Cabinet approval sought for building of new steamer on Lake Wakatipu


September 1910


Tender of $20,850 awarded to John McGregor & Co, Dunedin


4 July, 1911


Keel laid in McGregor’s yard

Prefabrication in Dunedin
27 April 2011

28 November, 1911


Keel re-laid in Kingston


24 February, 1912


Hull launched in Lake Wakatipu

Hull launched at Kingston
27 April 2011

02 April, 1912


Funnel and mast placed in position


03 August, 1912


First trial trip from Kingston to Halfway Bay under steam


18 October, 1912


Maiden voyage from Kingston to Queenstown

TSS Earnslaw at Queenstown Steamer Wharf

The TSS Earnslaw at the Queenstown wharf about to commence her maiden voyage to the head of the Lake, 19 October 1912

27 April 2011

21 October, 1912


New Zealand Railways formally accepts delivery of the TSS Earnslaw


12 April, 1914


Carries a record number of 1056 passengers on Easter Sunday


March, 1927


His Royal Highness, the Duke of York travels on the TSS Earnslaw

Duke of York

His Royal Highness the Duke of York (later King George IV) leaving the Earnslaw and about to board the Royal Train in March, 1927

27 April 2011

January, 1935


His Royal Highness, the Duke of Gloucester  travels on the TSS Earnslaw




Steam engines dismantled and reconditioned




Helps with the laying of telephone cable from Glenorchy to Kinloch




First hull repair since launch - three hull plates replaced due to corrosion from soapy water dripping from the galley sink.

First plate renewal on the TSS Earnslaw, 1961

First plate renewal on the Earnslaw's hull during the 1961 survey.

27 April 2011



Enables laying of telephone cable across Frankton Arm between Queenstown and Kelvin Peninsula


Fiordland Travel (now Real Journeys) approached to take over the operations of the TSS Earnslaw for the first time. 

January 1968  

TSS Earnslaw makes headlines in The Press when the Minister of Railways, Peter Gordon states that the Government would contemplate giving the steamer away

August 1968  

Tenders invited for the purchase of the TSS Earnslaw

11 December 1968  

Minister of Railways, Peter Gordon announces lease to an Auckland group from the 1st of Jan, 1969


27 October 1969


The Lake Wakatipu Steamship Company fails to purchase the TSS Earnslaw thereby forfeiting their right to operate it.


12 December 1969


Fiordland Travel takes over operations of the TSS Earnslaw




Capacity reduced from 1035 to 747




Bridge of the TSS Earnslaw rebuilt and enclosed to provide crew with better protection from the elements




Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip cruise aboard the TSS Earnslaw




TSS Earnslaw becomes the first vessel to be protected under a district plan when the Queenstown Lakes District council lists it as Category One Heritage



The TSS Earnslaw travels 1.5 times the circumference of the earth each year. Not bad for a 100 year old steamship!

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