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Cook - Summer

On this tour you'll explore New Zealand from top to bottom, getting off the beaten track and seeing all the things on your NZ Bucket List! You'll travel in a small group with an experienced local guide, exploring unique destinations and immersing yourself in local culture and New Zealand's beautiful environment. From relaxing on golden sand beaches, witnessing blue ice formations on glaciers and exploring geothermal wonderlands, to hiking snow capped mountains and sand-boarding down giant dunes - it doesn’t get more immersive than this!


Highlights

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


"I had an amazing time travelling New Zealand with Stray (I did the Cook Summer tour - 23 days). Our busdriver/guide Lantern was absolutely great. His neverending enthusiasm was extremely contagious and I'm pretty sure everyone is still yelling 'Sweet as' and 'Good morning, good morning!' every day while missing the loveshack and the final countdown. For me it was the first time I travelled with a group and honestly it could not have been any better; our group was amazing! All activities were great but spending NYE in doubtful sound was definitely the highlight of our trip. Only improvement I can think of is spending a little more time in Wellington. I would definitely recommend travelling with Stray if you want to make the most of your time in New Zealand."
Kirsten Withagen, January 2018

Read more reviews


Summer Tour Inclusions:

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’ quad 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.

Meals: 20 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 12 dinners

Top rated activities:

  • Tree hugging at Parry Kauri Forest
  • Swim at scenic Waipu Cove
  • Bay of Islands Wildlife Cruise
  • Ferry ride across Hokianga Harbour
  • Sand boarding
  • Visit Waipoua Forest and Tane Mahuta (NZ’s largest Kauri tree).
  • Swim at Kai Iwi Lakes
  • Walk to the world famous Cathedral Cove.
  • Kai cooking demonstration at Hahei.
  • Visit Hot Water Beach 
  • See bubbling hot mud pools in Rotorua.
  • Experience Maori culture at Tamaki Maori Village
  • 4WD eco-wilderness farm tour
  • Tongariro Alpine Crossing
  • Take the Bluebridge Ferry across the Cook Strait to the South Island.
  • Wine tasting at a vineyard cellar door in Marlborough
  • Hike Abel Tasman National Park. You can choose to take a water taxi ride or hire a stand up paddle board
  • Visit Cape Foulwind seal colony, West Coast
  • Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes
  • Walks around Lake Matheson and the Blue Pools, Mt Aspiring National Park
  • Jet Boat Ride in Makarora
  • Doubtful Sound overnight cruise, Fiordland National Park
  • Sea kayaking in Doubtful Sound, Fiordland National Park
  • Mountain biking in Wanaka
  • Walk on Hooker Valley track, Mt Cook National Park
  • Explore Lake Tekapo area
  • Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa
  • Conical Hill walk, Hanmer Springs
  • Seal spotting in Kaikoura.

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!


What to Bring

Sturdy walking shoes/boots, swimming gear, hat and sunscreen, motion sickness tablets, water bottle, towel and toiletries, warm clothing and waterproof jacket, insect repellent, camera. 


Please note:

  • Stray Journey Summer itineraries are October – April. Stray Journeys Winter tours operate from May - September and follow a different itinerary from the Summer tour. View the Cook Winter Journey.
  • 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 [email protected] to book. Stray Journeys are not suited to children under 7 years old.
  • At Whakahoro standard accommodation is six share.
  • Upgrade accommodation is excluded in Hahei and Doubtful Sound. 
  • Luggage should be restricted to 15kg in a single bag, plus a small day pack. 

Cook - Summer

$4,445

Itinerary

Summer Departures: 30 September 2018 - 28 April 2019

Departs from: Auckland
Day: Sundays
Time: 7am

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

Download the 2018/19 Summer itinerary here

Journey: Auckland to Paihia

Nau mai, haere mai (welcome)! Your journey kicks off in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland. Pick-ups start at your accommodation bright and early before we head north to the seaside town of Paihia. We stop en-route to hug some of the world’s mightiest trees, the native kauri, enjoy a hike to a beautiful waterfall and stop for lunch and a swim at scenic Waipu Cove. This is followed by a trip to the historic Waitangi Treaty Grounds (own expense), before settling into our accommodation where you’ll have a group meal and the evening free to relax in Paihia. Includes dinner.

