By pepper from Canada on 04/02/2012
I travelled with Stray Nov. 2011 and it was absolutely amazing!! Very friendly and easy going travellers onboard and friendly and helpful staff all around - both the bus drivers and the office team!!
I can not say enough good things about my experience with Stray and would highly recommend Stray to all travellers in NZ weather you are there for a long or short stay as long as you want to make the most out of your time, meet great ppl, have a great time - stray is the way to go!
It was sweet as!
By Isha from Netherlands on 05/02/2012
My travels with Stray were the best travels I had in New Zealand. You get to know nice people, and make friends. You see the most beautiful places of New Zealand. It's just the best way to travel.
Great activity in awesome setting
By Jane from France on 07/02/2012
Have just finished travelling NZ and had a fab time meeting lotsa cool people and doin some grt activities. Have to say the best by far was bone carving with Karen and her daughter in there magical spot in Barrytown. We turned up early in the morning to a fantastic spot hidden away in the bush , luckylucky people..heaven. the carving was grt fun and the setting was beautiful. Overall a grt fun activity especially once uve finished ure creation. Highly recommend .
By spongebob from england on 15/02/2012
i did the stray travel for 3 weeks from aucklnd down to christchurch
now this if the first time i have travelled on my own and after meting the 10 people on my bus from auckland and the driver 'trouble'.
now if you get this guy he is a complete and utter lgend however his tatse in music leaves a lot to be desired on first imprssions however by the time you hit rotorua you will be loving kora and the black seeds!!
as for the ompny i must say very well organised but remember you are on holiday so do not stress if the bus is fiv minutes late.
places i would recommend going are in the north island raglan, hahei and blue duck. as for the osuth island abel tasman is paradise, franz josef (you must sky dive at sunset) and queeny. i woud not recommend much time here as you will spend a fortune, great place but very expensive!!
the only down sides are christchurch for obvious reasons and greymouth. if you and stay somewhere else i would recommend it!!
however i have an unforgettable time and would love to do it all over again, plus i made some great friends for life/!!
Short Moe Pass
By R from Canada on 19/02/2012
I will begin the Short Moe pass at the start of April 2012. If you are doing the same and are looking for a travel buddy please feel free to reply to this post.
By on 20/02/2012
I got to New Zealand and wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to do so I signed up for a Stray tour and I'm SOO glad I did. I met so many amazing people and had so much fun. I would recommend Stray to everyone and anyone!
PS Nat and Trouble are the BEST!
By Adrian from Germany on 22/02/2012
I will travlel on the short moe at the 1th march from auckland.
Somebody with me?
By Magdalena from germany on 26/02/2012
I´ve booked the short moe pass and want to start my tour on 4th or 6th march from auckland. Anybody doing the same?
By josh from australia on 09/03/2012
had a good time travelling with you, plenty of new flags had by all.
please please get bigger buses. i'm 6'2 and man the bus travel days were long & uncomfortable on the small buses. the buses are the same as china and japan (been there an done some long days too) good for small people under 5'7; the air con was average to not working at all.
lucky is awesome driver!
had a 7/10 time. rate qtown & ferg burger.
Sensational Stray Experience
By Ciara from Ireland on 09/03/2012
I travelled New Zealand with Stray in June 2011 and I have to say, it was one of the most amazing months of my life.
So I was really disappointed to log on here and find some people complaining about the company. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but I guess it goes back to the age old thing that those who are disappointed can’t wait to have a good rant whereas those that are happy forget about writing the positives.
Well, I’ve finally put pen to paper (or more like fingers to keyboard) to say Stray was one of the best experiences of our four months travelling. We had two drivers Digger and Captain Planet and both were legends! My boyfriend and I spent so much time on Digger’s bus that by the end of the month, he was no longer our bus driver but a good mate who we are still in contact with.
I’ve just read someone giving out about being ripped off. We got a fantastic deal on our Stray trip around New Zealand-way cheaper than travel in other countries such as Australia. And because we were on the Stray bus, we got some great discounts i.e our Nevis tandem swing in Queenstown.
