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TSS Earnslaw

New sponsor for Queenstown Winter Festival a local hero

Media release 20 April 2017: Real Journeys fires up for Queenstown Winter Festival‘s 2017 Friday Night Party & Fireworks

The 43rd Queenstown Winter Festival has a new sponsor for one of festival goers’ favourite events – the Real Journeys Friday Night Party and Fireworks on 23 June 2017.

Real Journeys sponsorship for the night covers the legendary Friday Night Fireworks, four hours of mainstage entertainment and a new Festival event initiative acknowledging community heroes.

“Queenstown Winter Festival is at its heart an event celebrating our community,’ said Lisa Buckingham, Queenstown Winter Festival Director.

“We are thrilled to have Real Journeys, a company at the heart of our town coming on board as a key sponsor in 2017.”

The Friday night lights will be even more spectacular for extra special group of Festival goers as Real Journey’s and the TSS Earnslaw will host a ‘Thank You Cruise’ that will culminate with sitting pole position on the lakefront to watch the annual fireworks extravaganza.

Real Journeys Chief Executive Richard Lauder says that when Queenstown Winter Festival approached Real Journeys about sponsorship for the Friday Party and Fireworks being available, they felt that the fireworks should be sponsored by a local company and were keen to be involved. 

“People come for the festival from all over Southland and Otago, the areas in which we operate, and we’re pleased to be associated with such a unique Queenstown event,” said Mr Lauder.

“What better way than the Queenstown Winter Festival’s legendary party and fireworks and now the ‘Thank You Cruise’ to thank the community for its support and celebrate all that is remarkable about where we live and operate.”

Frequently the TSS Earnslaw is in dry dock during the Festival, but not in 2017.

“It’s such a part of Queenstown’s heritage we couldn’t leave our 104 year old steamship out of the party,” said Mr Lauder. 

“Since we can’t have everyone on board, we figured the best way would be to invite those unsung heroes who work so hard to make our community the amazing place it is, hence the ‘Thank You Cruise’.” 

The free hour-long celebratory cruise of the Frankton Arm will include a beverage and canapes served on board the Earnslaw and will precede the fireworks.  All the local heroes on board will go in the draw for the honour of tooting the Earnslaw horn to signal the start of the fireworks which they then are sitting up close and personal to watch from her deck.

The ‘Thank You Cruise’ is run in addition to Real Journeys ‘Cruise-for-a-Cause’ which has raised $60,000 over the last two years for four charities. For the past 43 years Queenstown Winter Festival has also supported local charities and this years’ local groups will be announced in May.

The mainstage music line up for the Real Journeys Friday Night Party and Fireworks is under wraps until 27 April and promises to deliver another twist in the renewed Festival programme.

Details of the 43rd Queenstown Winter Festival programme will start being released in April 2017. The best way to be the first to know is to sign up to the Friends of Festival mailing list on the Festival website, and follow the Festival on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.


Contact: Simone Flight
Media Relations Manager
[email protected]


The Queenstown Winter Festival celebrates the start of winter as only Queenstown can. From 22-25 June 2017 from lake front to mountain top Queenstown brims with locals and visitors, street parties, music, comedy, family fun and wintery themed madness. Visit and sign up to the Friends of Festival mailing list and follow the Festival on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

The Real Journeys ‘Thank You Cruise’ will recognise and celebrate volunteers. Anyone from Otago or Southland is eligible to be nominated for the Thank You Cruise. Nominated people will have undertaken unpaid work, performing good deeds in the community in their own time. Fifty community heroes will be chosen and provided with four tickets each. The selection committee consists of representatives from Real Journeys and Queenstown Winter Festival. Nominations open on 20 April, and close by 1 June. Nominations can be made via the Festival website