INCLUDED: Haka Lodge - Beachfront hostel

OPTIONAL: Waitangi Treaty Grounds

INCLUDED: Tree hugging huge kauri trees at Parry Kauri Forest, Waipu Cove

This morning we take a scenic cruise around the beautiful Bay of Islands, a collection of 144 islands bursting with marine life, and there’s no better way to see it than by boat. Keep a watchful eye out and you may see wild dolphins!

In the afternoon it’s off to the Hokianga Harbour, where we will see the huge sand dunes. Finish the day with a Kiwi classic for dinner, traditional fish and chips. Includes breakfast and dinner.

We start the morning with a ferry ride across the Hokianga Harbour to experience the thrill of sand boarding down massive dunes (weather dependant) before we start to make our way south through the mighty Waipoua Forest. Here we will have the opportunity to visit NZ’s largest kauri trees. We visit the idyllic Kai Iwi Lakes for a swim in the beautiful crystal clear waters surrounded by a pure white sandy beach, before returning to the ‘big smoke’ for a late afternoon arrival. Includes breakfast.

INCLUDED: Nomads Auckland - Central city hostel

INCLUDED: Hokianga Ferry ride, sand boarding, visit Waipoua Forest (NZ’s largest Kauri trees), swim in the Kai Iwi Lakes

We depart Auckland and head south east to the pristine sands of Hahei Beach, from which you can access the famous Cathedral Cove. Accessible only by foot, boat or kayak, you’ll discover some of New Zealand’s most spectacular scenery and stunning sea views in this beautiful coastal spot. Cathedral Cove is a definite ‘must see’ on the Coromandel Peninsula. After an afternoon of seaside exploration, we gather as a group for an entertaining hands-on cooking demonstration to prepare some delicious ‘kai’ (Maori for ‘food’) together for dinner. Includes dinner.

Today we start by driving to Hot Water Beach, a unique surf beach where you can dig a hole in the sand to create in your own personal spa pool (tide dependent). After the beach, we’ll make our way towards Rotorua, stopping on the way to drop off those who want to visit the hobbit holes at the world-famous Hobbiton Movie Set. For those who choose to head straight to Rotorua, we’ll stop before we get to town to stretch our legs with an easy walk to watch white water rafters navigate the waterfalls of the Kaituna River. This evening you will be welcomed into the authentic Tamaki Maori Village, where you will discover Maori art, ancient rituals and traditions. Tonight we dine on a delicious hangi (Maori feast), enjoy an interactive cultural performance and the company of our Maori hosts. Includes breakfast and dinner.

INCLUDED: Central city lodge

OPTIONAL: Visit Hobbiton

INCLUDED: Dig your own spa pool at Hot Water Beach (tide dependent), Kaituna waterfall walk, Tamaki cultural experience with traditional hangi meal, Kapa Haka (Maori song and dance) and interactive cultural performance

You have a full free day in Rotorua to discover an area well-known for its Maori heritage, adventure activities and geothermal wonders. Here you have plenty of great optional activities to choose from, such as white water rafting, ziplining through native bush, mountain biking and much more. A great option to finish the day is to spend the evening soaking in the hot pools at the luxurious Polynesian Spa. Includes breakfast.

It’s a very early start this morning so we can make our way to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Tongariro National Park, where you’ll get the chance to do what is rated as one of the world’s best one day walks, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Trek through dramatic natural scenery past volcanic peaks, vast craters and stunning turquoise lakes on one of the most spectacular treks in New Zealand. Alternatively you can go on one the shorter walks within this volcanic region or visit the Volcanic Centre Museum. Includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.

After your big day of hiking, you get a chance to sleep in because we won’t depart until mid-morning. Our destination today is one of the most remote parts of the North Island accessible by road. We’re heading for the award winning Blue Duck Station in Whakahoro, a 7,200 acre high country farm that is both a working sheep and beef station and an environmental conservation leader. This afternoon you get the opportunity to take part in a 4WD Bush Safari and farm adventure, where you’ll explore this vast land and the New Zealand native bush, discover the remains of an unbelievable local history, and learn about the farm’s conservation efforts. Your dinner tonight is cooked using local produce. Includes breakfast and dinner.

