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Start your tour from Auckland and take in all the highlights of the North Island from Paihia to Wellington, returning to Auckland. Soak up the sunshine, spot dolphins in the Bay of Islands, dig your own spa bath at Hot Water Beach and learn about Maori culture at the Tamaki Maori Village. To top it all off, you’ll be travelling with a knowledgeable guide and a small group of like-minded people who you'll be calling friends in no time!

Tour Highlights: 

"It was such a great experience, we saw amazing places and I met wonderful people of all ages and nationalities. Discovering New Zealand with Stray is a great option, especially if you are traveling solo, as it provides everything you need, good accommodation, great activities and the chance to meet a lot of awesome, open-minded travellers. Would definitely recommend Stray and do other tours in the future if I get the chance. Thank you guys!"
Mathilde, January 2018

What's Included: 

All transport

You'll travel in our comfortable mid-sized coaches around the North Island. 

Stray Guide

Far more than just a driver - expect entertaining commentary, insight into local secrets and extra support from your guide. 

Strademark icon 3 Strademark Places

These are the special off-the-beaten-track destinations on the route that make Stray's tours stand out from the crowd. You can see them marked with a heart on the map because they're the places our travellers love.


9 nights’ accommodation in a variety of quality hostels, wilderness lodges and cabins.


8 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 6 dinners

trekkingTop rated activities

From hiking across volcanic plateaus to sand-boarding down giant dunes, there are so many awesome activity included:


  • Tree hugging at Parry Kauri Forest
  • Swim or walk to waterfalls at 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
  • 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


Your Guide can help you book any additional activities you want to do that are not included in the itinerary, often at a special discounted Stray price!


Summer Departures: 6 October 2019 - 19 April 2020

Departs from: Auckland
Day: Sundays
Time: 7am

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

Journey: Auckland to Paihia

Nau mai, haere mai (welcome)! Your journey kicks off in New Zealand’s largest city Auckland, known as the ‘City of Sails’ because of its location between the Waitemata and Manukau Harbours, making it a boaters' paradise. Pick-ups start at your accommodation bright and early, before we head north to the seaside town of Paihia, gateway to the Bay of Islands. We stop en-route to hug some of the world’s mightiest trees, the native Kauri, and stop for a swim or walk at the 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. Includes dinner.

INCLUDED: Central Bay of Islands Hostel

OPTIONAL: Waitangi Treaty Grounds

INCLUDED: Tree hugging huge kauri trees at Parry Kauri Forest, swim or walk to see waterfalls at Waipu Cove (weather dependent)

This morning we take a scenic cruise in the beautiful Bay of Islands, a collection of 144 islands bursting with marine life. There’s no better way to see it than by boat - keep an 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 across the harbour. Tonight, you have the option to take part in a Maori-guided twilight encounter in the Waipoua Forest, where you'll learn about Maori legends and the spiritual inhabitants of the forest, and visit the largest Kauri tree in the world, the “God of the Forest” Tane Mahuta (own expense). Finish the day with a Kiwi classic for dinner, traditional fish and chips. Includes breakfast and dinner.

INCLUDED: Harbourside hotel

OPTIONAL: Footprints Waipoua twilight encounter, bone carving

We start the morning with a ferry ride across the Hokianga Harbour for a sand boarding adrenalin rush (weather dependent) before we start to make our way south through the mighty Waipoua Forest. Here we will have the opportunity to see NZ’s largest Kauri trees. We'll stop at 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’ Auckland 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. We’ll also pay a visit 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). Includes dinner.

Today, we’ll make our way towards the North Island's main tourism hub of Rotorua. 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 motel

INCLUDED: 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 and geothermal activity. Here you have the chance to do some great optional activities, such as a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set, white water rafting, ziplining through native bush, mountain biking and 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 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.

INCLUDED: The Park Hotel - Alpine lodge

INCLUDED: Tongariro Alpine Summer Crossing* or Taranaki and Tawhai Falls walks

*If the Un-guided Summer Crossing is unavailable and a guide is required, you can upgrade to the Guided Winter Crossing (additional cost) 

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 by early afternoon. 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 marvel at the wonders of Te Papa National Museum or wander along the Oriental Parade for excellent views of the city. Includes breakfast.

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


You'll stay in high quality backpacker accommodation in a variety of hotels, hostels, wilderness lodge and cabins. 


Accommodation Upgrades

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: +$690
  • Double/Twin Room: +$395 per person (can only be booked if you are travelling with a companion). 

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

Please note: 

At some destinations your private room will include an ensuite bathroom and some it won't.

The standard accommodation at Hahei is quad-share and upgrades are limited.  If available, you can upgrade on arrival and pay direct to the operator. 

At Blue Duck Station the standard accommodation is six-share. 


Need to Know

Stray Journeys are small group tours designed to take you on a once-of-a-lifetime journey, with plenty of awesome stops along the way showing you the real New Zealand!

Some key details...

  • Group Size: Small Group (Max 24, Avg 18)
  • Physical Rating:  Average - our tours include light hiking
  • Transport: Travel by private, air-conditioned minibus (14-24 seats). 
  • Guides: Your Guide is also your driver - expect entertaining commentary, to learn some interesting facts about New Zealand and to hear a crazy story or two. 
  • Accommodation: Standard accommodation is quad-share. Upgrades may be available on request.  
  • Activities: Top-rated activities are included. If you want to do any additional activities, not specified in the itinerary, these can be booked via your guide, often at special Stray price. 
  • Meals: Meals are included in this tour. Any dietary requirements or allergies must be advised upon booking.
  • Stray Journeys Travellers: Our travellers are from all over the world, they are energetic, adventurous and mainly aged between 22-35 years old. 70% of our travellers are travelling solo.
  • Children: While not common, children aged between 7 - 17 are permitted to travel on this tour providing they are travelling with a parent or legal guardian and are booked to stay in a private room together. A 15% discount off these rates is available for children. Please email [email protected] to enquire about availability. 


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. 

Luggage should be restricted to 15kg in a single bag or suitcase, plus a small day pack. 


Every Sunday from Auckland between October and April

Pick up locations and times: 

Waterloo Quadrant (10 Waterloo Quadrant) - 6.55am ​

70 Queen Street (by Bank of NZ) - 7.00am ​

YHA City (Go to corner of Queen St outside Bus Stop 7062) - 7.10am ​

YHA International - 7.10am ​

Base (Corner of Queen and Darby Street) - 7.20am ​

Sky Tower (Victoria Street) - 7.20am


Travelling Off-Peak: May - September

Between May and September, a variation of this tour is available: Batten (Off-Peak) Tour.

This tour follows a different itinerary to suit the season.