And from my own personal experience, I couldn’t possibly give out about the $75 for Uncle Boys. You don’t have an option for accommodation for that night but that is one of the few times that happens. (Digger used always ring around before we hit a town to find the prices for hostels).
And the Uncle Boys evening is really an experience that money can’t buy! We had a really nice dinner (where we had seconds and thirds) and the Maori evening, of watching the haka was brilliant. I’ve videos of my boyfriend leading the haka that we’ll be laughing about for years. And then afterwards our entire bus walked down to a nearby beach, built a bon fire and enjoyed a few beers together. Going back to sleep in that big Maori room just added to the experience.
And really there is no point giving out about the money. If you’re going travelling, you need to be prepared and have a good budget!!!
For example, if like us, you paid hundreds and hundreds on plane tickets and transport and you get all the ways to Kaikoura in New Zealand, how could you not spend an extra $100 to see the amazing sperm whales in their natural habitat or go swimming with a pod of 150 dolphins??? Don’t get me wrong, we watched our money and our budget every day (we had to!) but God knows when we’ll be back in New Zealand again so where possible, we did as many trips as we could, as many activities as we could and while doing that had some fantastic experiences.
Plus in the long term, I don’t regret any of the money I spent but I do regret some of the stuff I stopped myself doing cos of budgets such as surfing in Raglan (man I wanna go back and surf in Raglan!)
Someone send in their review that they had to spend loads of money after they bought their ticket. Of course you do, travelling isn’t cheap-it’s very very expensive! (The ticket itself was the cheap part). Activities cost a lot of money but the memories last a lifetime.
When it came to free activities, our bus driver Digger made sure to stop so we could all get out and admire (or in some cases gaze in awe) at amazing scenery such as beautiful lakes, fantastic mountains, blow-your-mind away waterfalls and my personal favourite, hundreds of baby seals playing in a tiny pool of water-fantastic moments. Enjoy these experiences-they’re free and often as good as the paid activities.
Of course Stray isn’t flawless. The booking system could be improved and the ‘Mojo Surf’ bus they outsourced had some shading on the windows which sometimes constructed your views. Furthermore, you need to be prepared and plan your route in advance (talk to your driver-his info is invaluable)!!! But the amazingingness of this experience certainly outweighted a few little flaws.
I’d recommend Stray to anyone who wants to have a good time, meet great people, see some amazing places and generally, enjoy their travelling experience.
Most importantly people, chill out, you’re on holidays! The reason the bus is 10 minutes late is prob cos everyone on the bus wanted an extra 5 minutes to admire a great waterfall or grab a cup of coffee. That could be you asking for a toilet break on the next trip while someone else is waiting, so just relax, read a book and remember you’re on holidays!
Before I finish up, here are some of my top recommendations. Blue Duck!!! One of the best days out we had in the whole 4 months of travelling, do some kind of jump in Queenstown, swim with dolphins in Kaikoura, get in the wet zorb ride with friends-you’ll laugh til your stomach hurts, do karoke in makarora, have a savage Fergburger in QT, get to Milford Sounds and enjoy every moment in this amazing country.
Thanks Stray for the memories!!!
one of the best expeiences of my life!!!
By cat from UK, but now live in NZ on 10/03/2012
Hey to all people who have travelled with stray or are thinking about it! (if your the person who's thinking about it but not sure......just do it! you won't regret it!)
I travelled with stray in 2007/2008, i cannot believe i didnt find this forum sooner to comment on my experience. I was travlleing with stray for a total of 4 weeks and omg it was amazing!
Im generally the kind of person that gets really nervous if i dont have plans set in stone and am facing the world on my own (one of the resaons i came to NZ in the first place, to get out of my comfort zone), so when i bought my stray pass and the day arrived that i would begin my travels i was sh***ing myself to be honest! this didnt last long......my first stop was tongagriro national park. within 30 mins of arriving i had already met other people travelling with stray (ah.....relax)! the rest of my trip just got better from this point on! the next day i travelled to Wellington! this was sooooo much fun! the driver i had was so cool he even took us to his mum's house! aw!
