With the discovery of gold in Arrowtown in 1862, commercial shipping on Lake Wakatipu became a lucrative business. Over the next 40 years, as many as four private companies operated sail and steamships to cater to needs of the diggers and the growing population around the lake.

However, the people of the area were not satisfied with the poor service provided by these companies and the high prices they charged.

 PS Mountaineer
PS Mountaineer

PS Mountaineer

27 April 2011



In response, on 1 November 1901, the Government announced their intention to call for tenders for a high-class steamer on Lake Wakatipu capable of running at 16 knots and a capacity of carrying 1000 passengers.

These plans were shelved when the Government bought out the Lake Wakatipu Shipping Company for £15,000 in 1902. All employees of the old company were retained, while management of the service was taken over by New Zealand Railways. The purchase included three paddle steamers – the PS Antrim, PS Mountaineer and the SS Ben Lomond – each over 30 years old.

New Zealand Railways attempted to make improvements, including the dramatic reduction of fares, but locals and tourists continued to be unhappy with the level of the service.

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