Lake Wakatipu

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Lake Wakatipu: Our most recommended tours and activities

TSS Earnslaw: Queenstown Cruise & Walter Peak Gourmet BBQ

1. TSS Earnslaw: Queenstown Cruise & Walter Peak Gourmet BBQ

This half-day activity begins and concludes with a 45-minute cruise across Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu onboard the historic TSS Earnslaw. Spend a few hours enjoying the culinary delights at Walter Peak High Country Station, including an entertaining farm demonstration the whole family will enjoy. Feel free to take advantage of the extensive lay-out of this incredible steam-ship – she is a floating museum of her own history, and you are more than welcome to enter the engine room where you can watch our hardy coal-stokers as they keep this beautiful lady of the lake gliding across the aqua waters of Lake Wakatipu. Overlooking Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown’s incredible alpine scenery, the Colonel’s Homestead at Walter Peak is the perfect place to spend a beautiful day in Central Otago. It’s colonial architecture and sweeping grounds evoke the elegance of a bygone era. Spend your time wandering the award-winning gardens, or saying hello to the animals that call the station home. The BBQ Buffet includes salads, vegetables and succulent local meats cooked on the outdoor rotisserie or grill. There is a wide range of desserts on offer, including a vast array of fresh bread and cheese. If you have any dietary restrictions, please let the supplier know directly so we can safely accommodate your requests.

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TSS Earnslaw: 1.5-Hour Cruise From Queenstown

2. TSS Earnslaw: 1.5-Hour Cruise From Queenstown

Join the TSS Earnslaw for a 1.5-hour cruise across Lake Wakatipu. Admire spectacular alpine scenery and enjoy plenty of time to explore a piece of living history. Listen to engaging commentary from your experienced captain who will highlight points of interest throughout your cruise. Make your way to Steamer Wharf at Queenstown’s waterfront. Climb aboard the oldest working coal-fired passenger steamship in the southern hemisphere and feel free to explore! View the collection of historical photos in the small onboard museum and check out the skipper’s wheelhouse. Visit the engine room to feel the heat of the giant steam engines at work and see the stokers shovel coal into the glowing fireboxes.  Soak in the dramatic mountain views surrounding Lake Wakatipu and relax at the cafe where you can enjoy a wine or beer and snacks are also available for purchase. 

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TSS Earnslaw: Cruise and Walter Peak Farm Tour

3. TSS Earnslaw: Cruise and Walter Peak Farm Tour

Start with a scenic cruise, crossing Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak High Country Farm. Explore the decks, visit the steam room, or chat with the captain in the wheelhouse. You’ll find a licensed cafe on board. Disembark at Walter Peak and join the host for a farmyard tour. Get up close to sheep, deer, and highland cattle. Help feed the farm animals, watch a farm demonstration, and explore the lakeside gardens. Enjoy a morning or afternoon tea including scones, muffins, coffee, and tea. The Walter Peak Farm tour is the perfect way to get a taste of New Zealand's farming lifestyle in an interactive way. This 3.5-hour tour is suitable for all ages.

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Queenstown: Spirit of Queenstown Lake Wakatipu Scenic Cruise

4. Queenstown: Spirit of Queenstown Lake Wakatipu Scenic Cruise

Cruise farther and see more on this 1.5-hour Queenstown scenic cruise. Sit back, relax and enjoy spectacular views of the Remarkables, Bob’s Cove, Cecil Peak and Mt. Earnslaw from the comfort of the Spirit of Queenstown – an environmentally friendly and luxurious cruise boat. Take in panoramic views from the open top deck. Enjoy refreshments, snacks and lunch served in the café on board. Cruise across spectacular Lake Wakatipu as you enjoy entertaining commentary provided by the local skipper.

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Queenstown: Shotover River and Kawarau River Jet Boat Ride

5. Queenstown: Shotover River and Kawarau River Jet Boat Ride

Get an adrenaline rush on a 1-hour jet boat ride, operated by the world’s first commercial jet boat company. Take in stunning views of the Remarkable Mountains and journey up 2 of South Island’s most iconic rivers.  Depart from the heart of Queenstown, and climb aboard the big yellow jet boat at the Main Town Pier. Hold on tight as you accelerate across the water and feel the exhilaration of a high-powered twin-engine boat that powers across Lake Wakatipu. Experience the twists and spins as you enter the Kawarau River and race past rocks and under bridges at speeds of up to 95 kilometers per hour.  Grip the heated handrails and experience 360° spins while you speed up the shallow channels of the Shotover River. After 45 kilometers of pure adrenaline, return to the pier and see photos and videos from your trip.

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Queenstown: Pilot's Choice Helicopter Tour & Alpine Landing

6. Queenstown: Pilot's Choice Helicopter Tour & Alpine Landing

Enjoy a 20-minute scenic helicopter tour and alpine landing for incredible views of Queenstown from above. Your pilot will choose your flight path and landing location for the best possible experience on the day. After pickup from your central Queenstown hotel, enjoy the short drive to the helicopter base at the airport. Meet the friendly crew and check in for your flight. Then, take to the skies to marvel at Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown from above. Your experienced pilot will share local insights with you and point out areas of interest. Your pilot will choose the best location on the day for your alpine landing. Only a helicopter will be able to land in the remote spot. In winter, you’ll have snow at your feet, and during summer expect stunningly rugged terrain. Fly back to the helicopter base where your tour will conclude with a transfer back to your hotel.