Anyway im sure you dont wana read about all the details of my adventure and i also don't realli wana type it all out and take up a whole page of comments lol! The highlights of my stray experience were definatly 1. having a competition between stray travellers and kiwi experience travellers in a hostel bar in wellington (i was soooo close to winning)lol, 2. surfing and riding the flying fox in raglan, 3. my mind blowing skydive in taupo!!! (recommended highly) 4. highhiking in raglan (becaus i had never done it before lol) 5. visiting hot water beach in pahia (gorgeous scenery and natural spring hot pools that you dig urself)!! 6. taking a ride in a monster truck on 90 mile beach! 7. becoming a PA for my driver (ha ha). 8. spending xmas day in taupo and having a proper british xmas dinner!
these are just a few of my personal highlights there wer many more. the thing i value the most out of this trip is the memories i made and the great people i met! it was so much fun to get on the bus at 7am (somedays) and crack open a cold tui just because i could!
This experience changed my life! (i am from the UK but actualli moved out to new zealand and have been living here for 3 years) i fell in love with this country and am now a permanant resident here!
dont waste any more time thinking about taking the chance to change your life! we onli have one life so lets make the most of opportunitys and grab them NOW!!!!!!!
Thanks for reading,
from a true fan of STRAY!!!!! xoxoxoxox :)
By Itziar from España on 21/03/2012
I am thinking about travelling with Stray from Christchurch to Auckland starting 1st April approximately (Dave Pass).
Anyone else doing the same?
Exploring New Zealand
By from UK on 24/03/2012
I had a really good Stray experience exploring New Zealand. It worked out well for the time frame I had. It is a great way to meet people if you are travelling on your own. We had a great driver, Lucky, who was full of energy, fun and enthusiasm, and knowledgable about all the destinations. Thanks.
From Auckland in April
By Bobby from Ireland on 01/04/2012
I'm going around the whole country from Auckland on 9 April. I won't be in any rush, might take a few diversions, and am particularly looking for anybody else who might be interested in doing the Wanganui River Journey, or part thereof. Its one of New Zealand's great walks, but done by canoe, geddit?, over 2-4 days, near to the Blue Duck lodge, one of the coolest stops on the Stray Itinerary (I've been before). Would be late April or thereabouts. Let me know if you're on the bus and interested, or even just on the bus at that time. Bobby
Amazing South Island experience!
By Wyatt from Canada on 06/04/2012
I did the NZ Ron tour and it was amazing! But what made it so fun and amazing was the driver "Trouble" that drove half of my tour. If it wasn't for his friendly personality, his amazing knowledge of the Island, and his passion and love for his job, I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much. He went above and beyond what was expected as he definitely wanted us to have the best experience possible.
So if you travel NZ and get Trouble as your driver, you definitely got more than your moneys worth in the package!
Horrible hostel in Greymouth
By Bruno from USA on 10/04/2012
We were warned... but we didn't listen... LISTEN TO ME PLEASE. Duke's in Greymouth has been the worst hostel we have stayed in so far in our trip, yet the most expensive. (Some say, one of the worst in all of NZ. The beds are terrible and dirty. The bar is directly below rooms and is VERY loud. The kitchen is terrible. They charge Stray people more than people off the street. Very small refrigerators that were set to low setting in the morning.. i.e., it was colder in the kitchen than the frig... yes, they also turned off the heat on first floor. Kitchen was had old EVERYTHING. The place is not equipped for a bus. Stray should take this one off the list. Our entire room considered getting up in the middle of the night and going elsewhere. HORRIBLE!!!!
By on 14/04/2012
We have just spent the last two weeks travelling from Auckland to Christchurch with Stray. During this time we had the pleasure of having Trouble as our guide and could not have had a better experience. Trouble went above and beyond his regular duties to ensure we had an unforgettable trip. The memories and friends made during this time will be cherished forever by all of us. Trouble is a great representative for your company and we would like to formally thank him for giving us a truly Kiwi experience.
