24 Day Tour - Departs Auckland 2 June 2020
We’ve all been hit pretty hard by COVID-19. For the last 6 weeks ‘travelling’ became making the trek from your bedroom to the kitchen, your 'bucket list' was converted to that essential grocery list and 'wanderlust' was just wander-ing around the local neighbourhood for the 100th time.
Things were starting to seem a little bleak for those of us chasing adventure but then came the announcement that we’ll be able to travel domestically again and we could not be more excited to get back on the road!
If you're already here in New Zealand and itching to explore, join us for the adventure of a lifetime on the Haere Mai Tour.
It’s time to make some new memories. 2020 can STILL be your year!
We'll be making sure we are doing it safely of course, and thoroughly complying with government regulations (check out the Need to Know tab for more info).
What better way to support tourism in New Zealand right now, than to jump on a trip around New Zealand and get support to the areas that need it most.
How to Book
If you are keen to join this trip, just click the link below! If you have any questions about your booking, please contact: [email protected].
Keen to jump on for the South Island only?
If you want to meet us in Picton and hop on for two amazing weeks in the South Island, we'll be departing Picton for Abel Tasman on 11 June. Email Ally [email protected]
Scroll through to see what you'll get up to...
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!
This experience is an introduction to modern day Maori culture. You’ll be hosted by a local Maori family, taken on a guided tour to a sacred archaeological site, be introduced to the local Maori stories and games and be treated to a delicious hangi dinner, cooked under the ground!
You'll travel on the Bluebridge ferry twice between North and South islands.
Your return ticket is included in the cost of your tour.
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.
Haere Mai Tour
This pass starts and finishes in Auckland.
Departs: Tuesday 2 June - Thursday 25 June 2020
Please Note: Some Activities may not be operating during this time. Take a look at our updated Haere Mai Optional Activities List for more information.
Today’s the day we say ‘haere rā’ to Auckland and ‘kia ora!’ to the trip of a lifetime! First stop, Hahei Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula. This gorgeous little place will capture your heart (and have you calculating how much it would cost to move to NZ’s coast eternally). When the tides are right, we’ll drive over to the nearby Hot Water Beach and dig ourselves an all-natural hot pool in the sand. Who said backpackers can’t do luxury?
If you don’t believe in magic yet you miiiight just change your mind after watching a sun rise on Hahei Beach. It’s worth the 7am alarm – trust us – but don’t even think about going back to bed afterwards. Instead, grab a coffee, pack a picnic and ‘carpe diem’ by hiking to the hidden paradise we like to call Cathedral Cove. Walk to the north end of Hahei Beach, up the coastal track and along the cliffs to discover heaps of cool little coves and bays!
It’s just a short trip to Rotorua and, let’s just say, the ‘unusual’ sulphur smell will be a telltale sign that you’ve arrived! Known as the North Island’s geothermal hot spot and hub for all the very best adventure activities, Rotorua is 100% one of the best places to explore… even if your nostrils tell you otherwise! We’ll stop at the Whakarewarewa Forest for a walk amongst the giant California Redwoods planted over 100 years ago before checking in at our hostel. If you want to see some geothermal activity for free, head across the road to Kuirau Park to see boiling mud pools and steaming lakes.
There’s so much to see and do around Rotorua, the hard part will be deciding what to do with your free day. You could hire a mountain bike, go ziplining through native bush, try zorbing, go whitewater rafting or hop on the gondola and race your mates down a mountain on a luge. If you’re looking to relax instead, have no fear! Visit the thermal pools, sample all the food on Eat Street or explore the lake front area and the Government Gardens.
After hanging out in a major tourist destination like Rotorua, you’ll probably feel ready to experience a more authentic slice of New Zealand culture. Today we venture off the beaten track to the shores of Lake Aniwhenua. Kohutapu Lodge is owned by a local Maori family who are passionate about showcasing their Maori tribal heritage. You'll see sacred Maori rock carvings, play traditional stick games and watch the preparation of a ground cooked 'hangi', before tasting it for yourself! Prepare your tastebuds - this will probably be the best meal you eat in New Zealand, or maybe even in your lifetime!
Exclusive experience includes:
- 1 night’s accommodation at the serene lakeside Kohutapu Lodge
- Full traditional hangi buffet dinner & dessert
- Continental breakfast
- Guided tour to sacred Maori rock carvings
- Introduction to the Murupara area, its people, history and challenges
- Participation in a local school program designed to inspire the next generation. School visit may not be available. If we can’t visit the school we will go to Kerosene Creek (natural thermal pools) instead.
