Check out our most frequently asked questions to learn more about us and how Stray works.
1. About Stray
Who travels with Stray?
Stray attracts adventurous travellers from all corners of the globe with the majority from the UK, Europe and America. When we say “adventurous”, we don’t mean we expect you to do a bungy jump or even a 10 mile hike… but an open mind and a thirst for exploration is important!
What is the average age of Stray passengers?
The majority of travellers are aged between 20 - 35 although anyone 18+ is welcome and we have no maximum age because we believe age doesn't matter - it's all about attitude!
Is it ok to travel alone?
Totally! A lot of our travellers arrive alone, around 75% of our travellers are travelling solo, others are with friends or partners. It doesn’t matter because by the end of day one you have already made a great group of friends on the bus! (“Meeting liked-minded travellers” frequently is rated in the top 5 reasons to travel with us.)
How many people will I be travelling with?
In winter our average group size is 20, in summer 35. Our buses range from 14 to 45 seaters. We try to use the appropriate bus for the group size, keeping it as small and nifty as possible! This means you can do and see more in a day and it's better for the environment too.
What hours are the reservations team available?
How fit do I need to be?
You don’t have to be an athlete to travel with us – all walks and activities are optional and there is something for everyone.
Is there wifi on the bus?
No we don’t have WIFI on our buses. We trialled it but found that using Prepaid SimCards with data plans provided faster and better coverage across New Zealand than we could provide on the bus. Free SimCards are available at the Auckland International Airport when you arrive and from the Stray Travel Shop (Auckland City). The data packages are flexible and affordable.
When you're on the bus it's all about sharing stories and make friends! It makes the experience even more memorable.
Will we be on the bus everyday?
Stray includes free days (non-travel days) in our itinerary, e.g. Abel Tasman National Park, Franz Josef and Queenstown, so even if you’re completing your Stray trip in the “minimum days” required you’ll still have time to do activities and explore each of these areas. We also include free mornings or afternoons in most places for you to do local activities, just relax or even do some necessary laundry!
Is Stray a party bus?
Ultimately, Stray’s main priority is getting you out to see the real New Zealand, and we have some early starts so that we can fit as much adventure in as possible. What you do in your evenings is your own choice... However, of course we are a sociable bunch and we do enjoy a cold beer or two! Because many of our overnight stops are so "off the beaten track", you will find many of these fine beverages are shared around a campfire rather than in a bar, but we do have a couple of optional big nights out on the circuit, including Queenstown.
2. Preparing For Your Trip to NZ
What do I bring?
No matter what time of year it is you will need comfortable walking shoes, sunblock, bug repellent, swimwear and a towel.
We ask that you bring only one reasonably-sized backpack/suitcase (15kg) and a day pack. If you are going to be travelling with a lot more than 15kg, then please let us know.
In winter we also suggest packing a warm hat, rain jacket and light thermals, particularly for the South Island where it gets colder.
In summer remember your flip-flops/sandals/jandals/thongs (pick one according to where you are from!) and a sun hat.
Oh, and some clothes would be good too.
Do I bring a suitcase or backpack?
Either is fine in New Zealand, it’s up to you! We ask that you bring only one large backpack/suitcase (15kg) and a day pack. If you are going to be travelling with a lot more than 15kg, then please let us know.
Do I need travel insurance?
There is no travel insurance cover included with a Stray travel pass. We strongly recommend that you take insurance to cover you for cancellation, medical expenses, personal accident, personal baggage, money and public liability. We do not take responsibility for any personal possessions under any circumstances.
World Nomads travel insurance is the perfect companion to keep you travelling safely while on a bus in New Zealand or around the world. They cover a range of adventure activities such as skiing, white water rafting and scuba diving. World Nomads also provides members with a free travel journal and SMS security alerts to make sure you well informed on the road and kept safe while travelling. They are Lonely Planet's trusted provider.
How much should I budget for?
If you have a Freestyle Travel Pass:
Accommodation: a dorm bed is roughly $28-36 per night - including central city hostels, bush-clad surf lodges, high country sheep stations and 1930’s huts in Fiordland National Park. The exception is the Lake Aniwhenua cultural and community experience which is $89 and includes food, accommodation and activities.
Food: this comes down to you, so anywhere between $10 and 100 per day! We stop at supermarkets but there’s (almost) always an option to visit a restaurant or local café. If you’re lucky our drivers have even been known to cook a very impressive BBQ/spaghetti Bolognese/roast/chocolate cake.