Go Play Games
By Kizi from china on 26/04/2012
I like it good
ThanK you Many and to me posting
By Yup from Netherlands on 30/04/2012
When I arrived in New-Zealand, I wasn't sure if you would buy my own car of travel with Stray Travel. I heard good storise about Stray Travel, but my own freedom with car also sounded great.
In the end I chose to travel with the Stray Bus, which was a excellent descision. It's not only that you meet many same-minded people very easily, and that you can relax, sit back and watch the beautiful views...
Besides that, it's very cool that the busdriver, Rob, is super energetic and always cheerful. On top of that he had heaps of information and interesting details about the country, history, nature and cultural aspects.
All kinds of facts that I wouldn't get to know when I was travelling on my own. For that I'm gratefull to travel with Stray. Of course it's also very cool that there are activities arranged every day, and that you don't have to worry about a nice accomodation.
STRAY = OKAY!!
By Janine from England on 04/05/2012
I just really want to Say a huge thank You to 2 drivers that I travelled with last year; Nat and Trouble. I had an absolute blast and amazing time with both of them, I have to apologise to Nat as I was asleep 40% of the time. Other than that it was awesome also Trouble I had an experience i will never forget. Thank u Stray. Janine. Xx
A Priceless Experience
By Danny Foster from Canada on 05/05/2012
I spent seven weeks travelling the entire Stray route in New Zealand during February and March, and would like to share my experiences with those who are considering Stray Travel. The typical Stray passenger is female, in her 20s, and is from Europe (most commonly Germany). Even if you don’t fit this profile, you would be made to feel very welcome by your travel mates. It is an easy-going social atmosphere, and most everyone makes friends easily, so it is an ideal way to travel if you enjoy the companionship of others, and like the assurance that your next night’s accommodation is booked in advance. Depending on where you start your route, you might experience a welcome BBQ provided by Stray, and this is a very enjoyable occasion that facilitates the building of friendships early in the trip.
The hop-on, hop-off feature gives you lots of flexibility to change your plans while on the go. Since everyone has a unique itinerary, you are continually meeting new people, as well as saying good-bye (or “see you next time”) to newfound friends. The busses are quite new, and are clean and well maintained. We had one minor delay when a bus wouldn’t start in Northland, but we were on our way after a short while. I noticed that the busses tended to be quite warm on warmer days and too cool for comfort on cooler days, so plan your wardrobe accordingly. Like everything else in life, your experience will be as satisfying and meaningful as you decide to make it. Every trip will have its small glitches, but if you take these in stride, as Stray passengers generally did, the enjoyment of your experience will be maximized.
The personalities of the drivers varied greatly, but they were all very accommodating and made everyone feel at ease. They clearly chose their job because they like to meet new people, and are suited to the transient lifestyle. The bus drivers deserve a great deal of respect for driving defensively on the narrow winding roads throughout New Zealand, and for their generally good commentary and courtesy. I found that the bus had about the right number of stops at scenic overlooks to take photos and to secure a supply of groceries, but you often have to follow a tight schedule. You won’t likely enjoy all of the music that is played on the bus, as there is quite a diversity that caters to various tastes. Jason, a local Maori, who is the only driver that does the East Cape, was particularly accommodating, and I highly recommend this segment, which is offered in the summer.
In comparing Stray with the two other backpacker bus companies, Kiwi Experience caters primarily to the party crowd, and Magic is more mature like Stray, although it doesn’t venture as far off the beaten path. Stray was the obvious choice for me, and I have no regrets, as it provided me with some of the very best times of my life. Stray passengers are generally very much into outdoor adventure activities. Members of the group are not pressured to participate, thankfully, as these activities do tend to be pricey. New Zealand most certainly has the widest range of outdoor adventures available anywhere, and Stray encourages its passengers to try new activities by getting you to where the action happens, and also provides discounts on most activities (as well as hostels and ferries).
