Ernest Kemp Cruises offer two hour daily cruises on Lake Taupo to the Māori Rock Carvings.
The Ernest Kemp was built in 1980 and is a replica of a traditional steamboat. It 48 feet in length and can travel at speed of 9 knots. The vessel is named after the great grandson of early settlers and missionaries James and Charlotte Kemp.
The cruise departs 10:30am, 2pm and 5pm. The 5pm cruise is only offered October to April.
I am not sure the number of passengers Ernest Kemp can take but they definitely fill it to the brim during the summer months. It felt like sardines, which dampened the enjoyment of the experience a bit.
The skipper will provide live commentary pointing out interesting landmarks and make recommendations on activities to do in the area.
We passed the Barbary, a 1926 recently refurbished yacht that once belonged to actor Errol Flynn. Legend has it that Flynn won the yacht in a card game.
The highlight of the cruise is of course the Māori rock carvings at Okuta Bay (also known as Mine Bay), which can only be viewed from the water. Ernest Kemp Cruises claim to be the boat that gets you closest to the carvings. Although a kayak would probably be the best option for one wanting the closest experience to the carvings.
Some visitors may be disappointed to learn that the carvings are not hundreds of years old. Work on the carvings began in 1978 by carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell as a gift to the people of Taupo.
The main cliff carving at 10 metres in height is of Ngatoroirangi, a Māori navigator who guided the tribes of Tuwharetoa and Te Arawa to Taupo over a thousand years ago.
Children are offered an opportunity to skipper the vessel and receive a certificate. They also offer complimentary tea, coffee or hot chocolate with a cookie. Complimentary beer, wine or soft drink is offered on the 5pm cruise.