Ferry: $50-$70 per person one way. Between the North and South there’s the Cook Strait to cross . The Bluebridge Ferry is a beautiful, scenic way to hop between the two islands. You can book this in the Stray Mate App.
Activities: these vary wildly, from $25 to visit a museum to $399 to jump out of a plane!
If you have booked a Stray Journeys Tour:
Accommodation, some meals and the ferry are all included so you just need to worry about your additional activities and other meals (see the above points about food and activities).
Do I need cash?
You will find that New Zealanders barely ever carry cash, as 99% of shops, restaurants and even taxis will accept debit cards. However they won't always accept credit cards and it’s handy to always carry $20-50 to cover you for circumstances like needing a key deposit for your hostel room.
3. Managing Your Freestyle Pass
I've booked my pass! What happens next?
Yay you booked! You'll receive a confirmation email with information about how to download and sign up to the Stray Mate App so you can manage your travel plans online. You can book all your travel dates, accommodation and activities in the App. If you are travelling on a Freestyle Pass but are short on time, we recommend you book all your travel in advance to avoid disappointment. You can always clear your dates later if you change your mind.
Why does my itinerary say “Pick Up TBA”?
This means you have not yet confirmed where and when you wish to be picked up. You need to confirm this by 5pm the day before you travel – but we recommend allowing 48 hours if possible, to guarantee your seat.
How far in advance do I need to book my travel on the bus?
You can book in the Stray Mate App at any time, right up until when bus leaves (provided there is availability). However in the peak season (November - March) the buses tend to get very busy. We recommend anyone travelling with specific travel dates or on limited time book as far in advance as possible to ensure you can travel on your preferred travel date.
If you book after 4pm, the day before travel you will need to go to the main designated departure point as listed on this 'Pick-Up List' (none of the alternative pick-ups are available for bookings made after 4pm).
*Cape Reinga Day Trip: If you have the Cape Reinga day trip included with your pass, you'll see this as 'prebooked' in the App. You'll need to let us know by 11am the day before, if you want to travel the following day. You can do this by emailing [email protected] or booking direct at the Fullers Great Sights office located at The Maritime Building, Paihia Waterfront.
How do I find out departure days and times for my pass?
Each pass page has a timetable tab which shows departure days and times for the current season.
How do I book (hop) back onto the bus?
To hop back on, simply book your next travel date and pickup location through the Stray Mate App, you'll get your login details once you have booked your pass.
Can I book (hop) back on the bus via my Stray driver?
No. Your driver has quite a lot to do so we do not allow them to book passengers' travel. You should book the bus in the Stray Mate App.
Can I hop off anywhere?
Yes – as long as it’s along your pass route then you are welcome to hop off at any point. Either plan to hop off in advance or do it spur of the moment – it’s up to you!
Can I start and finish my pass at different places than stated on the pass?
If you don’t want to complete the whole itinerary of your pass, that’s fine with us. Just use the route as a guide and complete the part you want to. For example, if your pass departs from Auckland but you are already in Raglan, then start from there!
Can I re-travel on my hop-on, hop-off pass?
Freestyle Travel passes are valid for up to 12 months. After you have completed your pass for the first time, you can travel the same route again on a space available (i.e. standby) basis. The only parts of the route that cannot be re-travelled are the travel days north of Auckland (Auckland > Paihia > Cape Reinga > Paihia > Auckland), the 'Christchurch - Greymouth' sector and the 'Rotorua to Auckland' sector (included in the Jerry & Jerry Hopper Pass).
Re-travel must be booked through [email protected] and cannot be booked in the 'Stray Mate’ app.
On the day you will need to present photo ID to your Driver. Anyone deemed to be abusing Stray’s travel policies will be immediately removed from the bus and charged for any unauthorised travel.
Help – the bus is full on the day I want to travel. What do I do?
If you find that the bus is already full on the day you wish to travel, you can put yourself on 'Standby' (a waiting list) via the Stray Mate app or you can call the Reservations team for assistance. Nine times out of ten you will be able to get on the bus you want as other people change their hop-on, hop-off plans. Otherwise we will work with you to get you on the next available departure.
Over the peak summer season (November - March) the buses can get quite busy, so we strongly recommend you book your seat as far in advance as possible (or at least 48 hours!) to ensure you can travel on your preferred travel dates. Booking in advance is especially important if you have only a limited time to travel.
