This tour operates in our off-peak season between 16 May - 6 Oct 2017
View the Mackinnon Summer tour (departing 7 Oct 2017 - 5 May 2018)
The Mackinnon Tour is named after a New Zealand explorer and tour guide, originally from Argyllshire, Scotland. Mackinnon emigrated to New Zealand in the 1870s and was employed by the Otago Survey Department to try and find a tourist route into Milford Sound. In 1888 he was successful in discovering a path across the rugged landscape and named it Mackinnon's Pass. Follow in Mackinnon's footsteps exploring the South Island, taking in the diverse and stunning landscapes, and seeing all the highlights.
Winter Tour Highlights
Scroll through the gallery below to see some of the highlights!
Winter Tour Inclusions
All transport: You'll travel in our comfortable mid-sized coaches around New Zealand.
Experienced tour guide: Expect entertaining commentary, insight into local secrets and extra support from your tour guide.
Accommodation: 14 nights’ dorm-share accommodation in a variety of quality backpacker hostels, wilderness lodges and cabins. Upgrades to twin and single rooms are available - email email@example.com to book.
Top rated activities:
- Marahau/Abel Tasman: Aqua Taxi
- Wanaka: Scenic bike ride around the lake
- Queenstown: Shotover Jet
- Queenstown: Day trip to Doubtful Sound
What's not included?
- Additional activities not specified as included on the itinerary. These can be booked via your guide, often at an exclusive Stray special price!
What to Bring
Sturdy walking shoes (ankle high), swimming gear, hat and sunscreen, motion sickness tablets, water bottle, towel and toiletries, warm clothing and waterproof jacket, insect repellent, camera.
- During Winter our Stray Journeys are operated on our hop-on hop-off bus network. This means some passengers on your trip who are travelling on flexible passes will be hopping on and off the bus. Stray Journeys passengers will follow a fixed itinerary with specified inclusions. You can expect to travel on a modern comfortable bus (mid-coach) and to be led by a knowledgeable Driver Guide.
- The winter rate includes a discount off the full retail Summer 2016-17 rates and applies to Journeys travelled 1 May - 30 September 2017.
- No meals are included.
- All rates are in NZD, per person, and are subject to change.
- A 15% discount off these rates is available for children aged between 7 - 17 years old travelling with a parent or legal guardian. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to book. Stray Journeys are not suited to children under 7 years old.
Winter departures: 16 May - 6 October 2017
Departs from: Christchurch International Airport.
Day: Sundays & Tuesdays
You can select your departure date and check availability at checkout.
Summer Departures: 7 October - 5 May 2018 - Summer itineraries differ so if you're interested in booking the Mackinnon Journey in the summer season click here.
Your trip starts with an early departure from Christchurch. Once out of the city, we head north across the Southern Alps through scenic Lewis Pass and drive past Nelson Lakes National Park on our way to our next destination Picton, a picturesque town nestled on the edge of the stunning Marlborough Sounds. Feel free to unwind this evening in the spa pool at the accommodation.
You have a full free day in Picton to discover the charms of the Marlborough Sounds. We highly recommend catching a water taxi to walk or mountain bike a section of the unbelievably beautiful Queen Charlotte Track. Alternatively, you can take advantage of the free fishing gear and bikes at your Picton accommodation.
You have the morning free to explore Picton further. Meet your group at the hostel at midday and we will cruise through the famous Marlborough vineyard area and the coastal town of Nelson, before heading to our amazing overnight stop of Marahau, right on the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park.
You have the entire day free to explore this stunning coastal national park renowned for its golden sand beaches. Hike, sail, kayak or skydive – Abel Tasman National Park is gorgeous no matter which option you choose.
Today we head south towards the ‘wild’ West Coast passing through Buller Gorge and down a stretch of road that was rated one of the Top 10 drives in the world by Lonely Planet. We stop at Cape Foulwind to visit the seal colony and then head for the historic coal mining town, Westport. The sunset from our accommodation tonight is a must see if the weather is clear!
