Hike some of New Zealand's best tracks, kayak at sunrise, taste a delicious traditional hangi meal, bathe in a hot thermal stream surrounded by native bush, explore national parks, party in Queenstown and stargaze in an International Dark Sky Reserve.
✔️ All 2023 Ruru Tour departures are GUARANTEED!
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✔️ Money-back guarantee: full refund if the tour doesn't go ahead.
✔️ Flexibility: no fee to make changes.
Scroll through to see what you'll get up to or watch the video
High-quality twin share rooms are included. You'll stay in comfy 3-4 star hotels for most of nights and high country farm or scenic lodges close to waterfront or national park in our unique destinations. Hotel rooms are with ensuite, while shared facilities are in Strademark places.
During the journey, you will experience the fantastic NZ by joining activities in both islands.
- Visit the geothermal magic, Geyser by Night, in the dark within Te Puia
- Lake Aniwhenua Cultural Experience
- Cycle the Old Coach Road Heritage Trail for incredible scenery and NZ history
- Jump on the high country 4WD Eco Safari in remote Blue Duck Station
- Cross the Cook Strait with the BlueBridge Ferry and enjoy the amazing views of the Marlborough Sounds
- Immerse yourself in NZ 'Must Do' - Milford Sound Day Trip including scenic road trip and cruise in Fiordland National Park
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!
A mixture of cooked and continental breakfasts are included for every morning of your tour. We've also included other meals here and there, be sure to check your itinerary for details.
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.
We are fun and multi-cultural small group tours with a maximum of 24 passengers plus a driver guide per bus. Most travellers on our Journey Tours are aged between 20-50 although we have no maximum age because we believe age doesn't matter - it's all about attitude!
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!
2023 - ALL GUARANTEED!
- 7 September (fully booked)
- 21 September (fully booked)
- 5 & 19 October
- 2, 16 & 30 November
- 11 & 25 January
- 8 & 22 February
- 7 & 21 March
- 4 April
What our customers say:
"I loved the trip so much that I did it twice. The Morepork (now Ruru) takes you around most of New Zealand. You meet the most awesome people and has the best guide on the planet. I would even go on a third trip!"
- Christina, December 2020 & April 2021
"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!"
- Jacob, June 2021
"This trip was the happiest 24 days of my 6 months in New Zealand. Thank you for adding so much joy to this journey!"
- Monica, March 2022
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.
Auckland to Christchurch: Ruru Tour
Auckland Departure Info
7:30AM, 31 Wellesley Street West, Auckland CBD (outside Attic Backpackers)
*Subject to change. Please be ready at the pickup 15 minutes prior to the departure.
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Kia Ora (hello) and welcome to your New Zealand adventure. Our tour begins in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland), the largest city in New Zealand and home to over 2 million people and around 50 volcanoes.
We’ll head out bright and early this morning and travel down to Rotorua, the North Island’s geothermal hotspot and probably second only to Queenstown in terms of its adventure activity offerings. Fondly known as ‘Roto-vegas’ due the high volume of tourists it receives, Rotorua is a hive of activity and culture.
We’ll stop at the Whakarewarewa Forest for a walk through the giant California Redwoods which were planted over 100 years ago before checking in at our hotel, the Distinction Rotorua. Centrally located and home to a spa, swimming pool and unlimited Wi-Fi (not the norm here in New Zealand) it’s a great base to explore from.
Today we have a free day in Rotorua. Have breakfast at the hotel and then head off to an activity of your choice. Go white water rafting down the Kaituna River, zipline through the trees on an eco-tour, zorb through rolling hills or just relax at a geothermal spa. If you’d like to see some geothermal activity for free, head to Kuirau Park to see boiling mud pools and steaming lakes. This evening, you’ll be taken to Te Puia for a night of dramatic geysers, bubbling mud and beautiful native bush. You’ll begin with a guided geothermal walk under the stars by torchlight before eating a traditional kanga waru (GF) pudding cooked in a natural hot spring. Sit under the night skies with a steaming cup of hot chocolate and hear the stories of the past, feeling the beauty of Pohutu in an interactive journey guided by light.
After a couple of days in a major tourist destination like Rotorua, you’ll probably want some time to recharge the batteries and experience a more authentic slice of New Zealand culture. After breakfast, we’ll venture ‘off the beaten track’ to the shores of Lake Aniwhenua and the incredible Kohutapu Lodge. Owned by a local Maori family who are passionate about showcasing their Maori tribal heritage, the lodge is a pillar of the local community.
We’ll be taken to see sacred Maori rock carvings, play a traditional game of Mau Rakau and watch the preparation of a ground cooked 'hangi'. We’ll enjoy an afternoon tea of freshly made fried bread as we speak with the team at Kohutapu Lodge and practise our weaving and haka skills. In the evening, we’ll sit down to enjoy our lovingly prepared hangi feast - this will probably be the best meal you’ll eat in New Zealand, or dare we say, your lifetime.