Is there a limit on the number of times I can 'hop-on' and 'hop-off'?
No, there is no limit. You can hop off at every stop if you want to.
How often do the buses run?
The buses run on a regular timetable with between 3-5 departures per week depending on the season. Check out the bus timetable to help you plan your trip.
Do I have to hop off the bus?
No, you are not required to hop off the bus. If you're short on time, feel free to use your pass like a tour and complete the itinerary in its ‘minimum days’. If you're not planning on hopping off, we recommend booking all of your travel dates in Stray Mate as soon as you've purchased your pass to ensure you can travel on the days you want.
How long is my Stray Freestyle Pass valid for?
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!
Where can I stay and how much is it?
You can find out all of this and more on our Accommodation page.
How do I book accommodation?
Accommodation can be booked through the Stray Mate App. The Stray Mate App holds dorm-share bed allocation at the Stray Preferred hostels in each destination so we can guarantee you a bed for the night's you are with the bus.
Are private rooms available?
Twins and double rooms are available at every stop, some with en-suite. Stray can only guarantee dorm beds for the first night's accommodation promise, but drivers will try to honour all requests for private rooms based on availability. In busy periods we strongly recommend anyone who wants a private room to book in advance (see the Accommodation page for a list of where Stray stays).
Do I need a sleeping bag?
No. Most hostels will not allow them in order to reduce the risk of spreading bed bugs! Therefore all bedding is provided.
Are there kitchen facilities?
Yes, and nearly all accommodation places also have a communal lounge area(s), TV/DVDs, computers, information desk and laundry.
Is there internet at the accommodation?
Yes, most places offer wifi. Some places offer it for free, others charge a small fee.
Is accommodation included?
Freestyle Travel Passes: No, accommodation is not included in the pass price. This can easily be booked through the Stray Mate app, as you go, and we guarantee a dorm bed will be allocated to you for your first night's stay at every location at the Stray preferred accommodation.
Stray Journeys Tours: Yes, quad-share accommodation is included in your tour, with private room upgrades available. See each tour page for more details and upgrade price.
How do I book accommodation if I choose to hop off?
If you hop off, you can book additional accommodation through the Stray Mate app. Select your dates and a request will be sent to the accommodation provider who will confirm your booking for the additional nights.
Is it possible to skip the Lake Aniwhenua overnight stop?
Our Strademark Lake Aniwhenua stop is North Island highlight for many passengers and we think the chance to experience true New Zealand Maori culture with a local family is an absolute must do (that's why it's part of the route!). However, if you would rather miss out, you are welcome to make your own way from Rotorua to Taupo and meet the Stray bus there (remember to book your Taupo pick up for the correct day in the Stray Mate App).
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.
How do I book activities?
You can book and pay for any activities as you go, through the Stray Mate App. When you book through the app you have access to Stray's exclusive allocation and rates.
There is so much to do! Feel free to ask your Driver Guides for their personal recommendations.
More information on the Cape Reinga Day Trip
If you have the Cape Reinga day trip included with your pass, you'll see this as 'prebooked' in the Stray Mate App. You'll need to let us know by 11am the day before, if you want to travel the following day. You can do this by emailing [email protected] or booking direct at the Fullers Great Sights office located at The Maritime Building, Paihia Waterfront.
6. Ferry Services
Is the ferry between islands included in the pass?
The cost of the ferry ticket between the North and South Islands is not included. We use the Bluebridge Ferry - you can book the Bluebridge ferry in the Stray Mate App. The price of being a ferry passenger varies between $50-70 per person depending on the time of year.
How do I book the Bluebridge Ferry if I have hopped off in Wellington or Picton?
If you are spending longer in Wellington/Picton without your driver, then you can book the ferry through the Stray Mate app.
You'll need to make your way to the ferry terminal and check in 1 hour before the sailing.
The ferry goes every day. However, if you wish to meet the Stray bus on the ferry, remember to check which days we travel on your pass timetable – it’s not every day.
Can I use the Interislander Ferry instead of the Bluebridge Ferry?
Stray only have allocation on the Bluebridge Ferry service and you can book the Bluebridge ferry in the Stray Mate App. You are welcome to book the Interislander ferry on your own, but please be aware that the sailing times for the two companies are different. if you choose to use the Interislander Ferry please make sure you advise Reservations in advance (either the day before or the morning you are sailing) so we can tell the driver.