Stray is generally well managed, but its reservations system was an area where some passengers had difficulties, although this wasn’t overly common. The online booking system didn’t always work, and even when one had a reservation, it wasn’t a guarantee that all would go smoothly. For instance, I stayed several nights in Rotorura waiting to catch the bus for the East Cape trip, only to find that I wasn’t on the driver’s pickup list for that day. Luckily, I got the last seat on the bus, but it was too close for comfort! Hopefully, the reservations system glitches have now been fixed, but it’s always a good idea to check the status of your upcoming trip segments online so there are no last minute surprises. If you’re having a problem (and even if you’re not), contact the Stray office and they’ll be happy to do the booking for you.
The scenery everywhere in the country is absolutely spectacular, and New Zealanders obviously take pride in their natural landscape, as it’s kept as pristine as one would find anywhere. I very much enjoyed all the places we visited, and found the out of the way places to be the most memorable. These included Northland, East Cape and Stewart Island. I would also like to have taken the drive south from Christchurch to Dunedin and through the Catlins. Unfortunately, none of the backpacker busses offer this route, and I didn’t bother doing it on my own.
If you decide to stay overnight in Christchurch, it’s wise to book your accommodation yourself well in advance. Two major hostels were destroyed by the earthquake, so lodging is in short supply. Fortunately, space was available for us at the YMCA, which has an ideal central location and very helpful staff. It’s not a major backpacker destination, but there are always lots of transients due to people coming and going at the international airport. Since the earthquake, Stray stops near the airport to drop people off and pick them up. There is no longer an overnight stop in Christchurch, so it’s not overly convenient to stay overnight there, but it’s worth it to see the botanical gardens and excellent Canterbury Museum.
The hostels varied greatly in quality throughout the country, and this was the largest unknown variable of the trip. If you have the opportunity, it’s well worthwhile to do some online research and check out the hostel reviews beforehand, as they are generally quite accurate. Stray passengers with experience generally avoided Base hostels, as they have a reputation for being poorly maintained (apart from Base Queenstown). Base will generally be the default hostel, as Stray has a contract with them (receive a commission), and also with Nomads. BBH seems to be the hostel chain of choice for the more discriminating traveller. The best hostel I stayed at was the Saltwater Lodge in beautiful sub-tropical Paihia.
Auckland hostels are generally the lowest quality, and Queenstown hostels are typically among the highest quality in the country. Nomads Queenstown is an award-winning facility, and one can easily see why. There are several unique stopovers offered by Stray (e.g. Blue Duck Lodge, Gunn’s Camp, Rangitata Rafts, Maraehako Bay Retreat), and this is where Stray distinguishes itself from the competition. The cultural evening at Uncle Boy’s Place in Maketu was a very positive and memorable experience for the group, although you’ll be disappointed with the buffet dinner if you’re expecting authentic Maori food. Duke Hostel in Greymouth was criticized by other reviewers, but we had a fun-filled evening there at the pub’s innovative “trash bag” costume party, and the congenial host provided 2-for-1 drinks.
This trip yielded many happy memories that will last a lifetime for us all, and basically everything exceeded my expectations. While the scenery is indescribably beautiful throughout all of New Zealand, undoubtedly the most meaningful part of the trip were the many memorable experiences I shared with my Stray travelling companions. It was very enriching and enlightening to learn about various cultures and the travel experiences of others. One doesn’t get to connect with people in the same meaningful way with other forms of travel. I’m now corresponding with some of my travel mates via e-mail and Facebook, and I’m certain that some of the group will develop strong bonds and become lifelong friends. There is a very good chance that you’ll develop meaningful friendships wherever you go with Stray, especially if you show an interest in others. Some of the females met compatible people that they are now continuing to travel with in other areas of the world, such as Thailand, where it is not advisable to travel alone.
If you want to share unique experiences with people from other cultures, and travel in a safe and friendly environment, then travelling with Stray can’t be beat. The experience is, quite simply, priceless. This way of travelling should be common the world over, but unfortunately it is virtually unique to New Zealand. The diversity of landscapes and abundant recreational opportunities have helped to make this a backpackers’ haven. Stray does offer a similar trip in Southeast Asia, and I will hopefully do that trip sometime, now that I’ve experienced some of the best times of my life with this type of vacation.