Exclusive experience includes:
- Welcome to the tribal lands and a guided tour to waterfall and sacred Maori rock carvings
- Introduction to the Murupara area, its people, history, and challenges
- Afternoon tea
- Mau Rakau (Maori stick games)
- Weaving Lesson
- Haka Lesson
- 1-night accommodation at the lakeside Kohutapu Lodge
- Full traditional hangi buffet dinner & dessert
- Storytelling around the fire pit
- Continental breakfast
We’ll tuck into our buffet breakfast and say goodbye to our wonderful hosts at the lakeside lodge before we depart this morning to Kerosene Creek – a naturally hot river and the perfect place for a morning soak. Afterwards we’ll drive on to Taupo to see Australasia’s largest lake and the frothy Huka Falls before heading inland to Blue Duck Station for an immersive and off the grid experience. Blue Duck Station is a 7,200-acre high country farm and is the most sustainable high-country sheep and cattle station in New Zealand, the team have made it their mission to protect their native environment for its namesake, the rare blue duck. On arrival, we’ll 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 relaxing around the bonfire.
Good news - we have a full free day to explore the station, a ruggedly charming destination that’s as far as we can get from the ocean by road. Options for entertainment today are horseback riding over rolling green hills or a 4WD eco tour through native bush to the ‘Top of the World’ where we can see the three peaks of Mount Ruapehu, Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe. To explore on foot, hike to the Kaiwhakauka waterfall and try to spot a rare blue duck in the flesh. So much to do and a whole day in which to do it - today is about our love affair with this lush kiwi paradise, ah those holiday romances.
This morning we’re up nice and early to head straight to Tongariro National Park where we’ll 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 19 km hike takes us across a rocky plateau with dramatic volcanic peaks, craters, and turquoise lakes that we (and our 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 us from doing the Crossing, there are other awesome short walks in the area. Tonight, we’ll unwind after a big day at our accommodation, the Powderhorn Chateau. Styled like a log cabin, this boutique accommodation is so cosy and even has an indoor heated pool where we can rest our weary bones after our big walk - after all, we’re on holiday aren’t we?
This morning after breakfast we’re going for a scenic bike ride along the Old Coach Road, an easy but epic 4-hour unguided bike trail. We’ll cycle on a unique cobbled road, past historic Viaducts and limestone cliffs and there’ll be plenty of stops along the way to take photos for the ‘gram. This is a great way to spend a morning learning about New Zealand history and seeing some pretty spectacular views as we go.
Afterwards, we’re heading down to Wellington, the ‘coolest little capital in the world’! Wellington packs a lot of character into its downtown district, with interesting restaurants and bars along Cuba Street and Courtenay Place. We’ll have an afternoon to browse through the exhibits at Te Papa National Museum, grab a craft beer at a 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, we are happy to say that Wellington’s coffee culture and cafe scene is considered one of (if not THE) best in New Zealand.
We’ll catch an early Bluebridge Ferry across the Cook Strait to the South Island today. If the weather’s good, we’ll be out on the viewing deck where we’ll get some incredible views of the Marlborough Sounds before arriving in Picton and setting off through the picturesque Marlborough region. We’ll continue through to Marahau, situated right on the edge of the spectacular Abel Tasman National Park where we’ll spend our evening relaxing around the campfire and looking at the stars.
Today is a full free day to explore New Zealand’s most popular national park. From our accommodation we can hike straight into the park (no water taxi required) and then it’s a cool 12 kms to Anchorage. The walk is absolutely beautiful with the park’s natural golden sand beaches and brilliant blue waters visible throughout. The walk is approx. 4 hours each way but there’s enough photo stops en-route to spend an entire day exploring, checking out Cleopatra’s Pools (yes there’s a natural water slide there), enjoying a picnic on the beach, relaxing in the sunshine - the world is our oyster.
We’re buckling up for an awesome day driving down the incredibly scenic ‘wild’ West Coast, an area known for its untamed beaches and masses of lush 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 we’re not going to need it. This road offers views for days and we won't want to stop looking out the window for a second. We’ll stop at the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and blowholes to explore this unique part of coastline before continuing on to the vibrant, artistic township of Hokitika. Our accommodation tonight is absolute beachfront, located on the shores of the Tasman Sea. Treat yourself to some dinner in their Ocean View restaurant or go for a walk and explore Hokitika.
It’s a short drive today towards the charming little village of Franz Josef. The landscape will change from coastline to dramatic, lush rainforest so basically another day of incredible views and stunning scenery (have your phone charged for pics). We’ll get to Franz Josef around lunchtime, and we’ll have the rest of the day to explore the town or relax at our accommodation.
