This tour operates in our off-peak season between 29 April - 30 September 2019
View the Sheppard Summer tour (departing 6 Oct 2019 - 26 April 2020)
On this tour, you'll see all the key parts of the country that make New Zealand world famous; from the massive sand dunes in the far north, to Queenstown which has become the Adventure Capital of the World and all of the beautiful landscapes in between! With all your accommodation already booked and paid for, you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Scroll through the gallery below to see some of the highlights!
"Stray is a fantastic company to travel with. It is completely hassle free and the drivers are really helpful. Perfect for lone travellers who still want to do their own thing but enjoy the company of like minded people. Stray stay at some fantastic accomodation which is well of the backpacker track."
All transport: You'll travel in our comfortable mid-sized coaches around New Zealand and your inter-island transport between the North and South Island is included too.
Experienced tour guide: Expect entertaining commentary, insight into local secrets and extra support from your tour guide.
Accommodation: 23 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 protected] to book.
Top rated activities:
- Paihia: day trip to Cape Reinga
- Paihia: Hole in the Rock marine cruise
- Lake Aniwhenua: Kohutapu experience – guided tour of sacred Maori rock carvings, introduction to the Murupara area, Hangi and Maori bread cooking demonstration, delicious ground cooked hangi feast, dessert and continental breakfast.
- Whakahoro: Eco-Warrior 4WD farm tour
- Marahau/Abel Tasman: Aqua Taxi
- Wanaka: Scenic bike ride around the lake
- Queenstown: Jet boat ride
- 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!
- No meals are included with Winter Itineraries except for at Lake Aniwhenua (includes afternoon tea, dinner and breakfast).
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.
No meals are included with Winter Itineraries except for Lake Aniwhenua (includes afternoon tea, dinner and breakfast). Winter itineraries are discounted to compensate for this.
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. Children must travel with a parent or legal guardian and be booked in a private room with their parent or legal guardian. Stray Journeys are not suited to children under 7 years old. Please email [email protected] to book.
Not quite ready to buy, but don't want to miss out?
You can secure your seat with a 15% deposit, and you'll have six months to pay it off. Hit BOOK YOUR TRAVEL below and select from the payment options at checkout. Find out more.
Winter departures: 29 April - 30 September 2019
Departs from: Auckland
Day: Saturdays & Mondays
Haere mai (welcome)! Your Stray adventure kicks off in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland. We depart northbound for the relaxed seaside town of Paihia, gateway to the beautiful Bay of Islands. On the way you’ll learn about the rich early European and Maori history of the region. After stopping to see giant kauri trees en-route, we continue on to Paihia. This afternoon you will do the famous ‘Hole in the Rock’ cruise and make an island stop in the bay. Keep a watchful eye out for playful dolphins and other marine life!
Today you travel to the northernmost point of the country, the spiritually significant Cape Reinga. Highlights of this day trip include a visit to 90 Mile Beach, dune surfing and seeing the clashing of two oceans! You have the option to sample some of the best fish and chips available on your way back to Paihia (own expense). Make sure you pack a lunch, snacks and enough water to fuel you through the day.
This morning you are free to explore this charming seaside town. You could view the 144 islands of the Bay of Islands from above with an exhilarating skydive, visit the nearby Waitangi Treaty Grounds, hop on the ferry to wander around Russell across the bay or just relax on the beach. We depart in the afternoon to head back to Auckland, where you have the evening free in the city.
Today you have a full free day to embrace the laid back Coromandel lifestyle. Get up early to catch the sunrise on the beach, then take a scenic coastal walk or opt to kayak to stunning Cathedral Cove. Another option is to take a guided boat tour through the cliffs and caves of the nearby marine reserve.
We leave Hahei early travelling through to Paeroa, home of New Zealand’s oldest and largest soft drinks company – L&P, where we’ll stop for breakfast. Our drive today will take us through the Waikato region, known for its many dairy farms, rolling hills and the mighty Waikato River (the largest river in New Zealand). This afternoon you’ll have free time to explore the sights and smells of Rotorua.
Often labelled the adventure capital of the North Island, you have a full free day in Rotorua to discover an area rich in Maori heritage, adventure activities and bubbling geothermal wonders. There are plenty of exciting local activities to get the adrenaline pumping, such as whitewater rafting, ziplining through native bush, zorbing or a truly unique guided jet boat adventure up to bath in a hot waterfall. Alternatively you can sign up for a guided tour through the world famous Hobbiton Movie Set.
Today we head further off the beaten track to the remote area of Lake Aniwhenua. A local Maori guide will share the area’s history and lead us to visit the area’s sacred archaeological sites. Tonight, your hosts will teach you how to prepare a traditional 'Hangi' (a feast cooked underground) and introduce you to a fun stick game to challenge your hand-eye coordination. For those visiting during school term, you will be both touched and inspired as you learn about a local community program in which Stray passengers are participating. (D)
Please note: The minimum number required to visit Lake Aniwhenua is 9 people. Groups that don’t meet minimum numbers will overnight in Taupo. Please contact Reservations if your group does not visit Lake Aniwhenua.