I am a Stray Mate, so if you have any questions about specific destinations, hostels or anything at all you’re unsure about, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m “Canada - Danny” on the Ask a Stray Mate webpage. Also, if you would like to check out my 800 or so travel photos, you can find those on Flickr at “dannymfoster”. They will give you a very good idea of the spectacular scenery that you’ll see along the way and the friendly travelling companions you’ll undoubtedly have the good fortune to meet.
By Trisha McNaughton from Ireland on 14/05/2012
I travelled with Stray for 3 weeks in Feb and had the time of my life. I met so many people mostly from europe but everyone was easy going which made the trip for me a lot easier for me. Our bus and driver in the North Island was brilliant, Trouble i think i can say this on behalf of our whole bus we missed you when we parted ways in Wellington. I loved NZ and will def come back and travel with stray again to see the parts that we missed.
By Manisha from UK on 20/05/2012
Anyone doing both islands in Jan 2013?
By Mathew from England on 20/05/2012
Did the full tour 14th April-18th May. What an amzing country!! The places I've seen and the people I've met were AWESOME.
BIG THANKS to 4 of my drivers: Rob, Gollum, Chase & Bear. Thanks for the parties/BBQ's and general help with booking of trips etc... SWEET AS guys & girls... hope to be back in October!!
Tip to anyone going on the Stray Bus:
1: Help the drivers by being on time....they have a timetable too....
2: Have fun, and get stuck into the activities. I did my 1st skydive at Franz Joseph.... never thought I would....
3: Be open to meeting loads of people on the bus. I've come away with loads new mates....
By Jo from United Kingdom on 02/06/2012
Would just like to say a MASSIVE Thank you to one of the Best Drivers on Stray!!! Whales was Awesome, defiantly made the trip unforgetable... Thank you again WHALES!!! :O) Remember all Stray traveller your trip is what you make of it! Have fun & enjoy every minute!!! Also like to add that if you get a chance to do the AJ Hackett Nevis Swing DOOOOO IIIITTT!!! So worth it the most amazing experience ever!!! Thank you STRAY x
Deep South Island
By Jo from ENGLAND on 04/06/2012
Again i have commented on my Amazing journey with STRAY! But i would also like to mention that my trip down to Milford Sounds was fantastic! ET Was a fantastic driver... had so many laughs & don't think i've smiled this much in a very long time. THANK YOU ET!!! x JO x
Very nice experience
By Eva from The Netherlands on 06/06/2012
Last month I did the most northern part of New Zealand, by traveling from Auckland to Paihia and Cape Reinga.
I was surprised at how nice it was. The stray driver knew a lot, and made a lot of nice (free) stops along the way. I was really an experience in stead of only a bus ride.
Cape Reinga was Beautiful by the way, If your not sure if you want to do this day trip, please, just do it! And don't forget to go sand dune surfing, that was awesome ;)
I like stray because I met some really nice people on the bus. Most of them between 22 and 30 years old, so perfect for me. I loved it!
By Laura from NZ on 06/06/2012
In April I took my boyfriend up to Paihea for his birthday because I had already been up there with Stray before and had a great time. However this time when we went up, not only were we told the wrong to be picked up and almost missed our trip all together, but we didn't get to go on the boat ride. I specifically went into the stray office to ensure this wouldn't be a problem but it still was. And when I contacted Stray after they pretty much just stopped their contact without explanation. Because for the price I could have driven up for cheaper but because of the boat ride it seemed worth it. Sorry to say but I was let down with this trip.
By Caroline from Ireland on 11/06/2012
A massive MASSIVE thank you to Stray for the best month! Covered both Islands, made fantastic friends and loved every second. Wouldn't have been possible without the help, laughs and general awesomeness of the drivers, Bear, Chase, Whales and ET, ye are brilliant! Some very funny memories!!
To anyone considering Stray, don't hesitate, DO IT NOW! The unique stops are completely worth it and make the experience extra special. Give it your all and you're guaranteed to love it as much as I did!
