The cheeky little fantail is your reliable companion for the South Island. She’ll have you fanning round the South Island highlights in a loop, showing off her favourite foraging spots. From the golden sands of Abel Tasman National Park, to the West Coast's glaciers and rainforests, the wildlife wonderland of Kaikoura and the party capital of Queenstown, she’s not shy of a good time!
Option to start/finish Wellington: Sail the Cook Strait from Wellington to Picton (and back again at the end of your tour). Select this option from the dropdown when booking.
Option to start/finish Christchurch: If you’d like to start your tour from Christchurch, we can help you to book transport to Picton either via Public Bus or via the magnificent Coastal Explorer Train (please note that the scenic train is only available during the Summer Months Dec-Apr). Select one of these options from the dropdown when booking.
Scroll through to see what you'll get up to or watch the video
Dorm Style Accommodation (4-10 beds) is included. You'll stay in comfortable backpacker hostels, cabins and lodges. All accommodation facilities have self-catering kitchen facilities.
Take the pressure off, kick back, relax, soak up the scenery and let someone else do the driving. You'll travel by private, air-conditioned bus.
Expect entertaining anecdotes, great recommendations, extra support and local insider knowledge from your charismatic guide. They know every inch of this country. You can't get this from a google search!
- 10 June, 15 July, 12 August & 16 September
- 14 & 28 October
- 11 & 25 November
- 9 December
- 6, 20 & 27 January
- 3, 10, 17 & 24 February
- 3, 10, 17, 24 & 31 March
- 14 & 28 April
- 12 May, 9 June, 7 July & 4 August
- 1, 15 & 29 September
What our customers say:
"I couldn't ask for a better group with so many amazing warm-hearted people. Thank you so much for making this adventure so magical. The goodbyes are only hard because it was such a great time!"
- Tim, June 2020
"This trip was the happiest days of my 6 months in New Zealand. Thank you for adding so much joy to this journey!"
- Monica, June 2020
"I'd say that the last few weeks were the best time for me in New Zealand and probably the best time of my life as well. This trip was incredibly awesome!"
- Mischa, June 2020
What we're all about...
We're locals who support locals. We're not about mass-produced tourism.
We're all about finding one-of-a-kind experiences and supporting small communities.
We spearheaded the 'off the beaten track' movement in New Zealand.
Stray are the original experts in seeking out secluded destinations, taking our travellers off the grid since 2002.
Our Stray Guides are next level and will, no doubt, play a starring role in your travel stories.
Read our reviews and you'll see what we mean!
Travel is about creating lasting connections and sharing experiences.
Stray travellers are open-minded adventurers who make the most of every moment.
We aim to leave New Zealand better than we found it, protecting our environment for future generations.
Travel with us and together we can make a positive change.
We depart Picton around midday from Picton Villa, before setting off through the picturesque Marlborough region where we'll stop to sample what the region is most famous for: Sauvignon Blanc wine! Then it's onwards to Marahau, situated right on the edge of the spectacular Abel Tasman National Park.
Count yourself lucky - you have a full day to explore New Zealand’s most popular national park. From our accommodation you can hike straight into the park (no water taxi required!). It’s a cool 12kms to Anchorage and you’ll see the park’s natural golden sand beaches and brilliant blue waters along the way. The walk is approx. 4 hours each way but there’s enough photo stops en-route to spend an entire day exploring. Enjoy a picnic on the beach before checking out Cleopatra’s Pools, moss lined fresh water pools with a natural water slide.
Buckle up for an awesome day driving down the incredibly scenic ‘wild’ West Coast, an area known for its untamed beaches and spectacular rainforest. Through Buller Gorge and down a stretch of road named one of the top drives in the world by Lonely Planet, there’s not much cell phone reception but you are NOT gonna need it – we dare you to peel your eyes away from the window for even just a second. We’ll stop at the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and blow holes to explore this unique part of coastline before continuing on to the quaint township of Franz Josef, set amongst the rainforest.
Ice, ice baby! Get ready to experience the Franz Josef Glacier, an iconic highlight of the West Coast. Take a short drive to the beginning of the track. Hike through native bush and across glacial streams to the terminal face of the glacier for spectacular photos or just hang out at the Retreat and relax in one of NZ’s largest spa pools.
It’s another scenic journey today with plenty of photo stops – your Mum isn’t gonna be the only one who thinks your travel photos are world-class! First up is the amazing mirror-like Lake Matheson for a short walk. We travel inland through the mountainous Haast Pass and alongside beautiful Lake Hawea to arrive in Wanaka late-afternoon. It’s the perfect time to get your own photo of the famous Wanaka Tree set against a sunset backdrop. Dreamy!
Kick start your day with a brisk walk up Mt Iron or have a sleep in (we know they’re necessary sometimes!). Mid-morning we’ll make our way to Queenstown, known in New Zealand as the ‘Adventure Capital of the World’ and the spiritual home of bungy jumping. We stop at Kawarau Bridge on our way into town a.k.a. the first commercial bungy jumping site in the world. If you’re feeling brave you can tick the bungy off your bucket list or if you’d prefer to just watch then you can cheer your mates on from the viewing platform!
Depart Queenstown to drive over the Lindis Pass through the beautiful Mackenzie Country and past the vivid blue waters of Lake Pukaki. Our final destination of the day is Lake Tekapo. The Lake is a stunning electric blue and is framed by the Southern Alps. See the famous Church of the Good Shepherd, a quaint stone church right on the edge of the lake or hike up to the Mount John Observatory to see the incredible views.
This morning we’ll make our way to take in the stunning views of Aoraki Mount Cook. While you’re there you can hike the scenic Hooker Valley Track or head to the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre. This evening, why not head to the Tekapo Hot Springs - they're the perfect place to relax and soak up the scenery. If skies are clear tonight, be sure to head outside to experience one of the best stargazing spots in the country.
Our next stop is the Garden City of Christchurch, a city where old meets new, as the rebuild continues following the devastating 2011 earthquake. Spend your afternoon wandering the city streets and laneways to discover creative street art and hidden eateries. See how Christchurch earned its nickname as the Garden City by visiting the Botanic Gardens. Take a walk down Hereford St to see the ‘Cardboard’ Cathedral and the earthquake memorial of 185 White Chairs.
Wakey wakey! We’ve got an early morning start for a beautiful drive up the coast to Kaikoura. Arriving in Kaikoura around midday, you will have the afternoon free to explore. See the Kekeno (NZ fur seal) colony near Goose Bay and hike around the peninsula to check out the breathtaking views from the lookout. You’re likely to see sea birds, seals and maybe even whales or dolphins if you’re lucky!
This morning we’ll hop on the bus and wind our way up the coastal roads towards the top of the South Island back to Picton where your trip comes to an end. We hope you had an incredible adventure!
You'll stay in high-quality backpacker accommodation in a variety of hostels, wilderness lodges and cabins. Standard accommodation is priced for Dorm Style (4-10 beds), upgrades may be available on request. If you purchase an upgrade, it’s for everywhere except Hahei (please note: upgrades are not offered in Hahei).
You can choose to upgrade your accommodation to a single or twin/double private room (subject to availability).
- Single Room: +$800
- Double/Twin Room: +$400 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.
Health and Safety
COVID-19 Safety Measures
To minimise risk to our travellers, staff and operators we will be doing everything we can to reduce the risk of transmission and we will be playing it safe.
- Handrails and surfaces inside the bus will be wiped down daily
- Disinfectant will be used on the air conditioning filters in the bus daily
- Hand sanitizer will be available on the bus
If you would like a copy of our full WorkSafe COVID-19 Safety Plan, please email [email protected]