Rise and shine, strayers! Enjoy your buffet breakfast and get ready for a day of jam-packed adventure. Keep your togs (swimwear) handy, because our first stop is Kerosene Creek – a naturally hot river and the perfect place for a morning soak. Then it’s on to Taupo to see Australasia’s largest lake and the mighty Huka Falls before venturing about as far off the beaten track as you can get in the North Island! Blue Duck Station is a sprawling 7,200-acre high country farm that is both a working station and an eco-conservation pioneer dedicated to protecting the native environment for its namesake, the rare blue duck. On arrival, we will settle in to learn a little about daily life at Blue Duck, the station’s interesting settlement history and their sustainability efforts before cooking some dinner and chilling out around the bonfire.
Good news - You have a full free day to explore this ruggedly charming destination. For entertainment, you have the option to go horseback riding over rolling green hills, or jump on a 4WD and travel through native bush to the ‘Top of the World’ where you can see the three peaks of Mount Ruapehu, Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe. If you’d prefer to explore on foot, hike to the Kaiwhakauka waterfall and see if you can spot a rare blue duck in the flesh. Whatever you decide, we have no doubt this will be the start of your love affair with this lush kiwi paradise. Those holiday romances, aye!
Limber up! Today you get the chance to tick off one of the most popular hikes in New Zealand, the epic Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Considered one of the world’s top one-day walks, this 19km hike takes you across a rocky plateau with dramatic volcanic peaks, craters and turquoise lakes that you (and your Instagram feed) will remember for a lifetime. The Crossing is open to walk year-round (alpine gear and guide are required in winter), but it is subject to the weather conditions. If the weather prevents you from doing the Crossing, there are other awesome short-walks in the area. Tonight, unwind after a big day in a cosy historic lodge in Raetihi – complete with a pamper room, spa bath and mountain views.
Onwards to Wellington, the ‘coolest little capital in the world’! Wellington packs a lot of character into its downtown district, with funky restaurants and bars along Cuba Street and Courtenay Place. Fill your afternoon by browsing through the exhibits at Te Papa National Museum, grab a craft beer at an edgy brewery, climb to the top of Mt Victoria for panoramic views or take a stroll along the waterfront and Oriental Parade. Oh and, most importantly for those who seek 24/7 caffeination, you’ll be glad to know that Wellington’s coffee culture and cafe scene is considered one of the best in NZ.
We catch an early Bluebridge Ferry across the Cook Strait and through the magnificent Marlborough Sounds to the South Island. If the weather’s good, head out to the viewing deck to witness some incredible scenes. From here we’ll travel through the picturesque Marlborough region and make a stop at a local vineyard to sample the region’s specialty Sauvignon Blanc before heading to Marahau, 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 Cape Foulwind and 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!
Today we let our adrenaline levels return to normal as we head over the Lindis Pass through the Mackenzie region and past Lake Pukaki before arriving into our overnight destination: Lake Tekapo. We arrive in the early afternoon with enough time to do the Mount John Observatory walk and witness incredible views of this electric blue lake and the Southern alps. Or if you'd rather just have a ‘self-care’ afternoon, then the Tekapo Hot Springs are the perfect place to relax and soak up the scenery. Tonight, if skies are clear, head outside to experience one of the best stargazing spots in the country.
Leaving Tekapo at lunchtime, we will continue to our overnight stop in Christchurch, an underrated 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.
Start your day with a freshly roasted coffee and an artisanal pastry from the Riverside Market then take yourself on a walking tour of Christchurch. Visit the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and see how Christchurch earned its nickname as the Garden City. Visit Canterbury Museum to learn about the past, present and future of the region. Walk down Hereford St to see the ‘Cardboard’ Cathedral then to the memorial of 185 White Chairs. Wrap up your tour by treating yourself to a burger at Smash Palace (an inner-city icon) – you deserve it after a big day of exploring!
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. We will catch the afternoon Bluebridge Ferry across the Cook Strait. The evening in Wellington is free for a second chance to explore this funky town’s nightlife at any of the bars and restaurants along Cuba Street. It’s your last night guys – go wild! Alternatively, it’s a good time to craft your master plan on how to stay in New Zealand forever. Either or.
All good things must come to an end. After an incredible few weeks of exploring New Zealand it’s officially time to head back to the ‘City of Sails’. If you had any luck creating that master plan, now would be a good time to implement it – otherwise, today is an express day from Wellington to Auckland, so soak up the last few moments with your new Stray family. We hope you had a blast!
Haere Mai Tour
Need to Know
COVID-19 Health and safety measures
We will ensure that we adhere strictly to government guidelines for tourism operators to minimise risk to our travellers, staff and operators.
What this will mean:
- We will be doing everything we can to reduce the risk of transmission and we will be playing it safe.
- Travellers will be required to sign a declaration of health prior to beginning the tour
- 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]