By Heleen Lamm from Netherlands on 12/06/2012
In juli/august of 2010 I traveled around the southern and northern island in NZ with Stray. It was the best trip I had ever done and the places we visited were amazing. We had a small bus which was really nice, because we had a small group of travelers. They were all great and we had the best time! the whale watching in kaikoura was amazing, the hostel in picton was great and bungy jumping in queenstown is a must!! our busdriver Hoff was really good and super enthusiastic, which made de experience even more fun. thanks stray!
By Rachel from Wales on 13/06/2012
I have just got back from travelling around New Zealand for the year some of it I did on my own and some of it I did with friends. For the last three weeks I travelled with Stray on Chase's bus going round the S Island. I genuinely had the most amazing time on the stray bus. The south island is absolutely stunning and you get to hear so much about its history whilst on the bus. The stray bus also provides such a variety of activities that you can make the tour suit you. From blind Karaoke (optional) to amazing walks in Abel Tasman or Mount Cook to sky diving over the fox glacier or shots in Queenstown it really was an experience and a half.
I really think the driver makes the stray experience and Chase you rocked it!
What to do!
By Andy from England on 01/07/2012
I have From 1st of dec 2012 to 4th Jan 2013.. What pass do i pick!?
Is anyone else over there in this time? Do stray operate on Xmas day/New years day?
By Daniel from Costa Rica on 05/07/2012
I was travelling around New Zealand for 3 months and the last weeks I started to use Stray. Everything was much easier! you meet great people, great bus drivers and awesome places you won't go alone! Stray is an easy and fun way to travel around!
We're so glad we Stray'ed in New Zealand
By Glyn from england on 08/07/2012
Me and my wife spent 2 months travelling around NZ in March/April on the "Stray Everywhere Pass" and can only praise Stray for their wonderful service from start to finish. All the drivers were great but a special mention has to go to TROUBLE - an awesome bloke and a great guide/driver. Thanks for making New Zealand the highlight of our travels and for showing us some of its hidden treasures.
The bus had a good mix of age ranges (we werent the oldies being in our late 20's) /nationalities (mostly european) and everyone came together as a group (especially after our cutural night at Uncle Boys!) by throwing themselves into the activites and all mixing in. This was helped greatly by the work done by the drivers, such as group BBQ's/nights out/setting a fun and friendly atmosphere from the start (ie just ask Seagull how he earnt his drivers name)
If you are able to and are travelling at the right time of year, the "Stray Everywhere Pass" is well worth doing as you get to see some fantastic "extras" - from meeting a Kiwi (the bird) on the trip north to Paihia, going crayfishing (and eating them) at the stunning Maraehako Bay with its laid back rustic East Coast charm or having your breath taken away by the beauty of Milford Sound.....so personally its definately worth the extra time and money if the option is available to you.
We are so glad we went "off the beaten track". Keep up the great work and please pass on our thanks to Trouble.
Glyn and Samatha Spence
1 Year Later...
By Sharlotte from England on 09/07/2012
Well 1 (and a bit) years later my travels to New Zealand are still fresh in my mind. I travelled between the 22nd Feb 2011 - April 1st 2011 and I can still remember everything and everywhere that I went! Never undertaking the backpacking route before I was apprehensive, I mean lone female travelling alone? How would that fair? However it was the safest, most fun-est thing that I have ever done! I decided to take the Stray Everywhere Pass, when in New Zealand why miss the opportunity to be able to see everything comfortably (unless you haven't got the time, then you have an excuse, but you know what MAKE THE TIME! :D) and got to see unbelievable beauty such as the quaint town of Queenstown with its stunning mountainside views, or the clean safe streets of Wellington, the eerie prehistoric heights of Milfords Sound, right up to the beach front hostels that you stay in, that has etched its place in my mind and heart for the rest of my life. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me as a StrayMate, but don't just take my word for it, do it.
By Meaveen from Australia on 25/07/2012
I decided on a whim to do a 10-day tour of the South Island with four of my Brazilian ESL students (aged 18 - 24) who had already booked with Stray. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but it turned out to be a great experience all round - lots of fun and fabulous scenery. Stray certainly lived up to its promise of taking us off the beaten track.
