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 overnight in Doubtful Sound, jet boating around Mt Aspiring National Park and stargazing in Mount Cook…. Just to name a few!
"The 2-week journey was a perfect way to see most of New Zealand's beautiful south island. We drove more than 5000km through breathtaking scenery. Travelling in a small group allowed us to get off the beaten track a couple of times. It is hassle-free with the pre-booked accommodations, lots of great activities are included and discounts apply to other activities you can book in addition (but there is never any pressure to do so). My personal highlight was the Doubtful Sound Overnight cruise, which was absolutely stunning. As most travellers on the journey, I travelled by myself. I met great people in all age groups from all over the world and truly enjoyed it."
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, cabins and an overnight cruise.
11 breakfasts and 6 dinners.
Top rated activities
From hiking in New Zealand's most popular National Park to staying overnight in the Doubtful Sound, there are so many awesome activity included:
- Wine tasting at a vineyard cellar door in Marlborough
- 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!
Due to COVID-19 all Stray trips are suspended until 1 November 2020. Please check our Service Updates page for more information.
Summer Departures: November 2020 - May 2021
Departs from: Christchurch
Time: 8:30am from All Stars Inn / 9am from Christchurch International Airport
You can select your preferred departure date at check out.
- Download itinerary: Mackinnon Summer 20-21 (PDF)
Nau mai, haere mai (welcome)! Your journey kicks off in Christchurch, where the morning's activity is determined by the weather and what the group wishes to do. The options are to spend the morning taking in the city sights and walking through the Garden City's renowned Botanic Gardens or drive out to the Banks Peninsula to discover the delights of Akaroa, New Zealand's only historic French settlement. Next, we head to the peaceful alpine town of Hanmer Springs, where you can spend the evening surrounded by mountains and forest as you relax in the thermal hot pools. Tonight is a group dinner. Includes dinner
We start today with an invigorating walk up Conical Hill for the best views in Hanmer Springs. Then, we’ll make our way east to the coastal village of Kaikoura, famous for a huge array of natural wonders from land to sea. We arrive in Kaikoura with plenty of free time to experience all this location has to offer. Why not go out on the water on one of Kaikoura’s 7 Valid: October 2020 – April 2021 famous dolphin and whale spotting tours (own expense), see seals sitting right beside the road at Goose Bay or wander around the peninsula and check out the breathtaking views from the lookout. Includes breakfast
Today we’ll travel north on a scenic drive along rugged coastal roads to the seaside port town of Picton. You have the rest of the day free to go for a walk to get your bearings in this charming town, stroll along the waterfront or relax in the spa pool at your accommodation.
Spend the morning soaking up the views of the stunning Marlborough Sounds by foot or bicycle on one of the nearby tracks. You’ll meet your group at midday to drive 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 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 selfcater 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 mighty 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
Fiordland National Park is one of New Zealand’s most beautiful locations, with stunning ice-carved fiords, valleys, lakes and mountain scenery; and it is our first port of call today. Within Fiordland we visit Doubtful Sound, the deepest of all the fiords, surrounded by towering peaks and huge waterfalls. We will board a purpose-built boat and enjoy complimentary afternoon tea while cruising past fur seals, penguins and dolphins. There are also sea kayaks available to explore the fiord. Includes breakfast and dinner
We depart Doubtful Sound around midday, leaving behind 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, Shotover River 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: +$859
- Double/Twin Room: +$489 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 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.
Need to Know
Due to COVID-19 all Stray trips are suspended until 1 November 2020. A new timetable will be available 1 August 2020. Please check our Service Updates page for more information.
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 Saturday from Christchurch between October and April
Pick up locations and times:
All Stars Inn Hostel - Reception 8:30am
Christchurch International Airport - 9:00am