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Dave Pass

"Dave" is a great pass if you want to focus your time on the South Island but are flying out of Auckland. You will complete the whole South Island circuit and then travel on our express service from Wellington to Auckland.

We recommend at least 3 weeks to get the most out of your trip and to allow some time to hop-off and explore your favourite destinations for longer. If you have less time, check out the Short Dave.

Planning to travel after 1 October 2018? Click here to view our new season itinerary.


Dave - Highlights

Scroll through the gallery below to see the kinds of the things you'll get up to! 


STRADEMARK PLACES 

Our mission is to get you off the beaten track amongst authentic local culture and our experienced crew has chosen some incredible destinations so you can see more and do more! 'Strademark' Places are the places you're less likely to find in the guide book but the ones you'll be talking about long after the adventure has ended. 

  • Stay beachfront on the golden sands at the edge of Abel Tasman National Park.
  • See the stunning fiord of Milford Sound and stay at historic Gunn’s Camp.
  • Stay at the base of New Zealand's highest mountain, Mount Cook/Aoraki.

"I loved Stray, and it really helped in the fact that it went to places most other tour buses did not go to. It was also reassuring knowing that however unprepared you are, Stray would be able to provide accommodation if you had remained on the bus and had taken it to where the bus stops - so you wouldn't be out in the cold. On top of that the drivers are awesome! :)!"
Claudia Tan, April 2017
Read more reviews


What's Included?

  • Bus transport – Travel on our comfortable private buses.
  • Driver-guide - Far more than just a driver, Stray Driver Guides are invaluable sources of local knowledge and assist with booking activities and accommodation on your behalf.
  • Reserved Accommodation – Have a bed reserved for you at every Stray overnight stop. Book through your Driver and pay-as-you-go directly to the accommodation.

Not included: The cost of your accommodation and activities is not included in a hop-on hop-off pass. You have the flexibility to choose what suits your budget and pay-as-you-go. These can be booked via your Driver, often at an exclusive Stray price!

If you would prefer a tour with accommodation and activities included, check out our Stray Journeys tours.


Want more? 

Destination guide orangeNew Zealand Destination Guides 

Get inspired and start planning your trip!


Short on cash but don't want to miss out? 
Deposit option available. Hit BOOK YOUR TRAVEL below and select from the payment options at checkout. Find out more.

Dave Pass

was $995 $649

Itinerary

The itinerary below is for the current season.  For travel after 1 October 2018 refer to our new season itinerary here.

Given the spontaneous nature of our trips and lack of control over New Zealand's weather(!), what we do each day might occasionally vary.

NB. The cost of accommodation is not included in your travel pass but under each day we have described our recommended accommodation, along with some free and paid activity suggestions.

Christchurch to Kaikoura

We stop briefly to do pick-ups and drop-offs at the Christchurch International Airport as we depart early this morning for a beautiful drive up the coast to Kaikoura. Arriving in Kaikoura around midday, you will have the afternoon free for activities to experience the incredible marine world just off shore. Get out on the water and experience one of Kaikoura’s famous dolphin and whale spotting tours, see seals sitting right beside the road at Goose Bay or wander around the peninsula and check out the breathtaking views from the lookout.

Dusky Lodge - Warm modern hostel.

Whale watching by boat or by plane, swimming with dolphins, guided fishing trip.

Walk around the peninsula and up to the lookout.

Leaving Kaikoura in the morning we wind our way up the rugged coastal roads towards the top of the South Island. Your overnight stop tonight is the port town of Picton, where you have the afternoon free to get a feel for this picturesque town nestled on the edge of the stunning Marlborough Sounds. There are plenty of short walks to enjoy around the township and waterfront, such as the Queen Charlotte Sound view walk. Feel free to unwind this evening in the spa pool at the accommodation.

Picton Villa - Cosy villa.

Queen Charlotte Sound view walk, go fishing, bicycle around town, relax in the accommodation’s spa pool.

Enjoy a leisurely morning getting to know charming Picton. You’ll meet your Stray group at the accommodation at midday. Once on the bus, we’ll cruise through the world famous Marlborough vineyard area and, depending on the group, we may stop for a wine tasting to sample the region’s specialty Sauvignon Blanc before heading to the coastal town of Nelson. We make a supermarket stop in Motueka to stock up on supplies for the next couple days and then make our way to our amazing overnight destination Marahau, right on the edge of the spectacular Abel Tasman National Park.

