mount cook south island header
Home. Tours » Mackinnon

Mackinnon

Spend two weeks exploring the South Island with an awesome guide and a group of like-minded travellers. Take in the diverse and stunning landscapes and embrace those once in a lifetime experiences such as spotting marine life in Kaikoura, cruising through Doubtful Sound, jet boating around Mt Aspiring National Park and stargazing in Mount Cook…. Just to name a few things!


Highlights: 

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


"The 2-week journey was a perfect way to see most of New Zealand's beautiful south island. We drove more than 5000km through breathtaking scenery. Travelling in a small group allowed us to get off the beaten track a couple of times. It is hassle free with the pre-booked accomodations, lots of great activities are included and discounts apply to other activities you can book in addition (but there is never any pressure to do so). My personal highlight was the Doubtful Sound Overnight cruise, which was absolutely stunning. As most travellers on the journey, I travelled by myself. I met great people in all age groups from all over the world and truly enjoyed it."
Meike, February 2016

Read more reviews


Summer 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: 13 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: 10 breakfasts and 6 dinners

Top rated activities:

  • Wine tasting at a vineyard cellar door in Marlborough
  • Abel Tasman National Park water taxi ride
  • Visit Cape Foulwind seal colony
  • Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes
  • Walk around Lake Matheson
  • Admire the stunning colours of the Blue Pools
  • Thrilling Jet Boat Ride in Mt Aspiring National Park
  • Overnight cruise on a custom designed ship in the Doubtful Sound - this is one of New Zealand's most premier off the beaten track experiences!
  • Sea kayaking in Doubtful Sound
  • Scenic bike ride around Lake Wanaka
  • Walk the Hooker Valley Track in the Mount Cook National Park
  • Explore Lake Tekapo area.

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 (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:

  • Stray Journey Summer itineraries are October – April/May. Stray Journeys Winter tours operate from May - September and follow a different itinerary from the Summer tour. View the Mackinnon 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.
  • Luggage should be restricted to 15kg in a single bag, plus a small day pack. 

Itinerary

Summer Departures: 20 October 2018 - 4 May 2019

Departs from: Christchurch
Day: Saturday
Time: 8:30am from All Stars Inn / 9am from Christchurch International Airport

You can select your preferred departure date at check out. 

Journey: Start Christchurch to Hanmer Springs

Nau mai, haere mai (welcome)! Your journey kicks off this morning when we depart 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. 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 the seaside port town of Picton. You have free time this afternoon to go for a walk to get your bearings in this charming town, stroll along the waterfront or relax in the spa pool at your accommodation.

INCLUDED: Cozy villa

Spend the morning soaking up the views of the stunning Marlborough Sounds by foot or bicycle on one of the nearby tracks. You’ll meet your group at midday to drive 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 on the edge of the national park. Includes dinner.

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

INCLUDED: 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 

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 around 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 rejoin the group in Christchurch this evening. This is where your tour comes to an end – we hope you had a blast on your New Zealand journey! Includes breakfast.

Accommodation

We've chosen high quality backpacker accommodation in a variety of hostels, wilderness lodges, cabins and historic hotels.  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: +$750
  • Double/Twin Room: +$350 per person 

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

 

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 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.  

Mackinnon SJSummer 2018 19 route2

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