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Spirit of Queenstown



Giant catamaran closer to destination

Last updated 05:00 21/08/2013
Spirit of Queenstown 

Spirit of Queenstown on Bluff Rd.


The Spirit of Queenstown will soon be home.

The 60-tonne, 150-seat purpose-built catamaran was lifted on to the back of a semi-trailer and escorted up the Bluff Highway towards Invercargill at 9am yesterday, seven days after leaving Brisbane.

It arrived in Athol about 4.30pm yesterday and will continue on its journey to Kingston today.

Engineers from Brisbane travelled with the Spirit of Queenstown to supervise the removal of the cockpit and its reinstatement.

Southern Discoveries general manager John Robson said sea trials and the Tasman crossing had gone "exceptionally well" and the skippers were very satisfied with the way the boat had performed.

"We've had daily updates from her crew and they've been impressed with how she manoeuvres in the water.

"They're excited to get her home to Lake Wakatipu," Mr Robson said.

She is due to make her maiden voyage into Queenstown Bay tomorrow.

As of November, the boat will run tours around Lake Wakatipu, giving guests an option to visit Mt Nicholas Station on the west side of the lake.

"We can't wait for her official launch and maiden voyage, which will incorporate an official Maori blessing to welcome her to the lake," Mr Robson said.

Lake ready to taste the Spirit of Queenstown

John Edens in Queenstown  Last updated 05:00 22/08/2013

Spirit of Queenstown


The multimillion-dollar Spirit of Queenstown will make her maiden voyage on Lake Wakatipu today.

The 51-tonne, 150-seat Southern Discoveries catamaran arrived by transporter in Kingston yesterday after leaving Bluff on Tuesday, a little over a week since leaving Brisbane. She crossed the Tasman Sea in three-and-a-half days.

The cockpit of the 26-metre long high-speed vessel was removed at Bluff for the road trip to Kingston.

Engineers from Australian shipwright firm Aluminium Marine accompanied the vessel to supervise the removal and reinstatement of the cockpit.

Yesterday, Southern Discoveries general manager John Robson said she arrived at 11am after an overnight stop in Athol.

The transport job by Scobies Transport was smooth sailing.

"The cockpit is on and the windows have to be put back in. The plan is for a lift into the water about midday."

The new Southern Discoveries Mt Nicholas trip starts in November and will rival the classic Queenstown trip aboard the TSS Earnslaw run by Real Journeys.

Spirit of Queenstown will be moored at O'Regan's wharf and trips to Mt Nicholas Station will include woolshed tours, high country walks, cycling and safari excursions.

Spirit of Queenstown makes it to Lake Wakatipu

Last updated 15:39 22/08/2013
GRANT BRYANT/The Southland Times

Sir Clifford Skeggs speaks at the launch of the Spirit of Queenstown on Lake Wakatipu. - Video at top of page

Southland Times photo
The Spirit of Queenstown was launched in the Southern Lakes District today.

The multi million-dollar Spirit of Queenstown was lowered into Lake Wakatipu at Kingston today to make her way to her new base in Queenstown.

The 51-tonne, 150-seat Southern Discoveries catamaran needed extra gentle maneuvering into the water after it was discovered lake levels were lower than expected.

The task was accomplished by two large cranes.

The vessel arrived by transporter in Kingston yesterday after leaving Bluff on Tuesday, a little more than a week since leaving Brisbane. She crossed the Tasman Sea in three-and-a-half days.

Sir Clifford Skeggs, patriarch of the Skeggs family, who own Southern Discoveries, and an old hand at commissioning ship builds and international transports, was on hand to see the final stages of the homeward maiden voyage went smoothly, and was satisfied with the results. 

Southern Discoveries trips to Mt Nicholas aboard the Spirit of Queenstown will begin in November and will rival the classic Queenstown trip aboard the TSS Earnslaw run by Real Journeys.

 Spirit of Queenstown lowered into water at kingston

The wind picked up and Sir Clifford Skeggs nervously remarked ''we should have another boat here'' to help shelter the airborne catamaran.

An army of orange-vested men and two cranes - one of which made a special last-minute trip from Christchurch to join its Invercargill colleague - slowly but surely lowered the 26m-long, 8m-wide boat into Lake Wakatipu at Kingston at noon yesterday.

Those who had turned out at Kingston's wharf clicked continually on their cameras.

The Spirit of Queenstown is the latest addition to Southern Discoveries' family which includes four Milford Sound vessels, the Blue Duck Cafe and Bar in Milford, four information centres in Te Anau and Queenstown, the Go Milford coach service, 50% ownership of KJet, and other services.

Apart from having to bring in a second crane which ''made it a wee bit more expensive'', all went to plan, much to the relief of Sir Clifford, whose family owns Southern Discoveries.

''[I'm] absolutely relieved ... there were some very tense moments.''

After its maiden voyage from Kingston to Queenstown the catamaran was welcomed into Queenstown Bay by KJet jet boats, an enthusiastic welcoming crowd and more clicking cameras.

From November, the boat will take up to 150 passengers on tours to Mt Nicholas.

At present, Real Journeys' TSS Earnslaw takes passengers across the lake to Walter Peak. Sir Clifford said the Spirit of Queenstown offered ''a modern service versus the historic steamship''.

''It's a wee bit speculative, of course - it's a new venture. We believe it's got reasonably good potential.''