The Barn - Unique Stray accommodation on the edge of the national park.

Wine tasting, skydiving.

Walks, mussel tasting around the fire, stargazing.

With a full day at your leisure, don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore this stunning, coastal national park on foot, by sea or from the air. Abel Tasman is famous for being one of the sunniest spots in New Zealand and, as home to one of NZ’s Great Walks, is a popular place to hop off for hiking enthusiasts. Even those short on time can still use this free day to hike, kayak, sail or take a water taxi to get a taste of the park’s natural golden sand beaches and brilliant blue waters.

The Barn - Unique Stray accommodation on the edge of the national park.

Full day sailing trip, kayaking, skydiving, water taxi, hang gliding, stand-up paddle boarding, canyoning, hang gliding, scenic microlight flight.

Walk in the national park, relax on one of the golden sand beaches, go for a swim.

Today we head south towards the ‘wild’ West Coast, an area known for its beautiful untamed beaches and stunning sunsets. We pass through Buller Gorge and down a stretch of road that was once labelled one of the top ten drives in the world by Lonely Planet. We stop for a walk along the craggy cliffs at Cape Foulwind to view the seal colony at Tauranga Bay and then head for the historic coal mining town of Westport. This is the best place on the South Island to hit the waves with a surf lesson, and the sunset from our accommodation tonight is a ‘must see’ if the weather is clear.

TripInn Westport - Charming character villa in the centre of town.

Surfing, caving, craft brewery tour.

Westport seal colony, West Coast sunset.

 

An early start takes us further down the rugged West Coast to the geographic wonder of Punakaiki’s Pancake Rocks and blowholes. We’ll stop to take a short walk around these unique limestone rock formations before we head for the historic gold mining town, Greymouth. We do pick-ups in Greymouth and make a stop in Hokitika, one of the best places to pick up a piece of NZ greenstone. Then, we’re on our way to our next overnight stop in the quaint little town of Franz Josef, home to the mighty Franz Josef Glacier.

Rainforest Retreat - Lodge in the middle of the rainforest.

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and the mighty blowholes, Truman Track walk, walk along the beach in Hokitika.

Enjoy a free day to get out and experience the Franz Josef Glacier, an iconic highlight of the West Coast. The best way to navigate the maze of ice and explore the incredible landscape on the Franz Josef Glacier is with a guided tour, which consistently ranks as a favourite activity amongst Stray travellers. The most popular trip features a short heli-hop onto the glacier with a guided educational tour on the ice and includes entry to the hot pools afterwards. Other options include visiting the glacial terminal face for some spectacular photos or doing one of the many excellent bush hikes in the region.

Rainforest Retreat - Lodge in the middle of the rainforest.

Glacier heli-hike (entry to hot pools included), kayaking, skydiving.

Many excellent bush hikes (but we recommend a guided one for safety). Relax in one of NZ’s largest spa pools at your accommodation.

It’s time to leave the West Coast behind. We stop in the morning for pick-ups at Fox Glacier before heading to the amazing mirror-like Lake Matheson to stretch our legs with a short walk. Then, we’ll travel inland through the mountainous Haast Pass and Makarora towards Wanaka. This is one of the most scenic drives you’ll ever do and we’ll stop for plenty of photo ops along the way as we drive from rainforests to mountains, through beech forest and past great lakes. We’ll pass by the beautiful Lake Hawea and arrive in Wanaka late-afternoon in time to enjoy this picturesque lakeside town.

Base Wanaka - Central Wanaka hostel.

Lake Matheson walk, Ship Creek walk, Blue Pools walk, Thunder Creek Falls walk, explore Wanaka.

Kick start your day with a brisk walk up Mt Iron, an early morning skydive or learn to fly a stunt plane over Wanaka. At mid-morning we’ll pack up and make our way to Queenstown, known in New Zealand as the ‘Adventure Capital of the World’ and the spiritual home of bungy jumping. We stop on our way into town at Kawarau Bridge, the first commercial bungy jumping site in the world, for your chance to take the big leap of faith. Queenstown offers an optional big (make that huge!) night out with plenty of excellent restaurants, pubs and live music to check out.

Central hostel close to all the action.

Puzzling World, skydiving, mountain biking, pilot your own stunt plane or learn to fly and take a friend for free, bungy jumping.