An early start takes us further down the rugged West Coast to the spectacular limestone Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and blowholes. We’ll stop to take a short walk and grab refreshments at the café before we head for the historic gold mining town, Greymouth. We do pick-ups in Greymouth and make a stop in Hokitika before reaching the quaint little town of Franz Josef, home to the mighty Franz Josef Glacier.
Enjoy a full free day to explore the glacier. Live your glacier walking dream with a guided tour on the glacier or hike to view it from below, then unwind in the spa pools afterwards.
Depart early to take a walk to the mirror-like Lake Matheson, stop at Fox Glacier for pickups, and then travel through the mountainous Haast Pass and Makarora. We pass by the beautiful Lake Hawea and arrive in Wanaka late afternoon.
This morning, head out on a scenic bike ride around the lake before we depart Wanaka and cruise down to the famous A.J. Hackett bungy site, where you can take the plunge - if you dare! Then, it’s on to the ‘Adventure Capital of the World!’ Queenstown offers an optional big (make that huge) night out with a variety of excellent restaurants, pubs and live music.
With so much to see and do in and around Queenstown, you need three full days to take it all in! To get you started, a couple highlight activities are included in your package.
Day 1: You'll take an exhilarating Shotover Jet Boat ride through the spectacular Shotover River Canyons in the morning and then have the afternoon free for more Queenstown fun.
Day 2: Depart early on a day long trip to the jaw dropping Doubtful Sound in stunning Fiordland National Park, where you'll take a three hour wilderness cruise and learn more about this incredible natural wonder.
Day 3: Make the most of your final free day doing any of the other incredible activities on offer or further exploring Queenstown.
Depart Queenstown early to drive over the Lindis Pass through the beautiful Mackenzie Country and past Lake Pukaki, then head north to our amazing stop at the base of New Zealand’s highest mountain Aoraki/Mt Cook, arriving in the early afternoon.
Today we make our way through a landscape made famous by the Lord of the Rings films. We head past turquoise Lake Tekapo, where we stop for ice-skating, snow tubing or a swim at the hot springs. We arrive in Christchurch later in the afternoon, giving you time to explore parts of the South Island’s largest city.
You have an optional free day to spend more time exploring the South Island's largest city. We recommend checking out the Re:Start Mall, Quake City exhibition, Canterbury Museum or the gorgeous Botanical Gardens. If you are catching a flight today, you can be dropped off at the International Airport early in the morning - just speak to your driver. We hope you've had a blast!
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We've chosen high quality backpacker accommodation in a variety of hostels, wilderness lodges and cabins. Dorm-share accommodation is included with your tour. You can choose to upgrade your accommodation to a single or twin/double private room (subject to availability).
- Single Room: +$750
- Double/Twin Room: +$350 per person
To request an accommodation upgrade for your whole tour please email us (email@example.com) to book.
Or you can choose to upgrade as you go and pay the difference directly to the operator when you arrive (subject to availability).
- Twin/Double upgrades are based on two people sharing and can only be booked if you are travelling with a companion.
- Please note that at some destinations your private room will include an ensuite bathroom and some it won't.
How It Works
Stray Journeys are small group tours based on a fixed itinerary where you stay with the same guide and group of travellers.
Think of it as a road trip experience, where your guide takes you on a once-of-a-lifetime journey, with plenty of awesome stops along the way showing you the real New Zealand!
- Bus transport around the South Island
- Local knowledge, entertaining commentary and bookings service from your tour guide
- All accommodation, quad-share (summer) or dorm-share (winter) (upgrades available)
- Some meals and a selection of activities (as indicated on each tour's itinerary)
- Special deals on activities
What's not included?
Any additional activities not specified as included on the itinerary. These can be booked via your guide, often at an exclusive Stray special price!
If you would prefer to buy a bus pass only and pay-as-you-go for accommodation and activities, check out our Hop-on Hop-off passes.