This trip encompasses the very best parts of New Zealand in under 3 weeks. Prepare to have the time of your life with a group of like-minded travellers and an energetic guide. Visit the famous hot water beach, beautiful waterfalls, the stunning beaches of the Abel Tasman National Park, see the milky way in Mount Cook National Park, and hike the Tongariro Crossing - New Zealand's most famous day hike - you'll tick off all the all important ‘Bucket List’ activities!
"I spent 16 days on the Stray Blake Journey and thoroughly enjoyed it. We were maximum 24 people on a small bus covering most of the best bits of NZ. Accommodation was good (with the occasional top bunk) and food was excellent. Our guide was helpful and informative and often went the extra mile to make sure we were OK. People got on well with each other and those who joined us part way through quickly felt included. With only 17 days to see most of NZ and a wish for someone else to make the arrangements and give me information (rather than having to consult the guidebook) it was the best option for me."
You'll travel in our comfortable mid-sized coaches around New Zealand and your inter-island ferry transport is included too.
Far more than just a driver - expect entertaining commentary, insight into local secrets and extra support from your guide.
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.
16 nights’ accommodation in a variety of quality hostels, wilderness lodges, cabins and an overnight cruise.
16 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 9 dinners
Top rated activities
From hiking across volcanic plateaus to jet boating, there are so many awesome activity included:
- 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
- Take the Bluebridge Ferry across the Cook Strait to the South Island
- Abel Tasman National Park water taxi ride
- 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
- Tasman Valley walk, Mount Cook National Park
- Explore Lake Tekapo area.
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: 9 October 2019 - 22 April 2020
Departs from: Auckland
You can select your departure date and check availability at checkout.
Nau mai, haere mai (welcome)! Your journey kicks off in New Zealand’s largest city Auckland. 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 ‘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.
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.
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.
Leaving Wellington, we’ll travel across the Cook Strait to the South Island’s coastal town of Picton. Here we meet our coach and cruise through the famous Marlborough wine region. We visit a local vineyard’s cellar door 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
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 sand beaches or choose an optional activity like sailing or sea kayaking (own expense). Tonight, you can self-cater using the BBQ and kitchen facilities at our accommodation. Includes breakfast
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 along the way to visit the spectacular limestone Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and blowholes, as well as call in at the historic mining town of Hokitika, one of the best spots to find a greenstone souvenir. 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 breakfast and dinner
Enjoy a free day to get out and explore the natural wonder of Franz Josef Glacier. Navigate the maze of ice and explore the incredible landscape on a Franz Josef Glacier guided tour which we highly recommend (own expense). There are also many excellent bush hikes available in the region. Tonight, you can self-cater in the communal kitchen at our accommodation or take the opportunity to dine at one of the local cafes or restaurants in town. Includes breakfast
Today we head further down the West Coast towards Mount Aspiring National Park, stopping to take in the breathtaking scenery at the amazing mirror-like 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 to experience the best in shallow water boating, skimming just inches from the riverbed, viewing pristine waterways, snow-capped peaks and native bush. Includes breakfast and dinner
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
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 a wide variety of excellent restaurants, pubs and live music around town. Includes breakfast
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. Why not start your first free day with the heart pounding adrenalin rush of one of Queenstown’s adventure activities? Options include: bungy jumping, zipline tours, canyoning, jet boating, skiing and skydiving. Optional activities and meals not indicated are at your own expense. Includes breakfast
Make the most of your final free day doing any of the incredible activities still on your bucket list or simply spend the day further exploring this spectacularly scenic little town. If you haven’t already, we recommend riding the gondola or walking to the top of the hill for the best views of the town, lake and surrounding mountains. Optional activities and meals not indicated are at your own expense. Includes breakfast.
We’ll jump back on the bus for a short drive to Wanaka, where we’ll spend the morning cycling along some of the world’s most beautiful lakeside bike paths. 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 Tasman 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
You'll stay in high quality backpacker accommodation in a variety of hostels, wilderness lodge, cabins and even overnight on a boat in the middle of Doubtful Sound!
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: +$1075
- Double/Twin Room: +$515 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]
At some destinations your private room will include an ensuite bathroom and some it won't.
The standard accommodation at Hahei 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.
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, biking and kayaking in addition to walking.
- 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 Wednesday from Auckland between October and April
Pick up locations and times:
Waterloo Quadrant (10 Waterloo Quadrant) - 7.30am
70 Queen Street (by Bank of NZ) - 7.35am
YHA City (Go to corner of Queen St outside Bus Stop 7062) - 7.45am
YHA International - 7.45am
Base (Corner of Queen and Darby Street) - 7.55am
Travelling Off-Peak: May - September
Between May and September, a variation of this tour is available: Blake (Off-Peak) Tour.
This tour follows a different itinerary to suit the season.