What is The Opposite of a Jet Boat?

The TSS Earnslaw is a 1912 vintage twin screw steamer plying the waters of Lake Wakatipu New Zealand. It is one of the oldest tourist attractions in Central Otago, and the only remaining passenger-carrying coal-fired steamship in the southern hemisphere.

What is a twin screw steamer, you ask?  It is a is a steam-powered vessel propelled by two screws, one on either side of the plane of the keel. That should clear it up for you.  If not, how about this:


Quite a bit different from the jet boat of this morning.  The cruise was lovely. We got to have pictures taken on the bridge. It took everything I had not to refer to the shorts-wearing captain as “Capt. Stubbing.” We got to see the engine room and watch them shovel coal into the engines. Strange that something so mundane was so interesting.  It may be the only time the girls ever see something powered like that.

We disembarked at Walter Peak High Country Farm for dinner. The Colonel’s Homestead is beautiful and the food was good. By this time we have eaten New Zealand Buffets a number of times and while the food is always good it is beginning to become a bit run of the mill. And I am still getting used to the idea that cheese is not an appetizer but a dessert.

After dinner we went to the shearing shed and watched the farm dogs rounding up sheep from the hill paddocks, and the farmer shear a sheep. The dogs are the most amazing creatures. And the sheep, well, they are much like certain girls I knew in high school; cute, compliant and down right stupid. Here is a short clip of the show we saw, posted by someone else as we left filming to the girls.

On the trip back, at the pleading of the girls, we sat in on the traditional sing-along with the ship’s pianist.  Granted we were the only people there under 60, but the girls had a great time singing the hearts out to songs they have never heard before.  Finally, a walk back to the hotel and sleep much needed sleep.

Speed and Rain

Today we were up and out early for a trip to Glenorchy (pop. 220) at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu. The day was wet and deary but with little else to do on a deary day in Queenstown everyone on our bus decided to solider on and see what the day would hold.

The ride from Queenstown to Glenorchy was about 40 km and about an hour drive.  Again we had a lovely tour guide.  At this point you can begin to assume that tour guides here are lovely, nice, kind, pleasant, funny people.  It is a national trait, I think. We arrived at the Dart River Jet Safaris office.  Since we got a bus tour and nature walk which would last another 1 or so we decided not to give the poor river guide a day off and bet on better weather for the jet boat ride.

So off we headed to view the,

wait for it,

beautiful scenery and sheep farm.

One would think that it would have begun to jade us a bit but indeed it did not. This time there was more.  Many movies and a great number of commercials have been filming in the little area, including Lord of the Rings, Wolverine, and Prince Caspian . We saw the area of Isengard and the Misty Mountains.  We learned more about flora and fauna. And as you can see, we bit the bullet and rode the jet boat, in the rain, in the cold, and had a fabulous time.

We did not get to go up as far as we would have liked because the Dart River is a braided river.  A braided river has a channel that consists of a network of small channels separated by small and often temporary islands called braid bars.

The channels and braid bars are usually highly mobile, so the guide told us that it is rarely the same river two days in a row. The water was a bit low so less of a ride for us, but since it was cold and wet we decided we could live with that.

After a quick bite at The Glenorchy Cafe, we headed back to the hotel for some down time and then it was off to the Wharf for our Earnslaw adventure.