Walk Mt Iron, watch people jumping off a bridge!

You need at least one free day in Queenstown to make the most of the wide range of activities on offer. With a buzzy night life, beautiful mountain scenery and an exciting outdoor lifestyle, it’s easy to understand why Stray passengers often hop off here to spend extra time exploring. Options include: bungy or swing, zipline tours, canyoning, jet boating, skiing, skydiving, local bush walks, or just enjoy the stunning scenery and do nothing.

Central hostel close to all the action.

Any adventure activity that we mad Kiwis can dream up (bungy, swing, jet boating, skydiving, mountain biking, zipline, horse riding…).

Sleep in, fabulous walks, take in beautiful views from this cool resort town.

Today you are in for a treat. It’s an early start as make our way to Milford Sound, one of NZ’s most famous destinations, sometimes referred to as the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’. You won’t want to nap on this leg of the journey as we drive past Lake Wakatipu and watch the landscape change from farmland to mountains, glacier carved valleys and fiords. There is time to do an afternoon boat cruise around Milford Sound to soak up this untouched world. Known for its rich marine ecology, it’s likely you’ll spot a few wild dolphins, seals and penguins. Next, we head for our unique Stray overnight stop, Gunn’s Camp, located in the solitude of Hollyford Valley. There’s no better place to enjoy an evening under the stars, spot glow-worms in the bush and listen out for kiwi bird calls in the night.

Gunn's Camp - Historic camp in the heart of Fiordland National Park.

Milford Sound cruise (ask the driver about the special Milford Sound + Stewart Island combo).

Stunning views, visit the historic museum or take in the incredible surroundings at Gunn’s Camp, Chasm walk.

We start the morning with a short riverside stroll through beech forest on the Viewing Gantry walk. Fiordland is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site Te Wahipounamu (which incorporates four national parks including Mt Cook, Mt Aspiring, Westland and Fiordland) and you’ll understand why as you marvel at the spectacular surrounding landscape. This afternoon we travel further south via Te Anau to Invercargill and on to Bluff, where you can catch a ferry to Stewart Island. NZ’s third largest island, Stewart Island, has an abundance of activities for the outdoor enthusiast, such as fishing, kayaking, diving, bird watching and tramping tracks. Those not going to Stewart Island will spend the night in Invercargill.

Stewart Island backpackers on Stewart Island or Tuatara Lodge - central hostel in Invercargill.

Te Anau Wildlife Centre, catch the ferry to Stewart Island (ask the driver about the special Milford Sound + Stewart Island combo).

Humbolt Falls walk, Viewing Gantry walk. 

The morning is yours to explore the island, meet the locals, go fishing or enjoy some of the walks. We catch an afternoon ferry back to the mainland. For those who chose not to venture onto Stewart Island your bus departs mid-morning to head out to Waipapa Point, Curio Bay and Porpoise Bay for some sea lion, penguin and dolphin spotting in the Catlins. On the chance we can’t find any wildlife, we can visit the 180 million-year-old fossilized forest and grab a milkshake. Afterwards we return to Bluff Hill to meet up with the island-goers before we express back to Queenstown.

Central hostel close to all the action.

Stewart Island: fishing, Village & Bays tour, go to Ulva Island.

Stewart Island: explore the island, amazing birdlife, walks through the native parkland.
Invercargill: visit the start/end point for State Highway 1, sea lion, penguin, dolphin spotting, find Burt Munro’s World’s Fastest Indian, visit Henry the 118-year-old tuatara.

Today we head over the Lindis Pass through the beautiful Mackenzie Country and past picturesque Lake Pukaki on the way to our amazing stop at the base of New Zealand’s highest mountain, Aoraki/Mt Cook. We arrive in the early afternoon with time to do a 4WD & Argo Tour, check out the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre or do one of the many great short walks in the park. If you want to hop off the bus for a few days there are some incredible longer walks you can do (we’d recommend leaving climbing Mt Cook to the experienced mountaineers though).

Mt Cook Backpacker Lodge - Stunning alpine lodge.

Argo tour of alpine region, visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre.

Take photos of awe-inspiring scenery, do one of the many great short walks to the Hooker glacial lake (weather dependent), stargazing.