What really made the difference was our driver - Chase - who went above and beyond the call of duty time after time. Examples:
- on the first night at Marahau she cooked a delicious dinner of green-lipped mussels and pavlova for all of us - we ate like kings for $15.
- she'd check our plans and go out of her way to make them happen, giving us lifts when off duty to the start of walks and carrying all our heavy bags into the different hostels while we went gallivanting around various scenic spots.
- endless and patient repetition of activity options and prices, and general information. This was mainly because people didn't listen or had their headphones on.
- dealing well with difficult and indecisive travellers. The other people on the bus were brilliant, but there were times when some of them didn't seem aware of the effort that was being made. e.g., Both Chase and the travel agent at BASE in Queenstown - Rachel - put in over an hour of unpaid time when the shop should have been shut to organise ski trips and lift passes etc.
- Adjusting the timetable to cater for extra activities people wanted to do - e.g., getting us all to Franz Josef in time for people to do skydives at sunset.
- generally just being very approachable, fun, flexible and making sure everyone had a good time.
All this ensured everyone got the most of their trip, and packed in far more activities with a lot less hassle than would have been possible otherwise.
I'd love to go back and do the trip all over again - thanks, Chase!
Trip of a lifetime
By Marie from England on 27/07/2012
I travelled on the Stew Pass at the beginning of July 2012 and have to say it was the most amazing experience ever!! Met some lovely people, saw the most beautiful scenary ever and had the time of my life!! Big shout out to ET who was a fun, approachable, very knowledgable and all round awesome driver- especially skillful with the wintery roads!
If you stay at Gunns Camp, take the advice about keeping your fire going seriously...or else you end up like ice cubes by the morning! Do the Milford Sounds Cruise- it was breath taking and we even had dolphins swimming round our boat!
You get from this trip what you put in to it! Join in with the fun and you'll have fun! Don't be shy- I was a lone female 22 year old traveller and felt completely safe and at ease with everyone on the bus. Group meals are a great way to save cost with eating and you get a really decent meal! $10 one night for a 3 course home made meal cooked by our driver Dippy :) And it's a fab opportunity to find out more about your travelling friends.
I would definitely travel with Stray again! You get so much knowledge and information from the drivers about the places your going to and the sights you are seeing, have great fun and get amazing discounts! It's not a party bus which I loved, but was still able to have a few drinks with dinner some nights and had an awesome night out in Queenstown! I would recommend Stray to anyone! Memories for life!
Thanks Stray! Marie x
Straying in NZ...
By Jenny Johnson from UK on 27/07/2012
Firstly I wanted to say a big thank you to the whole of the Stray Team, for organising my bus bookings and giving me the most fantastic tour of the wonderful country that is New Zealand!
Special thanks goes to Gravel, who was my driver from Auckland to Queenstown. He has so much enthusiasm and love for his country and this is really shown in his tour guiding skills. I learnt so many interesting facts about New Zealand while on his bus and have really grown to miss his reggae music! Please pass on my thanks to him.
Also a special thank you to Chase, who drove us very safely from Mount Cook to Rangitata in the snowy conditions and then providied us with a delicious meal in the evening.
And then a special thank you to Wales, who got us from Wellington to Auckland safely, despite gear failure on the bus!
I really have had an amazing time in New Zeland. This is mainly due to Stray making it so easy to travel to the remote parts of NZ and showing me the real NZ, rather than just the towns that most people get to see when travelling. I even persuaded some people on the Kiwi Experience bus that Stray was better!
There are no negatives about travelling in the winter. I loved it how the buses were small, so you could really get to know everyone on the bus really well. Plus there was snow and I seemed to get the impression there is less likelihood of getting bitten to death by sand flies in certain locations, compared to the summer!
My favourite activity to do was definitely the Tongariro Crossing. Then I would say my favourite lodges were the Karioi Lodge (Whale Bay, Raglan), Blue Duck Station and then Te Nikau Retreat (Punakaiki).
Thanks once again Stray!