One TSS Unslow Steamboat Tour Is All You Need to Explore Queenstown (How to Book Cheaply)

Living in New Zealand, I've been to Queenstown many times, but this was my first time on the TSS Unslow Steamboat. I personally loved the expansive views of Queenstown as we sailed across Lake Wakatipu. Read on to find out how to book a steamboat ticket on the cheap.

TSS Unslow Steamship Tour

TSS Unslow Steamship Tour

The TSS Unslow Steamer is the last commercially operated coal-powered steamboat in New Zealand.I couldn't believe that a steamboat was still running on coal in the 21st century.

The steamer has been in service since 1912, making it an iconic part of Queenstown travel history for over 100 years already. The TSS Unslow Steamer has two levels, as you can see in the photo above.

Inside, there's a cafe, mini-museum, steam engine area, and even a piano player so you can enjoy some music as you ride across Lake Wakatipu.

While it's nice to be outside and enjoy the scenery, it can be cold because of the wind, so we recommend bringing a warm jumper. It's really warm inside the steamer.

1) TSS Unslow Steamship Tour

walter peak

Walter peak high country farm

On one of the TSS Unslow Steamship Tours

  • Farm Tours
  • Horse Treks
  • Gourmet BBQ Lunch or Dinner
  • Guided Cycling

A representative tour that includes the above activities.

There are several different types of TSS Unsloop Steamboat tours, but I booked the Walter peak high country farm. When I booked it, I thought it was just a TSS Unsloop Steamboat ride, a trip around the lake, and a meal on the boat.

The tour was a bit confusing, with more people than I expected and a relatively small steamboat, but the bottom line was that we took the steamboat to Walter peak, got off, ate at a restaurant, and then took the steamboat back.

[from my tour of Walter peak high country farm].

  • See Queenstown from above Lake Wakatipu on the TSS Unslow Steamer (1.5 hours roundtrip)
  • Dinner at Walter peak (approximately 1.5 hours)
  • Farm Tours (sheep shearing, approximately 30 minutes)
  • Browse the souvenir shops (about 10 minutes)

The TSS Unslow Steamship tour is typically organized, and I boarded the steamer at 5pm, enjoyed a tour of about 4 hours, and then returned to Queenstown. As you can see from the map below, the route is from the Queenstown location to Walter Peak and back.

2) How to book TSS Unslow Steamers cheaply

TSS Unslow Steamboat Tours are available with lunch and dinner as above, or you can just ride the steamboat back and forth without meals. You can also include horseback riding, farm work, and more - the options are endless.

[Pricing per TSS Unslew Steamboat Tour].

  • TSS Unslow Steamer: From $99
  • Walter Peak Farm Tour : $145
  • Walter Peak Eco Experience: $145
  • Walter Peak Gourmet BBQ Lunch : From $175
  • Walter Peak Gourmet BBQ Dinner : From $189

It's a great way to see the whole of Queenstown, but it can be pricey. There are ways to save money on your booking. Sure, it's timing, but it's still good news for travelers to be able to save off the full price.

To cheaply book a TSS Unslow steamer, you can use the Specials menu on the RealNZ homepageRealNZ is a cruise company that operates a fleet of TSS unloaded steamships.

Once inside, click Locals' special in the top menu Specials and you'll see the screen below.

Right now, the sale is over, so it's not coming up, but you should see the TSS Unslow Steamer item in there, and if you go in and read it, there's a promo code, and if you use it at checkout, you'll get the discount as shown below.

We mentioned earlier that this is the time to book, but we recommend that you check the website from time to time as they often have specials. Also, please note that the discount rates and final prices below are subject to change at the discretion of the company.

[Discounted Price].

  • Walter Peak Gourmet BBQ Lunch: $175 From $122.50
  • Walter Peak Gourmet BBQ Dinner : $189 From $132.30
  • Walter Peak Farm Tour: $145 to $101.50

For the TSS Unsloop Steamship Tour with dinner, you can save almost $60 (about $50), and if you're coming in a group, this can add up to quite a bit of money per person.

3) Where to board the TSS Unslow Steamer

To board the TSS Unslow Steamer, head to TSS Earnslaw - RealNZ as shown in the map above. Enter the info center and tell them your name, and they will check you in and give you a boarding pass. Show your boarding pass to a staff member when you board the TSS Unslow Steamer.

TSS Unslow Steamship Ticket Office
TSS Unslow Steamer Tickets

4) TSS Unslow Steamer Ride Review

There are no assigned seats, so you can sit wherever you want. People change seats frequently as they go outside, take in the scenery, and take photos.