Leaving Mt Cook we make our way through a landscape made famous in the 'Lord of the Rings' films. We make a stop at turquoise Lake Tekapo to view the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd. There will be free time in Tekapo to go ice skating, tubing or relax in the hot pools before we continue on to Christchurch for a mid-afternoon arrival. You will then have time to explore parts of the South Island’s largest city.

All Stars Inn - Purpose built backpackers near the city centre.

Stay longer in Tekapo for ice skating, snow tubing and visiting the relaxing hot springs.

Take photos of stunning scenery, visit Lake Tekapo, go for a walk around central Christchurch.

You may feel a sense of déjà vu as you again make your way from Christchurch northbound up the coast to Kaikoura. Take the opportunity to do any of the activities or walks you missed last time, or just kick back and relax with the comforts of the accommodation. 

Warm modern hostel. 

Whale watching by boat or by plane, swimming with dolphins, guided fishing trip.

Walk around the peninsula and up to the lookout.

Leaving Kaikoura in the morning we wind our way up the rugged coastal roads towards the top of the South Island. For those that choose to hop off in the port town of Picton, check out the Queen Charlotte Sound view walk and take advantage of the free fishing gear and pushbikes at the Picton accommodation. Those heading to Wellington will catch the afternoon Bluebridge Ferry across the Cook Strait (from Picton to Wellington). The evening in Wellington is free so why not explore this funky town’s nightlife at any of the bars and restaurants along Cuba Street.

Base Wellington - central Wellington hostel, or The Villa - cosy villa in Picton.

Explore Wellington city’s nightlife, or go fishing or biking in Picton.

We depart in the early morning. This is an express day via Raetihi heading back to the ‘City of Sails’, Auckland. For those who may have missed out on hiking the Tongariro Crossing, you have the option to hop off in National Park and try again. With an early evening arrival, there’s still time to wander the streets of Auckland, visit the Viaduct, do some souvenir shopping or hang out with new friends and share stories about your recent adventures. If you are hanging around Auckland for another day or two, don’t miss your chance to jump off the Harbour Bridge or Sky Tower, skydive, or take a wildlife cruise around the Hauraki Gulf. We hope you had a blast on your Stray adventure!

Skydiving, bungy off the bridge, walk around or jump off the top of the Sky Tower, whale and dolphin safari.

Dave Pass

was $995 $649

Timetable

The days and times shown below are for the current season (1 May - 30 Sept 2018). For future seasons, please refer to our Bus Timetables page.

Timetables are subject to change but our team will email you if this happens whilst you are travelling. Your online booking account will also show confirmed departure times.

Christchurch to Kaikoura

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Christchurch (Depart) 07:30 07:30 07:30
Christchurch International Airport (Depart) 08:00 08:00 08:00
Kaikoura (Arrive) 12:00 12:00 12:00

Kaikoura to Picton

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Kaikoura (Depart) 09:00 09:00 09:00
Blenheim (Depart) 11:15 11:15 11:15
Picton (Arrive) 12:00 12:00 12:00

Picton to Marahau (Abel Tasman)

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Picton - Ferry Terminal (Depart) 12:00 12:00 12:00
Nelson (Depart) 15:00 15.00 15.00
Marahau - Abel Tasman National Park (Arrive) 18:00 18.00 18.00

Marahau (Abel Tasman)

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Marahau (Abel Tasman) (Non Travel Day) Free Free Free Free Free Free Free

Marahau (Abel Tasman) to Westport

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Marahau - Abel Tasman National Park (Depart) 08:30 08:30 08:30
Murchison (Depart) 11:30 11:30 11:30
Westport (Arrive) 13:30 13:30 13:30

Westport to Franz Josef

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Westport (Depart) 09:00 09:00 09:00
Greymouth (Depart) 13:15 13:15 13:15
Franz Josef (Arrive) 18:00 18:00 18:00

Franz Josef

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Franz Josef (Non Travel Day) Free Free Free Free Free Free Free

Franz Josef to Wanaka

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Franz Josef (Depart) 08:30 08:30 08:30
Fox Glacier (Depart) 09:00 09:00 09:00
Wanaka (Arrive) 16:30 16:30 16:30

Wanaka to Queenstown

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Wanaka (Depart) 09:45 09:45 09:45
Cromwell (Depart) 12:00 12:00 12:00
Queenstown (Arrive) 16:00 16:00 16:00

Queenstown

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Queenstown (Non-Travel Day) Free Free Free Free Free Free Free

