This tour operates in our off-peak season between 23 April - 15th October 2020
View the Mackinnon Summer tour (departing 26 Oct 2019 - 26 April 020)
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!
"The concept of Stray is really good for solo travelling! I was quite apprehensive about doing something alone, but found that this was a perfect mix of solo travellers and small friend groups. I felt too old to be doing Kiwi Experience and found the age range to be 24-31 with a few 35+ on the trip. Our group formed a really tight bond and we did almost all the activities together and no one was left alone. The driver was super organised and really engaging on the trip and she really ensured we got everywhere on time and equipped with information."
You'll travel in our comfortable mid-sized coaches around the South Island.
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.
13 nights’ accommodation in a variety of quality hostels, wilderness lodges and cabins.
Top rated activities
- Marahau/Abel Tasman: Aqua Taxi
- Wanaka: Scenic bike ride around the lake
- Queenstown: Jet boat ride
- Queenstown: Day trip to Doubtful Sound
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!
Winter departures: 23 April - 15 October 2020
Departs from: Christchurch
You can select your departure date and check availability at checkout.
Haere mai (welcome)! Your adventure begins when we depart from the Christchurch International Airport this morning and enjoy a beautiful drive up the coast to seaside Kaikoura. You have the afternoon free for activities to check out the amazing marine wildlife that call this area home. Go on a whale and dolphin spotting tour, search for seals sunning themselves at Goose Bay or walk to the peninsula lookout for breathtaking views.
Leaving Kaikoura this morning, we wind our way up the rugged coastal roads for the top of the South Island. We arrive into Picton around midday so you have plenty of time to explore this charming port town – go for a walk to take in the stunning views of the Marlborough Sounds or kick back and relax in the spa at your accommodation.
Enjoy a free morning to relax and explore Picton. There’s time for you to take advantage of the free fishing gear and bikes on offer from the accommodation. You will meet your group at midday and we will cruise through the famous Marlborough vineyard area and the coastal town of Nelson on the way to our amazing overnight stop of Marahau, right on the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park.
You have the entire day free to explore this stunning coastal national park renowned for its golden sand beaches. An Aqua Taxi ride is included in your tour, but you are welcome to upgrade to sailing or kayaking. Hike, sail, kayak or skydive – Abel Tasman National Park is gorgeous no matter which option you choose.
Buckle up for an awesome day driving down the incredibly scenic ‘wild’ West Coast, an area known for its untamed beaches and spectacular rain forest. We’ll pass through Buller Gorge and down a stretch of road that was labelled one of the top ten drives in the world by Lonely Planet. We’ll stop on our way down the coast to take a walk around the unique limestone rock formations known as the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and their fantastic blowholes. Our next stop is the historic gold mining town of Greymouth to collect passengers connecting from Christchurch. From here we’ll continue on via Hokitika, to the quaint township of Franz Josef, home to the famous Franz Josef Glacier.
Enjoy a full free day to explore the glacier. Live your glacier walking dream with a guided tour through a world of ice on the glacier or hike from town to view it from below, then unwind in the relaxing spa pools afterwards.
Depart early to take a walk along the shores of the amazing mirror-like Lake Matheson, and then travel through the mountainous Haast Pass and Makarora with plenty of photo stops along the way. We pass by the beautiful Lake Hawea on our way to arrive in Wanaka by late afternoon
This morning, head out to cycle some of New Zealand’s most beautiful bike paths along the lake before we depart Wanaka and cruise down to the famous original A.J. Hackett bungy site, where you can take the plunge - if you dare! Then, it’s on to the ‘Adventure Capital of the World!’ Queenstown offers an optional big (make that huge) night out with a variety of excellent restaurants, pubs and live music.
With so much to see and do in and around Queenstown, you need three full days to take it all in! To get you started, a couple highlight activities are included in your package.
Day 1: You'll take an exhilarating jet boat ride amongst spectacular scenery in the morning and then have the afternoon free for more Queenstown fun.
Day 2: Depart early on a day long trip to the jaw dropping Doubtful Sound in stunning Fiordland National Park, where you'll take a three hour wilderness cruise and learn more about this incredible natural wonder. You will return to Queenstown in the evening. Lunch is not included (you can purchase sandwiches and snacks on the day), so make sure you bring lunch, snacks and water.
Day 3: Make the most of your final free day doing any of the other incredible activities on offer or further exploring Queenstown. If you haven’t already, we recommend riding the gondola or walking to the top of the hill for spectacular views of the town, lake and surrounding mountains.
Depart Queenstown early to drive over the Lindis Pass through the beautiful Mackenzie Country and past the vivid blue waters of Lake Pukaki. Then, we head north to our amazing overnight stop at the base of New Zealand’s highest mountain Aoraki/Mt Cook, arriving in the early afternoon.
Leaving Mt Cook, we make our way through a landscape made famous in the Lord of the Rings films. We’ll stop to admire the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo and the Church of the Good Shepherd – a famous photo stop. Relax in the Tekapo hot pools, go snow tubing or ice skating or hike up to the Mt John observatory where you’ll witness stunning views of the lake from above. After lunch, we will continue to our overnight stop in Peel Forest. Tonight, we’ll stay in one of Canterbury’s original sheep stations.
This morning, you will have the opportunity to sign up to explore the stunning Peel Forest scenery on horseback. Next, we head for Christchurch where you can spend the afternoon wandering the city streets and laneways to discover creative street art intended to bring cheer and colour to a city still rebuilding from the devastating 2011 earthquake.
We've chosen high quality backpacker accommodation in a variety of hostels, wilderness lodges and cabins. Dorm-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: +$800
- Double/Twin Room: +$410 per person
To request an accommodation upgrade for your whole tour please email us ([email protected]) to book.
Or you can choose to upgrade as you go and pay the difference directly to the operator when you arrive (subject to availability).
- 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.
Need to Know
Stray Journeys are 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!
During the off-peak season (May to September) Stray Journeys tours are operated on the Freestyle Travel route. This means that some passengers on your trip who are travelling on flexible passes will be hopping on and off the bus but you will stick with the bus for the duration of your tour.
Some key details...
- Group Size: Small Group (Avg 15, Max 45)
- Physical Rating: Average - our tours include light hiking
- Transport: Travel by private, air-conditioned bus (20-45 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 dorm-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 not included so you have the flexibility to choose your own.
- 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 Thursday between May and September from Christchurch:
- All Stars Inn on Bealey 7:30am
- Christchurch International Airport 8:00am
Travelling in Summer from October - April
Between October and April, a variation of this tour is available: Mackinnon Tour
This tour follows a different itinerary to suit the season.