Ice, ice baby! Today is about experiencing Franz Josef Glacier, an iconic highlight of the West Coast and New Zealand in general. We can get a shuttle to the beginning of the track and then hike through native bush and across glacial streams to the terminal face of the glacier for spectacular photos or just relax in the township and enjoy the views. If you’d like to see the glacier up close (before that pesky climate change melts it for good) you can go for an incredible heli-hike and actually stand on the glacier!
This morning we’ll go for a scenic walk around Lake Matheson, known for its stunning views and mirror-like quality on particularly still days, and then 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, Queenstown is a crazy combination of adventure and entertainment. We’ll stop at Kawarau Bridge on our way into town a.k.a. the first commercial bungy jumping site in the world and watch people jumping off with only a rope tied to their ankles. We highly recommend ticking this off your list if you’re feeling brave but otherwise, we’ll just cheer on our mates from the viewing platform! When we get to Queenstown we’ll head straight to our accommodation. Stay at the Mercure Resort will provide a touch of luxury to your Queenstown adventure, with a swimming pool, fitness centre and sauna, it’s the best way to relax and ease yourself into life in this truly stunning resort town.
Today we’ll hop aboard a Coach which will take us to the iconic Milford Sound. We’ll drive along one of the most scenic alpine roads in the world and then cruise across the Sound (fun fact: it's not actually a sound, it’s a fjord!) to see towering Mitre Peak plus rainforests and waterfalls, as well as spotting some amazing wildlife like Fur Seals, Penguins and Dolphins. Once we’ve snapped as many pics as we possibly can, it’s back to Queenstown. This evening, we recommend checking out the buzzy nightlife and sampling a famous Fergburger or just checking out one of the many restaurants Queenstown has to offer.
Yaaaasssss Queen(stown)! We’ve got a full day in the adventure capital today. With beautiful mountain scenery and plenty of outdoor activities, it’s easy to understand why so many backpackers refuse to leave this place. We’ll have brekkie at the hotel and then the rest of the day is freeeee.
We’ll depart Queenstown early to drive over the Lindis Pass and through the Mackenzie Country, past the vivid blue waters of Lake Pukaki on the way to our amazing stop at the base of New Zealand’s highest mountain, Aoraki/Mt Cook. We’ve made this drive sound great but honestly - we reckon it’s one of the most stunning days you’ll have in the whole of NZ.
We arrive in the early afternoon with time to do an optional experience like a boat tour on a glacial lake surrounded by snow-capped alps (sounds epic? It is.) Alternatively, we can check out the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre or do one of the many great short walks in the park. We would be remiss if we didn’t recommend the Hooker Valley track (weather dependent) which in our opinion is in the top 3-day walks in NZ. If it’s a clear night, head outside to experience one of the best stargazing spots in the country.
Leaving Mount Cook we make our way through a landscape made famous by the ‘Lord of the Rings’ films. We’ll stop to check out the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo and the Church of the Good Shepherd (an iconic photo stop) and if you like you can go and relax in the Tekapo hot pools, do some snow tubing or ice skating (winter only) or hike up to the Mt John Observatory for incredible views of the lake from above. After lunch, we’ll continue to our overnight stop in Christchurch where we’ll spend the afternoon wandering the city streets and laneways to discover creative street art intended to bring cheer and colour to a city once buried in rubble.
Today our adventure comes to an end, we’ll say goodbye (or see you soon) to our mates and go our separate ways for now. We hope everyone had a blast and remains Stray Mates for 4ever!
Auckland to Christchurch: Ruru Tour
You'll stay in comfy 3-4 star hotels for most of nights and high country farm or scenic lodges close to waterfront or national park in our unique destinations. Hotel rooms are with ensuite, while shared facilities are in Strademark places. Upgrade to solo occupancy may be possible and subject to availability.
You can choose to upgrade your accommodation to a solo occupied private room (subject to availability).
- Single Room: +$2000
To request an accommodation upgrade, please choose Solo Traveller - Private Room from the drop-down menu, before you click BOOK YOUR TRAVEL button. Please email us to check availability before your booking: [email protected]
- At some destinations, such as Lake Aniwhenua, Blue Duck Station or Marahau (Abel Tasman National Park), your private rooms may not have an ensuite, but shared bathroom or kitchen facilities.
- We cannot guarantee a room upgrade within 31 days of each departure. All requests will be subject to availability. If you wish to upgrade rooms after your trip starts, please ask the accommodation at check in. You can be upgraded based on the availability and pay for the difference directly with the accommodation.
Pre or Post Accommodation
We recommend high quality pre or post accommodations if you need. Most of them are easy to get your Stray pickups by foot. Check out more information from the FAQs (Accommodation Tab) or contact our Reservations Team directly for a quote if you want to book with us.