The multimillion-dollar catamaran was purpose-built in Australia by Aluminium Marine.

Project manager and engineer Jack Louwerse said usually the company built boats for ocean use and for use in the tropics.

"This time, where there would usually be air-conditioning there were heaters, Mr Louwerse said, and where you would have more cover on the boat from tropical rain ''obviously here you want to be in the sun''.

New Queenstown tourist boat arrives on lake



Queenstown’s newest tourist attraction has arrived.

Multi-million dollar catamaran Spirit of Queenstown glided into Queenstown bay at 3pm this afternoon (main picture), flanked by two jet boats.

The 150-seat Southern Discoveries vessel was craned into the lake at Kingston yesterday before the journey.

Built in Brisbane, Spirit of Queenstown crossed the Tasman Sea in three-and-a-half days before being partially dismantled and trucked from Bluff, Southland, on Tuesday.

Skipper Richard Moore (bottom left), who’s worked on Milford Sound for 23 years, says: “She’s a real little ship.

“She’s built for the ocean and we’ve brought her over from Australia with no problem at all so she’ll handle the lake, even though a lake can surprise at times.”

The 51-ton purpose-built catamaran is moored at O’Regan’s Wharf and will begin trips to Mt Nicholas Station later this year – rivalling Real Journey’s century-old Lady of the Lake the TSS Earnslaw. The trips will include woolshed tours, country walks and cycling tours.

Southern Discoveries is part of the $100m Skegg’s family business.

Founder Sir Clifford Skeggs and son David (bottom right), who runs the firm with his brothers, were on-board as the Spirit of Queenstown made her maiden voyage on Lake Wakatipu.

David Skeggs says: “We’re absolutely delighted and very excited for the new venture on the lake later this year.

“I’ve come in from Kingston this morning and she’s smooth as anything, like driving a car.”

Final touches to the interior of the 26-metre long high-speed catamaran will be completed over the coming weeks.


Southern Discoveries’ Spirit of Queenstown Home Safe

Southern Discoveries’ Spirit of Queenstown Home Safe and Sound On Lake Wakatipu

Multi-million dollar catamaran Spirit of Queenstown arrived safe and sound at her new home on Lake Wakatipu yesterday afternoon (Thursday August 22).

Flanked by two KJet Jet boats, the ‘Spirit’ glided her way seamlessly into Queenstown Bay bang on time at 3pm and was greeted by staff and the general public who clapped and cheered as she docked at O’Regans Wharf.

Those who want to take a closer look will soon be able to do so.

There will be an open day on the Spirit of Queenstown next Tuesday August 27 for the general public to get their first glimpse of the interiors. People will be able to get up-close and discover what this new state-of-the-art vessel has to offer from 11am to 1pm.

There will be opportunities to check out the open wheelhouse and people can have their photo taken with the ‘Skipper’ and staff will be on hand to answer any questions.

Queenstown’s newest tourism attraction has had quite a journey over the last few weeks, taking to the open seas off Brisbane, Australia on July 21 for sea trials.

After three-and-a-half days at sea, she arrived on schedule into Bluff, Southland last Thursday August 15 where she spent the weekend being waterproofed and readied for her road trip north to Queenstown.

The purpose-built 26m high-speed catamaran successfully navigated the narrow streets of Invercargill on Monday 19 August, a striking sight as she made her way through the city bringing traffic to a halt and capturing the attention of the general public en route.


It took just two days for the ‘Spirit’ to make her way by road to Kingston, spending the night outside Athol on Monday, and she was lowered by crane into Lake Wakatipu at 12pm yesterday.

Supervised the whole way by engineers from Australian boat building company Aluminium Marine Pty Ltd of Brisbane, the ‘Spirit’ was skippered by long-serving Southern Discoveries captain Richard Moore who steered the catamaran into Queenstown Bay and her mooring at O’Regans Wharf.

Southern Discoveries owner Sir Clifford Skeggs jumped aboard the impressive ship for her maiden lake voyage, accompanied by his son David Skeggs, Managing Director of the Skeggs Group Ltd and close family and friends.

Sir Clifford expressed his joy that Spirit of Queenstown had arrived safely in her new home.

“It’s nice to see her finally arrive and it was great to be on board as she made her way into the Bay. Lovely to see a good crowd of people welcome her in as well,” said Sir Clifford.

“She runs really well, so smooth and quiet.”

Southern Discoveries’ Skipper Richard Moore said the boat was “a dream to captain”.

“She’s a real little ship. Made for the ocean but will live on the lake. I’m looking forward to starting the trips to Mt Nicholas,” said Mr Moore.

Spirit of Queenstown will operate unique tours to Mt Nicholas Station for an authentic and nature-based experience.

From early November she will carry up to 150 passengers from Queenstown across the pristine waters of Lake Wakatipu to Mt Nicholas which boasts uninterrupted views to Mt Earnslaw and up the lake to Glenorchy, as well as rolling hills, hidden valleys and lakes, and the opportunity to see a working high country station. 

Experiences on offer at the normally inaccessible Mt Nicholas Station, which has undergone some developments in order to host trips, will include a woolshed experience, half day high country walks, cycling and musterer safari trips into the high country. 

Details of the official launch and maiden public voyage will be announced shortly and will include a Maori blessing.

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