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Stray Returns to Kaikoura

We are excited to share some long awaited news regarding Stray's return to Kaikoura.

For all those eager whale watching and dolphin spotting enthusiasts we've got some great news - the coastal road to Kaikoura is now open! 

Since the November '16 earthquake which closed State Highway 1, Stray has been using a scenic inland detour via Lewis Pass.

We will be using the new road from 21 December and we will be staying overnight in Kaikoura again from 2 January 2018. 

Our return to Kaikoura is a milestone worth celebrating for the local community and our passengers and we look forward to sharing it with you.  

Hop-on Hop-off

Stray returns to staying overnight Kaikoura on the 2 January 2018.  Here’s what you need to know:

  • The 2 January 2018 will be our first night back in Kaikoura, after which this will become part of our 'Main Route'
  • Most of the time we will travel on the new MAIN ROUTE. Some dates we have to take an ALTERNATIVE ROUTE and stay overnight in Picton. 
  • On the MAIN ROUTE we will stay overnight in Kaikoura instead of Picton. 
  • The minimum travel days for passengers will not change
  • Our new Kaikoura accommodation: Dusky Lodge

Please note: To allow plenty of time to enjoy Kaikoura we will stay overnight in Christchurch, instead of Peel Forest Rangitata as we originally intended, although we will still pass through Peel Forest Rangitata and passengers will have the option to do White Water Rafting (Summer only). 


Willy JAN 18 route WEBChristchurch to Kaikoura (Overnight stop from 2 January 2018)

> Mt Cook > (Peel Forest Rangitata) Christchurch > Kaikoura > (via Picton) Wellington 

Travel Itinerary:

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.

Accommodation: Dusky Lodge
Optional paid activities: Whale watching by boat or by plane, swimming with dolphins, guided fishing trip.
Free activities: Walk around the peninsula and up to the lookout.

Kaikoura (via Picton) to Wellington (National Passes)

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. 

Accommodation: Central Wellington hostel
Free activities: Explore Wellington city’s nightlife, or go fishing or biking in Picton.



Christchurch to Picton (via Kaikoura)

Effective on:  21 -31 December |  7, 28, 29, 30 January | 5, 6 February | 2, 4, 5 March 

On several travel dates in 2018 Stray will overnight in Picton instead of Kaikoura following our 'Alternative Route'. On these dates Stray will travel through Kaikoura, stopping for lunch and then continue up the coast to Picton. Passengers who are able to secure their own accommodation in Kaikoura on these dates are welcome to hop off and join the next available Stray bus that comes through (this is not recommended to those travelling on minimum time as you will need extra days).

The Alternative Route: 
> Mt Cook > (Peel Forest Rangitata) Christchurch > (via KaikouraPicton  > Wellington 


Stray Journeys: Off Peak Tours 

(May - Sep 2018)

More good news! Like our Hop-on Hop-off network, our Stray Journeys Off-Peak Tours (operating May - September 2018) will also be returning to Kaikoura. 

We will now be stopping overnight in Christchurch City instead of Peel Forest (near Rangitata). Passengers will still get to do all the same fun stuff on route up to Christchurch, like ice skating, snow tubing or visiting the hot springs in beautiful Lake Tekapo.


  • Cook, Dingle Tours
    > Mt Cook > (Peel Forest)  Christchurch > Kaikoura > Wellington....continue Northbound
  • Sheppard, Hillary, Blake, Mackinnon, Haast Tours: 
    > Mt Cook > (Peel Forest) Christchurch > Tour ends
  • Christchurch accommodation:  All Stars Inn
  • Kaikoura accommodation: Dusky Lodge 



If you have any questions, please contact Reservations on or +64 (0)9 526 2140.