Queenstown is known as an adventure hub in New Zealand. And while we enjoyed some incredible thrills in the area, we were on the lookout for a way to wind down the evening after all that bungee jumping, climbing, hiking, luging, and cycling.
Our trip to Walter Peak Farm for a gourmet BBQ dinner absolutely nailed what we were looking for. It’s an awesome evening from Queenstown!
Voyaging to Walter Peak Farm on the TSS Earnslaw provided some quintessential New Zealand experiences, all while fueling our bellies for the next day’s adventure. When invited us to check out Walter Peak Farm, we were delighted to hop aboard a famed New Zealand steamship to set sail for BBQ a feast!
Discovering the TSS Earnslaw
The excursion to Walter Peak Farm starts with a voyage across Lake Wakatipu on a vintage steamer known as the TSS Earnslaw. We thought it was just going to be a little boat ride across the lake, as a means of transportation to Walter Peak Farm. Yet we soon discovered the ride on this charming ship was all part of the fun!
History enthusiasts particularly enjoy the trip, as the historic TSS Earnslaw is a steamship that was launched in 1912 (the same year as the Titanic!) The TSS Earnslaw was formerly used in its South Island location primarily to move sheep, passengers, and goods to and from isolated farming communities.
Eventually a road was constructed, and thus, the steamship was no longer an efficient means of transportation. In 1968 the now obsolete TSS Earnslaw was headed to the scrapyard. But then Fjordland Travel (now Real Journeys) stepped in to lease and later purchase this old beauty. They were able to give the ship the TLC it needed to revive it to its former glory.
Turns out, the TSS Earnslaw is quite a famous ship here in New Zealand. Throughout the rest of our travels across the country, we often saw many references to the TSS Earnslaw throughout museums and on plaques.
Today, the TSS Earnslaw is the only coal fired steamship in operation in the southern hemisphere!
Another fun fact: movie buffs may recognize the steamship as it was used in Indian Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
A highlight during the steamship ride is standing on a platform to observe the men hard at work in the boiler room of the TSS Earnslaw. The ship still runs on coal to this day. You can freely walk right above all that coal shoveling and get a glimpse at all the action.
Meanwhile, the bow of the ship offers an entirely different perspective. As we explored this historic ship, we were surprised to find no only passengers to take advantage of incredible views from the front of the TSS Earnslaw.
The ship has a comfy interior, where most passengers remained during the transit to Walter Peak Farm. Yet with mild weather, it was great to be able to access the the exterior of the ship for sweeping views of the lakeside.
Walter Peak Farm Gourmet BBQ Dinner
Upon arriving at the farm, we were greeted by the well manicured flowers lining the way to the expansive restaurant. But we couldn’t dally too long to stop and smell the roses. We had some business to tend to. Eating BBQ!
Dinner takes place at Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant, which is more of a charming farmhouse than a restaurant. It’s best to arrive to Walter Peak Farm hungry, because there is so much on offer to enjoy! The meal is served buffet style and is all-you-care-to eat.
There were all sorts of cold starters and appetizers ranging from salads to seafood. Two solid options were the tomato and mozzarella salad and the baby spinach with lentils, hazelnuts, pomegranate & feta. Yum!
But it was some of the more fresh seafood that really won us over. We filled our plates with shrimp cocktail, clams, smoked salmon and even pickled octopus seasoned with fennel and paprika!
Main courses consist of everything from steak to rack of lamb, and local fish to pork & chicken. They were all expertly grilled on the spot.
The BBQ was a job well done, but the meats thankfully were not. Everything was juicy and tender! Being in New Zealand, it’s nearly a requisite to try the local lamb, of course. We did. It was among the best lamb we’ve ever had.
But don’t skip the Walter Peak’s steak either. That was a favorite among many of our fellow dinner mates.
Typical BBQ sides like corn on the cob, green beans, and potatoes were available for the taking too. A small detail we quite enjoyed was the condiment table. I think there were at least 25 different sauces to dip all that meat into.
But perhaps my favorite of all were the artisan cheeses and desserts! I’m a bit of a cheese fiend and these did not disappoint. What was really nice is that they all seemed to be locally produced NZ versions of these delicious worldly cheese. We were able to sample different cheeses from all over both the North and South Island.
If you are to ever have dinner at Walter Peak Farm, don’t gorge too much on this endless supply of meats and cheeses. The artfully presented sweet options were truly decadent and worth leaving room in your belly for.
They’re small bites so that diners can try many different desserts. Its hard to pick favorites, but I’d probably have to go with the chocolate creme brûlée. So good!
All of these sweet treats was such a nice way to conclude what was ultimately a fantastic BBQ dinner at Walter Peak Farm.
Sheep Shearing Demonstration at Walter Peak Farm
After the meal, it’s time for the sheep shearing demonstration!
Visitors to the farm make their way to the neighboring barn. It’s here that a retired farmer gives you a little show with his faithful dogs. Before the sheep sheering demo begins, he has his trained dogs corral sheep from the meadow to the barn.
The dogs ran out into the darkness beyond what any of us could see. We all doubted the canines’ capabilities. Yet minutes later, there they were with a good half dozen sheep in tow! Pretty neat!
Then the shearing begins! You really get an appreciation for the technique required to shear a squirmy sheep.
The sheerer managed to get the sheep still and then raced to get shed its wool coat right off of her. It doesn’t get much more “New Zealand” than this.
Following the sheep shearing demo, it’s time to head back to the TSS Earnslaw for the boat trip back to Queenstown. During the return voyage, there is a pianist that plays classic tunes accompanied with songbooks for all the passengers.
We grabbed a beer from the bar and joined right in to sing “She’ll be coming ’round the mountain!” It was a fun way to wind down the night.
If You Go to Walter Peak Farm Gourmet BBQ Dinner:
🌟 Review: We definitely give Walter Peak Farm a great review! This is an excursion we’d personally recommend for anyone looking for a unique dining experience while in Queenstown. The buffet dinner is plentiful, excellent quality, and delicious. The scenic cruise on the TSS Earnslaw was delightful inside and out. The shepherding demonstration was interesting and loads of fun that delivered smiles all around. Overall it proved to be a great evening that we found to be a good value, given everything that’s included.
But don’t just take our word for it. Read the most recent reviews here on popular booking site, GetYourGuide. At last check, it scored 4.7 (out of 5) and boasted excellent reviews to back that up.
💲 Price: Typically the cost of the Walter Peak Farm BBQ Dinner with roundtrip transport on the USS Earnslaw costs $129 NZD for the entire four hour experience.
🎟️ Inclusions: The ticket includes:
- roundtrip ride across the lake on the TSS Earnslaw,
- full buffet dinner – all you care to eat, and
- farm show with shepherding & sheep sheering demonstration.
🍺 Extras: Beer, wine, and alcoholic drinks do cost extra. They are reasonably priced, by NZ standards. Drinks are available both at Walter Peak Farm and on the TSS Earnslaw.
📅 Booking: This excursion does tend to book up full, particularly during high season. So advanced reservations are highly recommended. You can confirm availability, current price, and book through GetYourGuide.
🕗 Time: The dinner events typically begin at 4pm, 6pm, or 8pm, depending on the time of year. It’s also possible to cruise to Walter Peak Farm on the TSS Earnslaw as a lunch excursion. Check the booking calendar for exact times for lunch and dinner.
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