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Queenstown: Time Tripper Underwater Experience

7. Queenstown: Time Tripper Underwater Experience

Take the stairs down under Lake Wakatipu and travel back to the beginning of time. Time Tripper is a 14-minute state-of-the-art animated show that takes you back 90 million years ago to what Queenstown was like all those years ago. Your time-travel pilot will guide you through the time of the dinosaurs, taking you back to when New Zealand was formed and flying you deep into the earth to when the Southern Alps were created. Ending in present-day Queenstown, you'll then experience activities all from the comfort of your seat. Following your informative session, you'll enjoy 10-15 minutes of underwater viewing during which you can see the famous diving ducks, slinky eels, and trout that lie beneath. This approximately 30-minute activity is Queenstown’s only underwater experience, blasting off every half hour from the Main Town Pier.

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Queenstown: Kawarau River Jet Boat Adventure

8. Queenstown: Kawarau River Jet Boat Adventure

Discover Queenstown’s untouched and pristine wilderness during an authentic jet boat adventure across Lake Wakatipu and along the historic Kawarau River. Choose from a 25-minute or 1-hour experience and spend more time on the water with a convenient departure right from the heart of Queenstown. Depart from Thunder Bay next to Steamer Wharf in the heart of Queenstown and travel far up the Kawarau River, covering a distance of 47 km. Along the way, listen to interesting commentary from your experienced driver. After getting equipped with a life jacket and spray jacket, climb on board and experience exhilarating 360-degree spins, skimming the water at speeds of up to 95 km/hour.  Then, travel down the river where it is calmest, even when the lake is rough. Take your camera along to capture the stunning scenery of your jet boat experience with frequent photo opportunities.

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Queenstown: Small-Group Tour to Milford Sound with Cruise

9. Queenstown: Small-Group Tour to Milford Sound with Cruise

Join a fully-guided, small-group day tour from Queenstown or Te Anau to the world-renowned Milford Sound; the crowning jewel of Fiordland. Highlights of the drive will include Lake Wakatipu, the Devil’s Staircase, the truly majestic mountains of Fiordland, Mirror Lake, the Chasm, and Homer Tunnel. You will also enjoy multiple stops along the way for photo opportunities and Kea bird spotting (the world’s largest alpine parrot). You will then travel through the mind-blowing Homer Tunnel, emerging as the valley descends sharply down to Milford Sound, with its hundreds of waterfalls cascading into the crystal clear waters beneath. At Milford Sound you will take an intimate cruise on a smaller boat that gets right up close with nature and wildlife. Onboard your cruise you will have up-close views of thousands of waterfalls, Mitre Peak, as well as local wildlife, providing you with hundreds of amazing photo opportunities along the way. Following your cruise you will begin the return journey back to Queenstown, stopping again in Te Anau for a quick break. At the end of the day, your guide will drop you back to your Queenstown accommodation, or you can opt to upgrade to a scenic, one-way flight back from Milford instead (to be booked during the booking process). Choose this option for the ultimate view over the mountains and region during your return journey.

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Queenstown: 15-Minute Ride in a Semi-Submersible

10. Queenstown: 15-Minute Ride in a Semi-Submersible

You will be taken on an adrenaline-packed tour of stunning Lake Wakatipu. Sit back in the state-of-the-art cockpit of this semi-submersible machine and get ready to feel the G-force as your expert pilot provides you with an experience you’ll never forget. Looking through the F-16 fighter-grade glass you’ll see the sky disappear as your pilot descends into a dive underwater for 5-15 seconds, and then launches 18ft (6 meters) into the air. You can also roll on a 90-degree angle, do tight doughnut turns and much more. With top speeds of 50 mph (80 kph) on water and 25 mph (40 kph) underwater, this ride is guaranteed to get your heart pumping. Trips are one-on-one with your pilot so you can push your own limits, flying above or below the crystal clear waters.

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Other Sightseeing Options in Lake Wakatipu

Want to discover all there is to do in Lake Wakatipu? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Lake Wakatipu

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 1,276 reviews

A great day out!! The boat trip was really good. The Walter Peak BBQ was delicious & the gardens & country lodge were absolutely beautiful, & the staff were all so friendly. The best day out I've had out for ages. I flew down to Queenstown just for the day, &, I chose a great activity to do for the say was so relaxing at Walter Peak, I truly didn't want to leave!! I highly recommend to anyone thinking about doing this to do it. The best $129 I've spent in ages!! I went on my own, but everyone waz so friendly on the trip, so don't not go because you are on your own.

We booked for 4 but only 1 was able to make our initial boarding check-in time so the lovely staff moved us to the next available sailing time so we all could experience the Earnslaw, this was very much appreciated. The ship/boat is quite large with lots on board to see and do, as well as the views outside are spectacular. The staff are extremely courteous and polite. Thanks for such a happy experience guys.

Good for small kids, an unique experience with the farm animals. The tea and snacks were great. The TSS Earnslaw ride was very relaxing.

Very relaxing afternoon. Enjoyed the time cruising and listening to live music. Once in a lifetime experience!!

Lovely food and great hosts. Would highly recommend.