Explore the South Island's wild West Coast and Far South on Stray's Long Q Pass.
FREE TRANZALPINE TRAIN UPGRADE
Start the Long Q pass with an unguided scenic train ride across the beautiful Southern Alps. Upon arrival in the West Coast town of Greymouth you'll meet up with your Driver Guide and group. This transfer is standardly operated on the Atomic Shuttle Bus, however until July 31, we're offering a free upgrade to the highly regarded TranzAlpine Scenic Train.
FREE TranzAlpine Scenic Train upgrade (valued at $179 NZD) valid until 31 July - must start travel before the 31 October 2018.
Long Q - Highlights
Scroll through the gallery below to see the kinds of the things you'll get up to!
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.
- 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.
"Travelling with Stray made all the difference. It was easy, fun and relaxed. The driver was helpful and it was great to meet like-minded people while visiting some remote, beautiful locations. Would definitely choose stray again."
- All 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.
Christchurch to Greymouth Sector
Travel cross-country, from Christchurch to Greymouth crossing the beautiful Southern Alps on route to the West Coast town of Greymouth to meet up with your Driver Guide and group. Depending what time of year you travel, you’ll either be on the Tranzalpine Scenic Train or the Atomic Shuttle. Reservations will confirm this with you prior to departure.
Start travel before 31 October 2018
If you are starting your trip before 31 October, you’ll be travelling on the highly regarded Tranzalpine Scenic Train. You will depart from Christchurch Railway Station, Troup Drive, Addington. Be there by 7.30am for check-in. The train departs at 8.15am (however check-in closes 20mins prior to departure). You’ll meet the Stray bus outside the Greymouth Train Station at 1.15pm. From here you’ll continue on with the Stray group to the town of Franz Josef, home of the mighty Franz Josef Glacier.
Start travel after 31 October 2018
If you are starting your trip after 31 October 2018 you’ll be travelling on the Atomic Shuttle bus from Christchurch to Greymouth. Please make your way to the Christchurch Bus Exchange at 72 Lichfield Street by 7.45am. If you’d like to upgrade to the Tranzalpine Scenic Train you can do so for an additional $99 NZD (valued at $179). Please contact Stray’s Reservation team to arrange this. (NB. Train is subject to availability and we require at least 3 days' notice.) You’ll meet the Stray bus outside the Greymouth Train Station at 1.15pm. From here you’ll continue on with the Stray group to the town of Franz Josef, home of the mighty Franz Josef Glacier.
Please select when you would like to travel from the dropdown options (Select Upgrade) when you book.
Get inspired and start planning your trip!
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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.
You’ll start your Stray trip, crossing the beautiful Southern Alps on route to the West Coast town of Greymouth to meet up with your Driver Guide and group. From here you’ll continue on with the Stray group to the town of Franz Josef, home of the mighty Franz Josef Glacier. Your Southern Alps transfer will be on the Atomic Shuttle Bus, unless you've opted to upgrade to the highly regarded TranzAlpine Scenic Train. Upgrades are available on request with the Stray's reservations team.
Transfering on the TranzAlpine Train: Please make your way to the Christchurch Railway Station, Troup Drive, Addington by 7.30am for check-in. The train departs at 8.15am (however check-in closes 20mins prior to departure). You’ll meet the Stray bus outside the Greymouth Train Station at 1.15pm (Pick-up changes to 2.30pm from Oct 18)
Transfering with Atomic Shuttle: Please make your way to the Christchurch Bus Exchange at 72 Lichfield Street by 7.45am. You’ll meet the Stray bus outside the Greymouth Train Station at 1.15pm (Pick-up changes to 2.30pm from Oct 18)
Please contact the Stray office at least 48 hours before departure to confirm your transfer details and departure times.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Note: Transport from Christchurch to Greymouth operates 7 days a week; however the Stray bus connections to Franz Josef are limited to 3-5 days per week. If you want a same day connection plan your trip accordingly.
Christchurch to Franz Josef (via Greymouth)
|Franz Josef (Arrive)||18:00||18:00||18:00|
|Franz Josef (Non Travel Day)||Free||Free||Free||Free||Free||Free||Free|
Franz Josef to Wanaka
|Franz Josef (Depart)||08:30||08:30||08:30|
|Fox Glacier (Depart)||09:00||09:00||09:00|
Wanaka to Queenstown
|Queenstown (Non-Travel Day)||Free||Free||Free||Free||Free||Free||Free|
Queenstown to Gunn's Camp
|Te Anau (Arrive)||10:00||10:00|
|Gunn’s Camp (Arrive)||16:00||16:00|
Gunn's Camp to Invercargill/Stewart Island
|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/Stewart Island to Queenstown
|Bluff Wharf (for ferry) (Depart)||16:00||16:00|
Queenstown to Aoraki/Mt Cook
|Mt Cook (Arrive)||13:30||13:30||13:30|
Mt Cook to Christchurch
|Mt Cook (Depart)||08:30||08:30||08:30|
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’ 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?
What about accommodation?
At 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?There 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.
Who travels with Stray?
Our 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.