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Home. Mackinnon - Winter

Mackinnon - Winter

This tour operates in our off-peak season between 6 May - 26 Oct 2018
View the Mackinnon Summer tour (departing 7 Oct 2017 - 5 May 2018)

The Mackinnon Tour is named after a New Zealand explorer and tour guide, originally from Argyllshire, Scotland. Mackinnon emigrated to New Zealand in the 1870s and was employed by the Otago Survey Department to try and find a tourist route into Milford Sound. In 1888 he was successful in discovering a path across the rugged landscape and named it Mackinnon's Pass. Follow in Mackinnon's footsteps exploring the South Island, taking in the diverse and stunning landscapes, and seeing all the highlights. 

Winter Tour Highlights

Scroll through the gallery below to see some of the highlights! 

Winter Tour Inclusions

All transport: You'll travel in our comfortable mid-sized coaches around New Zealand.

Experienced tour guide: Expect entertaining commentary, insight into local secrets and extra support from your tour guide. 

Accommodation: 14 nights’ dorm-share accommodation in a variety of quality backpacker hostels, wilderness lodges and cabins.  Upgrades to twin and single rooms are available - email to book.

Top rated activities:

  • Marahau/Abel Tasman: Aqua Taxi
  • Wanaka: Scenic bike ride around the lake
  • Queenstown: Shotover Jet
  • 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!

"The concept of Stray is really good for solo travelling! I was quite apprehensive about doing something alone, but found that this was a perfect mix of solo travellers and small friend groups. I felt too old to be doing Kiwi Experience and found the age range to be 24-31 with a few 35+ on the trip. Our group formed a really tight bond and we did almost all the activities together and no one was left alone. The driver was super organised and really engaging on the trip and she really ensured we got everywhere on time and equipped with information."
Kaleigh Fennah, September 2016

Read more reviews


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.

Please note:

  • 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.
  • 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 travelling with a parent or legal guardian. Please email to book. Stray Journeys are not suited to children under 7 years old.

Not quite ready to buy, but don't want to miss out? 
Hold your seat for 72hours for just $10, or put down 15% 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.

Mackinnon - Winter



Winter departures: 6 May - 26 October 2018

Departs from: Christchurch International Airport.
Day: Sundays & Tuesdays
Time: 8:00am 

You can select your departure date and check availability at checkout. 

Summer Departures: 7 October - 5 May 2018 - Summer itineraries differ so if you're interested in booking the Mackinnon Journey in the summer season click here.

Christchurch to Kaikoura (Winter Journey)

Haere mai (welcome)! Your adventure begins when we depart from the Christchurch International Airport this morning and enjoy a beautiful drive up the coast to seaside Kaikoura. You have the afternoon free for activities to check out the amazing marine wildlife that call this area home.

Leaving Kaikoura this morning, we wind our way up the rugged coastal roads with stops for photos and to visit a seal colony. We arrive into Picton around midday so you have plenty of time to explore this seaside town – go for a walk to take in the stunning views of the Marlborough Sounds or kick back and relax in the spa at your accommodation.

INCLUDED: Picton Villa - Cosy villa.

Seal colony visit, Queen Charlotte Sound view walk.

Enjoy a free morning to relax and explore Picton. There’s time for you to take advantage of the free fishing gear and bikes on offer from the accommodation. You will meet your group at midday and we will cruise through the famous Marlborough vineyard area and the coastal town of Nelson on the way to our amazing overnight stop of Marahau, right on the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park.

INCLUDED: The Barn - Unique accommodation on the edge of the national park 

OPTIONAL: Wine tasting, skydiving

Swim, walk, mussel tasting around the fire 

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.

Today we head south towards the ‘wild’ West Coast passing through Buller Gorge and down a stretch of road that was rated one of the Top 10 drives in the world by Lonely Planet. We stop at Cape Foulwind to visit the seal colony and then head for the historic coal mining town, Westport. The sunset from our accommodation tonight is a must see if the weather is clear!

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

OPTIONAL: Surfing, caving, craft brewery tour. 

Westport seal colony, West Coast sunset.

An early start takes us further down the rugged West Coast to the spectacular limestone Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and blowholes. We’ll stop to take a short walk and grab refreshments at the café before we head for the historic gold mining town, Greymouth. We do pick-ups in Greymouth and make a stop in Hokitika before reaching the quaint little town of Franz Josef, home to the mighty Franz Josef Glacier.

INCLUDED: Rainforest Retreat - Lodge in the middle of the rainforest

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and their mighty blowholes, Truman Track walk. 

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

INCLUDED: Base Wanaka - Central hostel

Lake Matheson walk, Ship Creek walk, Blue Pools walk, Thundercreek Falls walk, explore Wanaka

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 Shotover Jet Boat ride through the spectacular Shotover River Canyons 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.

INCLUDED: Mt Cook Backpacker Lodge - Stunning alpine lodge

OPTIONAL: Visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, 6WD Argo Tour.

Take photos of awe-inspiring scenery, do one of the many great short walks to the Hooker Glacial Lake. 

Today we make our way through a landscape made famous by the Lord of the Rings films. First, we head to turquoise Lake Tekapo, where we stop for ice skating, snow tubing or a swim at the hot springs. In the early afternoon we pass through Geraldine, and then continue through to spend the night in the heart of the Rangitata Peel Forest.

INCLUDED: Rangitata Rafts Lodge - One of Canterbury’s original sheep stations

OPTIONAL: Ice skating, snow tubing or soak in the hot springs.

Take photos of stunning scenery, go for a walk.

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!

Mackinnon - Winter



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Mackinnon - Winter



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). 


  • Single Room: +$750
  • Double/Twin Room: +$350 per person 

To request an accommodation upgrade for your whole tour please email us ( 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). 

> Stray preferred accommodation list

Please note: 

  • 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.
Mackinnon offpeak2018 map

How It Works

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!

What's included? 

  • Bus transport around the South Island
  • 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