After breakfast we depart and head to Taupo to see the mighty Huka Falls, and for the brave we have time for skydiving! In the afternoon, we make our way to Blue Duck Station, an award-winning 7,200 acre high country farm that is both a working station and an environmental conservation leader. Settle in and spend the evening learning a little more about what makes this unique destination one of Stray’s top rated stops. (B)
Today you have a free day to explore this truly amazing and secluded location in depth. The included 4WD farm tour will give you a tantalising taste of life in remote, rural New Zealand. There are plenty of other optional farming and conservation-based activities for you to experience around the property as well.
We depart at 6am and head to the active volcanoes of the nearby dual World Heritage Site of Tongariro National Park. Today you get a chance to do what is rated as one of the world’s best one day walks: the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Be prepared for some epic scenery as you walk around the base of “Mt Doom” from the Lord of the Rings films. Tonight, you can soothe your tired muscles from the big walk in the spa pool at your accommodation or relax with a celebratory drink by the fire.
Today we head to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, via Ohakune, Taihape and Bulls. You have the afternoon to cruise around the shops and cafes along popular Cuba Street, discover the New Zealand wonders on display in Te Papa Museum or stroll along the waterfront.
We catch the early Bluebridge Ferry across the Cook Strait to Picton on the South Island and meet the Stray bus. We will cruise through the famous Marlborough vineyard area and the coastal town of Nelson on our way 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. An Aqua Taxi ride is included in your tour, but you are welcome to upgrade to sailing or kayaking. Hike, sail, kayak or skydive – Abel Tasman National Park is gorgeous no matter which option you choose.
Buckle up for an awesome day driving down the incredibly scenic ‘wild’ West Coast, an area known for its untamed beaches and spectacular rainforest. We’ll pass through Buller Gorge and down a stretch of road that was labelled one of the top ten drives in the world by Lonely Planet. We’ll view the seal colony at Cape Foulwind before continuing further down the coast to the geographic wonder of Punakaiki’s Pancake Rocks and blowholes. Here we’ll take a walk around these unique limestone rock formations and stop for a bite of lunch. Our next stop is the historic gold mining town of Greymouth to collect passengers connecting from Christchurch. From here we’ll continue on, via Hokitika, to the quaint township 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 through a world of ice on the glacier or hike from town to view it from below, then unwind in the relaxing spa pools afterwards.
Depart early to take a walk along the shores of the amazing mirror-like Lake Matheson, and then travel through the mountainous Haast Pass and Makarora with plenty of photo stops along the way. We pass by the beautiful Lake Hawea on our way to arrive in Wanaka by late afternoon
This morning, head out to cycle some of New Zealand’s most beautiful bike paths along the lake before we depart Wanaka and cruise down to the famous original 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 jet boat ride amongst spectacular scenery 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. You will return to Queenstown in the evening. Lunch is not included (you can purchase sandwiches and snacks on the day), so make sure you bring lunch, snacks and water.
Day 3: Make the most of your final free day doing any of the other incredible activities on offer or further exploring Queenstown. If you haven’t already, we recommend riding the gondola or walking to the top of the hill for spectacular views of the town, lake and surrounding mountains.
Depart Queenstown early to drive over the Lindis Pass through the beautiful Mackenzie Country and past the vivid blue waters of Lake Pukaki. Then, we head north to our amazing stop at the base of New Zealand’s highest mountain Aoraki/Mt Cook, arriving in the early afternoon.
Leaving Mt Cook, we make our way through a landscape made famous in the Lord of the Rings films. We’ll stop to admire the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo and the Church of the Good Shepherd – a famous photo stop. Relax in the Tekapo hot pools, go snow tubing or ice skating or hike up to the Mt John observatory where you’ll witness stunning views of the lake from above. After lunch, we will continue to our overnight stop in Rangitata Peel Forest. Tonight, we’ll stay in one of Canterbury’s original sheep stations.
Depart early for an express haul across the Canterbury plains to Christchurch, arriving at the Christchurch International Airport at 9.40am, where your journey officially comes to an end. If you have more time to explore, we recommend checking out some of the city’s highlights, such as the Re:Start Mall, Quake City exhibition, Canterbury Museum or the gorgeous Botanical Gardens. We hope you’ve had a blast!
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). Upgrades do not apply to Hahei accommodation (2 nights).
- Single Room: +$1325
- Double/Twin Room: +$635 per person
To request an accommodation upgrade for your whole tour please email us ([email protected]) 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.
- The standard accommodation in Hahei is quad-share and upgrades are limited.
Need to Know
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 New Zealand
- Inter-island transport between North and South Island (for National Tours)
- 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.