Queenstown to Gunn's Camp

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Queenstown (Depart) 06:40 06:40
Te Anau (Arrive) 10:00 10:00
Gunn’s Camp (Arrive) 16:00 16:00

Gunn's Camp to Invercargill/Stewart Island

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Gunn’s Camp (Depart) 08:30 08:30
Te Anau (Depart) 11:30 11:30
Bluff Wharf (for ferry) (Arrive) 16:00 16:00
Invercargill (Arrive) 17:00 17:00

Invercargill/Stewart Island to Queenstown

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Invercargill (Depart) 10:00 10:00
Bluff Wharf (for ferry) (Depart) 16:00 16:00
Queenstown (Arrive) 19:00 19:00

Queenstown to Aoraki/Mt Cook

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Queenstown (Depart) 08:40 08:40 08:40
Mt Cook (Arrive) 13:30 13:30 13:30

Mt Cook to Christchurch

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Mt Cook (Depart) 08:30 08:30 08:30
Tekapo (Depart) 10:00 10:00 10:00
Christchurch (Arrive) 17:00 17:00 17:00

Christchurch to Kaikoura (2nd Time)

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Christchurch (Depart) 07:30 07:30 07:30
Christchurch International Airport (Depart) 08:00 08:00 08:00
Kaikoura (Arrive) 12:00 12:00 12:00

Kaikoura (via Picton) to Wellington

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Kaikoura (Depart) 09:00 09:00 09:00
Blenheim (Depart) 11:15 11:15 11:15
Picton (Arrive) 12:00 12:00 12:00
Bluebridge Ferry (to Wellington) (Depart) 14:00 14:00 14:00 14:00 14:00 14:00 14:00

Wellington (via Raetihi) to Auckland

  MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Wellington (Depart) 06:40 06:40 06:40
Raetihi (Depart) 11:00 11:00 11:00
Auckland (Arrive) 17:00 17:00 17:00

Dave Pass

was $995 $649

Dave New Zealand Bus Tour Map2018

How It Works

Stray's operates a private transport network using comfortable air conditioned 24 - 48 seater buses. The buses are driven by qualified, knowledgeable Driver Guides who will lead you on a true adventure around our carefully thought out route, offering the mix of iconic 'hot spots' and super special 'off the beaten track' destinations we refer to as STRADEMARK places.

Best of all you have total freedom to hop on and off the bus at destinations along the way so you can spend more time in the places you love.


How do you hop on and off the bus?

Hop off‘Hop off’ the bus anywhere along the route, even places in between the designated stops. Either plan to hop off in advance or do it spur of the moment – it’s up to you!

To hop back on, simply book your next travel date and pickup location through Stray Mate, your online Trip Manager (you'll receive log in info after you've booked). 

The buses run on a regular timetable with multiple departures a week so you can plan ahead too. 

Your pass is valid for up to 12 months from your first day of travel, meaning you can hop on and off as often as you like for up to a year!

Short on time?

You are not required to hop off the bus – feel free to use your pass like a tour and complete the itinerary in its ‘minimum days’. Either way you'll have a great time!


What about accommodation?

Where you sleep NZAt all of Stray's overnight stops along the route, you'll have a dorm bed reserved at our preferred accommodation. Simply confirm with your Driver Guide each day and pay on arrival. Its that easy. 

If you choose to hop-off and stay a few nights, it is your responsibility to book those extra nights in.  If you'd like a private room, ask your Driver, but note, these are subject to availability on the day.  


What activities can I do?

Activities NZThere are over 150+ activities on offer! Whether you are a hiker, a biker, a Lord of the Rings fan or an adrenaline junkie you can start getting inspired by checking out our comprehensive Destination Guides. 

 

Once you're on the bus, your Driver will recommend activities, let you know what they cost, even help you plan your budget so you can do as much as possible! 

 

You simply choose what you want to do, as you travel, and pay the operators on arrival. 

Who travels with Stray? 

Whos onboardOur travellers are an energetic outgoing crowd who share a common objective: to have a great time! Most are aged between 18 - 30 although we have no maximum age because we believe age doesn't matter - it's more about having a thirst for adventure! We get a wide range of nationalities from all over the world with the majority from UK, Europe and America. 75% of our travellers are travelling solo and some travel as part of a couple or group of friends.