surroundings while trying out all the delicious food. It is definitely one of the more unique dinner experiences we’ve had.

You can find the exact dinner cruise tour we did to Walter Peak Farm here.

Unique local farm experience & sheep shearing

Learning about sheep farming and shearing in New Zealand

After dinner, you have a bit of time to roam around the grounds and the garden and then it is time to learn about sheep and sheep herding!

We didn’t actually know about this part of the tour to Walter Peak Farm as we’d just seen that the tour included the cruise and dinner, but it was quite the experience.

We had a local sheepherder demonstrate how to shear a sheep while he shared a few things about the Kiwi sheep industry and the wool.

It was quite fascinating to see and the sheepherder was very knowledgeable!

After that, we had the chance to see how they train border collie dogs to herd sheep.

You’ll get a full-on show where you’ll be watching a border collie run up the mountain and listen to commands from the shepherd while chasing the sheep down into a little stall (as you see in the picture above).

The communication between the shepherd and the dog is incredible and the herding process looks so simple but you realize how much training (and money) it requires.

It’s something we’ve never seen before and it was pretty cool to see it firsthand like this here in New Zealand.

Jo first thought to skip this part as it seemed like it was mostly for kids but it was actually super interesting and entertaining.

The whole tour to Walter Peak Farm ended up being an even better experience than we were expecting!

Once the show is done you’ll have one last chance to walk around the beautiful property, check out the souvenir shop, and get some last-minute photos of the area before heading back on the TSS Earnslaw.

The gift & souvenir shop at Walter Peak Park

Back on the TSS Earnslaw to Queenstown

For me (Dom), the way back from the farm to Queenstown felt like a totally different experience.

At this point, the tour is almost done and you’ve seen and done everything you’ve wanted to do and now you can just sit back and enjoy the beautiful New Zealand landscape.

We were blessed with the most calm summer day and the colors in the sky setting over the mountains were stunning.

The ride back is so peaceful just sailing on Lake Wakatipu as you slowly approach Queenstown.

By the time you get back to Queenstown, the sun will be setting, the street lights will start to turn on, restaurants will be buzzing, and the night is just beginning in the streets of Queenstown.

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Our thoughts on the TSS Earnslaw Dinner Cruise

While most of the time you’ll find us out hiking a mountain or doing something adventurous, sometimes we also love finding unique tours doing something completely different – like sailing on Lake Wakatipu to a delicious homestead restaurant!

Even though there’s so much to do around Queenstown (like hiking up the Queenstown Hill Walkway or going for beer at Altitude Brewery), this dinner cruise was quite a unique experience.

I think we were both really surprised by how much we enjoyed this tour and how it wasn’t just one experience but almost like a 3-in-1 tour.

The views were awesome, the people we talked to were nice, the food was good, and we learned something new!

So if you have the time and want a cool experience here in Queenstown then we highly recommend going on the dinner cruise and experiencing Walter Peak Farm firsthand.

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Recap of the TSS Earnslaw Dinner Cruise 

We caught a stunning sunset once we got back from the experience

As you probably know by now, we really enjoyed this tour. It has the perfect mix of beautiful nature, good food, and a true local, kiwi experience feel to it.

One of our favourite things about the tour was the live demonstration of a border collie running up and down a mountain herding the sheep in the exact direction the sheepherder wanted them to go.

If you have questions about the tour then feel free to leave a comment below. We love answering questions and helping wherever we can.

You can book this specific tour to Walter Peak Farm here and you can also DM us on Instagram @redwhiteadventures if you have any other questions about Queenstown!

Have the most amazing time on this dinner cruise and we can’t wait to hear all about it!

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