Walter Peak, Queenstown
Walter peak station we reached on the TSS Earnslaw. The Homestead is large and beautiful, with just as nice gardens to match!
Upon arrival at the Colonel's Homestead, Morning or Afternoon tea awaits....scones and pikelets topped with jam and cream as well as tea and coffee.
Here, for all those city dwellers, is a chance to see the clever Sheep dogs in action, they show you how clever they are, and just how much time they save the Sheep farmer. It is a chance to learn a little about farming and to meet and greet some farm animals.
After the TSS Earnslaw boat trip across Lake Wakatipu (see previous tip), you will disemabark at the Walter Peak High Country Farm for a buffet BBQ lunch which includes grilled fish, beef steaks, lamb chops, pork spare ribs and chicken drumsticks.
Lunch is followed by a guided tour of the farm with a sheep dog and sheep shearing demostration.
We were there in springtime and the gardens were ablaze with the colours of spring blossoms.
Season: Sep - May -daily departures
Duration: 3 hrs 30 mins
Prices from: NZ$93 adult & NZ$45 child
Walter Peak Station is a 25,758 hectare working high country sheep farm on the southern shore of Lake Wakatipu. It runs 1500 sheep and 1000 cattle. The sheep are hardy merino in the higher regions and peridale on the lower slopes.
The homestead of the farm (The Colonel’s Homestead) is used for hosting tourists that cruise the lake on board the TSS Earnslaw.
By ship Walter Peak Station is only 13 km from Queenstown. If you try to get there by road you must drive south via Lumsden, then west to Mossburn and turn onto a gravel road (Mt. Nicolas Road) near The Key. This is 124 km! The station has had a special lease for 30 years since 1998. The agreement limits the number of stock that can graze the area (3180 sheep including not more than 1360 breeding ewes and 1500 cattle including not more than 910 breeding cows). The agreement includes the tourism activities.
Walter Peak Station and adjoining Cecil Peak Station are named after the mountains with the same names, and those again are named after Cecil Walter Rees, the son of William Gilbert Rees. William Gilbert Rees was the first settler of Queenstown and had a sheep run at the place where the township of Queenstown is now. Cecil Peak is 1974 metres high and Walter Peak slightly lower.
If you have a spare NZ$ 2 or 3 million you could buy into a development which has been carved off Walter Peak Station ;-) The American developer is selling up at the moment. He wanted to build a luxury lodge and several cottages on a 38 hectare site. If you want to develop the whole site it could easily cost you between NZ$ 50 and 80 million... 75,000 plants have already been established, so you do not have to do everything ;-))) (This info is as December 2008.)
This is a packaged min tour that includes a ride of an old steamer boat, TSS Earnslaw to a hide-away country farm where they show you how to shear sheep's wool and how the dogs how to wrangle herds of sheep. At the farm, there is a nice colonial building where high tea can be enjoyed. The farm is very serene and away from any urban life.
After dinner at the colonel's homestead at Walter Peak, we are given a farm tour, where we are allowed to feed the sheep, goats, babay lamb and deer. Beautiful long haired calves and some really cute baby animals. There are also sheep dog demonstations and sheep shearing.
After 45 minutes cruising the lake on TSS Earnslaw, we arrive at Walter Peak, home of the original High Country Sheep Station, wher you can have dinner in the colonel's homestead. The house is beautiful, in a very nice setting overlooking the lake.
Well, although I did sit on the bull's back, I can't really say I rode it! The bull is one of the most enormous animals I've ever seen, and it was incredibly placid! Just as well!