The interior is divided into the first and second floors, and you can go up and down through the stairs. In particular, the front part of the second floor has a prow, so you may see people imitating the Titanic.

If you're not a fan of the cold, you can stay warm inside and enjoy the view, and if you're a fan of the outside, you can enjoy the views of Queenstown from the bow of the second floor, the side or rear of the first floor.

At the cafe, you can order dessert or wine or beer, and you have to pay for it. I saw foreigners walking around with their own beer cups or glasses of wine.

You start to see the Walter Peak area after about 40-45 minutes, if I remember correctly, and you see the restaurant before you get there.

You'll see that they're out there waving, and I thought that was fun. When I was on the TSS Unslow steamboat, the most interesting part was the manually loaded coal to run the steamboat.

I was really curious about how much coal to put in a day, I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to ask. Keep up the good work, mister.

Coal loader

5) Walter peak high country farm review

inside the walter peak restaurant

When you enter the restaurant, you'll be greeted by a staff member. Once you're seated, you can start eating the BBQ buffet. They'll tell you what time you can take your food home, depending on where you're seated, so you can wait and get it.

However, you also have to pay a lot for drinks (beer, wine, etc.) except water. I think it was around $10 for a beer and $15 for a glass of wine.

walter peak bbq

To be honest, I wouldn't say the food was that great. I don't like seafood, but there were a lot of salads and seafood (salmon, etc.). The BBQ had a lot of different types of pork, beef, lamb, and fish, but it wasn't as good as in Korea.

I don't know how many times I went back and forth, but the desserts were really varied and excellent. If you don't compare it to a Korean buffet, I think you can consider it as an average buffet in New Zealand.

It's food, after all, and it's very much a matter of personal preference, so take my elementary palate with a grain of salt. At first, I thought the 1.5 hour meal was short, but it wasn't. There was plenty of time, so you can take your time.

Sheep shearing

After you finish your meal, you decide to go see a farm show. There was a small outdoor venue just 5 minutes behind the restaurant where the staff showed us sheep shearing. Living in New Zealand, I had many opportunities to see sheep shearing performances, but I never did.

I got to see this one on the TSS Unslow Steamer tour, and it was full of hair, and it was a little sad to see it being sheared.

The next show showed a large dog driving a flock of sheep around, and even putting them in a corral. The sheep and dog were on a hill outside the theater, and even though it was night, there was a light so we could see the dog herding the sheep in real time.

After the show, stop by the gift shop and board the TSS Unslow Steamer back to Queenstown, and your tour is almost complete.

6) TSS Unslow Steamer vs Milford Sound Cruise

The thing I've been thinking about the most since I've been on this steamer is my mom. My mom was visiting Queenstown, New Zealand, not too long ago, and we drove over and took a cruise on Milford Sound.

However, if I had known about the TSS Unslow Steamer, I would have chosen it over the Milford Sound cruise tour.

I'm not going to mention the TSS Unslow Steamer, because my conclusion is that it's more than enough to enjoy the Queenstown view.

When traveling with older people, you should always consider their physical fitness, especially if they're elderly. Milford Sound is a tour that traverses the sights of New Zealand's South Island.

However, the drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound takes about 4-5 hours. For older people, it's a tough drive, taking at least 8-10 hours round trip.

If you're going to take a cruise and enjoy the views anyway, the TSS Unslow Steamer is probably a much better option for groups with older adults. The steamboat tour is four hours in total, and the Milford Sound tour is almost a full day.

I would definitely recommend this TSS Unslow Steamship tour again in the future, especially for the stamina factor.

However, I wouldn't dissuade anyone from taking the Milford Sound tour if they're physically confident and want to explore the South Island of New Zealand, as both have their advantages and disadvantages.

If the An experience comparing traveling to Milford Sound on a tour bus with a self-drive.If you are curious about this, please refer to my original post.


When I got back to Queenstown, it was really dark. The wind was also much stronger than it had been on the way up. It was cold and I was trying to get inside, but there was one thing that kept me from going inside. It's the stars.

In New Zealand, it's easy to see stars in the night sky, and Queenstown is known for having more stars than any other city in the country. I sat on the deck of a steamboat and watched the stars in the night sky in silence for a while.

I wanted to take a picture of it, but I didn't have the latest phone, so it didn't turn out very well, and I realized that even if I had a good phone, it wouldn't capture the feeling of being there.

When you board the TSS Unslow Steamer at night, which is synonymous with this Queenstown experience, we highly recommend stepping outside to enjoy the Queenstown night sky. You'll definitely remember those stars for a while back home.

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