TSS Earnslaw celebrates 100 years

00:06, Oct 18 2012
Georgia Small, 5, in her best Edwardian bonnet.
Earnslaw was given a makeover for her 100th birthday. Here she is guided into dock after the spruce-up, in July.
Hugo Husheer, 6, foreground, and his brother Findlay, 9, check out the engine room.
Passengers take in the view from the promenade deck.
Passengers stroll around the vessel.
Kaina Henry, 5, hopes that the birthday cake, in the shape of the steamer, tastes as good as it looks.
Entertainment provided by The Arrow Miners Band.
Passengers board the Earnslaw for the party of the century.

Shoeshiners, banjo players and newspaper delivery boys lined the docks in Queenstown as a re-enactment of the TSS Earnslaw's maiden 1912 voyage left the shores of Lake Wakatipu.

The oldest coal-fired passenger steamship in the southern hemisphere is celebrating 100 years with a week of centenary voyages.

Jack Robbie, 10, and Jakob Newell, 11, were the official shoeshiners as passengers boarded.

The actors are part of a large group hired to be different characters, including farmers, merchant bankers and policemen.

Mixed among them are crew and former staff.

Jim Young, who was invited as a special guest, was the ship's head engineer for 26 years.


Young, who travelled from Christchurch for today's cruise, said the boat was in better shape today than it was 50 years ago.

"Given sufficient money and resources, you can keep it going forever just about," he said.

The TSS Earnslaw, known as The Lady of the Lake, was commissioned in 1910 after increasing public apprehension about the existing lake steamers.

On October 18, 1912, the Earnslaw made its first official passenger voyage from Kingston to Queenstown.

In 1970, Fiordland Travel, now Real Journeys, committed to running the steamship in as close to original condition as possible.

These days it runs daily trips across Lake Wakatipu to the Walter Peak high-country resort, carrying more than 150,000 people every year.

The Press