We depart early to arrive into Wellington around midday. Wellington is known as the ‘coolest little capital in the world’ thanks to Lonely Planet, and it’s a great place to check out the lively arts, shopping and craft beer and café culture scene. As New Zealand’s capital city, it is home to New Zealand’s parliament and the iconic Beehive government building. This afternoon, you have the option to tour the world famous Weta Workshop, marvel at the natural and cultural wonders of Te Papa National Museum or wander along the waterfront Oriental Parade. Includes breakfast.

Leaving Wellington we’ll travel across the Cook Strait on the Bluebridge Ferry to the South Island’s coastal town of Picton. Here we meet our coach and cruise through the famous Marlborough wine region.  We visit the cellar door shop at a local vineyard to sample New Zealand’s world famous Sauvignon Blanc before heading to the spectacular Abel Tasman National Park. Tonight we enjoy some delicious seafood and a BBQ dinner at our exclusive campsite accommodation. Includes breakfast and dinner.

INCLUDED: The Barn - Beach accommodation in the national park

INCLUDED: Bluebridge Ferry trip, winery cellar door visit

Today is a free day to experience the incredible Abel Tasman National Park. Explore this stunning, coastal area famous for being one of the sunniest spots in New Zealand. Walk the coastal track and discover some of New Zealand’s best natural golden beaches or choose an optional activity like sailing or sea kayaking (own expense). Tonight you can self-cater and use the BBQ facilities at our accommodation from dinner. Includes breakfast.

INCLUDED: The BarnBeach accommodation on the edge of the national park

OPTIONAL: Sailing, sea kayaking

INCLUDED: Abel Tasman Track and Aqua Taxi or paddle board hire

We start early to head south along the ‘wild’ West Coast, travelling on the rugged rocky coastline that makes this stretch of road one of the country’s top drives. We’ll stop at Cape Foulwind to view a wild seal colony that’s active year round, and then make our way further down the coast to visit the spectacular limestone Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and blowholes. From there, we carry on to our next overnight stop in the quaint little West Coast town of Franz Josef, home to the mighty Franz Josef Glacier. Includes dinner.

Enjoy a free day to get out and explore the natural wonder of Franz Josef Glacier. We highlight recommend a guided glacier tour to navigate the maze of ice and explore the incredible glacier (own expense). There are also many excellent bush hikes available in the region if you decide not to get up on the glacier. Tonight’s dinner is up to you with the opportunity to dine at one of the local cafes or restaurants in town or make use of the self-catering kitchen at our accommodation. Includes breakfast.

Today we head down the West Coast towards Mount Aspiring National Park, stopping to take in some breathtaking scenery at the amazing mirror Lake Matheson, NZ’s most photographed lake.  See waterfalls as we travel through the mountainous Haast Pass towards Makarora then visit the stunning Blue Pools.  On arrival in Mount Aspiring National Park we go jet boating, experience the best in shallow water boating skimming just inches from the riverbed, see pristine waterways, snow-capped peaks and native bush. Includes breakfast and dinner

INCLUDED: Makarora Tourist Centre - Unique mountain chalets

INCLUDED: Walk around Lake Matheson - Mirror Lake, walk through beech forest to the Blue Pools, jet boat in Mt Aspiring National Park

Today we venture into Fiordland National Park, one of New Zealand’s most beautiful and untouched locations, with stunning ice-carved fiords, valleys, lakes and mountain scenery. Within Fiordland we visit the magnificent Doubtful Sound, deepest of all the fiords, for a truly magical cruise experience surrounded by towering peaks and unspoiled wilderness. We will board a purpose-built boat and enjoy complimentary afternoon tea while cruising past fur seals, penguins and dolphins on our way to tonight’s anchorage. There are sea kayaks available if you’re keen to paddle in the fiord. If it’s a clear night, make sure to go up to the upper deck after dinner for exceptional stargazing. Includes breakfast and dinner.

INCLUDED: Overnight on the boat, anchored within a secluded bay in a UNESCO World Heritage Site

INCLUDED: Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise, sea kayaking, wildlife spotting

We depart Doubtful Sound around midday, leaving behind the stunning Fiordland to head for the ‘adventure capital of the world’ Queenstown. Queenstown offers an optional big (make that huge) night out with excellent restaurants, pubs and live music. Includes breakfast.

INCLUDED: Lodge located close to town with awesome views

You have two free days in Queenstown to fully explore everything on offer. With so many fantastic activity options, it’s a great place to spend a couple days, no matter what your past-time of choice is. Options include: bungy jumping, zipline tours, canyoning, Shotover River jet boating, skiing, skydiving, a walk up Ben Lomond or Queenstown hill for amazing views, or just enjoy the stunning scenery and do nothing. Optional activities and meals not indicated are at your own expense. Includes breakfast.

INCLUDED: Lodge located close to town with awesome views

OPTIONAL: Any adventure activity you can imagine!

We’ll jump back on the bus for a short drive to Wanaka, where we’ll spend the morning biking some of New Zealand’s most scenic lakeside trails. After lunch, we head over the Lindis Pass through the picturesque Mackenzie region to the base of the country’s highest mountain, Aoraki/Mt Cook. There is time for a hike through the Hooker Valley for breathtaking views of the dramatic mountain landscape, or opt to take an alpine scenic flight (own expense). This is also one of the best places in New Zealand to join an evening stargazing tour. Includes breakfast and dinner.

Today we make our way through a landscape made famous in the 'Lord of the Rings' films. We’ll take a break for a stroll on the shores of Lake Tekapo, iconic for its historic church and turquoise waters. Between Tekapo and Christchurch there is an option for thrill seekers to hop-off and join a top-notch Grade 5 white water adventure on the Rangitata River (own expense). Those not rafting will continue on to Christchurch, where your driver guide will point out the highlights of the South Island’s largest city. The rafters will re-join the group at the accommodation in Christchurch this evening. Includes breakfast.

This morning we drive from the city centre to the historic French settlement of Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula. After exploring the delights of the village, we’ll have time for lunch – make sure you sample one of the wonderful French pastries on offer in the charming cafes. Next, we head to the peaceful alpine town of Hanmer Springs, where you can spend the evening surrounded by mountains and forest as you relax in the thermal hot pools. Tonight is a group dinner. Includes dinner.

INCLUDED: Cozy alpine chalets

INCLUDED: Hanmer Springs thermal pools and spa

We start today with an invigorating walk up Conical Hill for the best views in Hanmer Springs. Then, we’ll make our way to the East Coast and the coastal village of Kaikoura, famous for a huge array of natural wonders from land to sea. We arrive in Kaikoura so you have free time to experience all this location has to offer. Why not go out on the water and experience one of Kaikoura’s famous dolphin and whale spotting tours (own expense), see seals sitting right beside the road at Goose Bay or wander around the peninsula and check out the breathtaking views from the lookout. Includes breakfast.

Today we’ll travel north on a scenic drive along rugged coastal roads to Picton, where we catch the interisland ferry crossing over the Cook Strait back to Wellington. The evening in Wellington is free – why not discover some of this funky town’s culinary delights at one of the top notch restaurants along Cuba Street.

INCLUDED: Central city hostel

INCLUDED: Ferry from Picton to Wellington

Today is an express day, via National Park back to New Zealand’s largest city Auckland. We stop along the way for photo opportunities and have lunch in National Park village, before heading back to Auckland for a late afternoon arrival. We hope you had a blast on your New Zealand journey! Includes breakfast.

Cook - Summer

$4,445

Timetable

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Cook - Summer

$4,445

Accommodation

We've chosen high quality backpacker accommodation in a variety of hostels, wilderness lodges and cabins.  Quad-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: +$1395
  • Double/Twin Room: +$690 per person 

To request an accommodation upgrade, please email us ([email protected]) before you book to check availability. 

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.

The standard accommodation in the Coromandel and on the Doubtful Sound Cruise is quad-share and upgrades are limited.  If available you can upgrade on arrival and pay direct to the operator. 

Cook SJSummer 2018 19 route 01

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 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