This tour operates in our off-peak season between 2 May and 26 September 2020
View the Sheppard Summer tour (departing 6 Oct 2019 - 26 April 2020)
On this tour, you'll see all the key parts of the country that make New Zealand world famous; from the massive sand dunes in the far north, to Queenstown which has become the Adventure Capital of the World and all of the beautiful landscapes in between!
"Stray is a fantastic company to travel with. It is completely hassle free and the drivers are really helpful. Perfect for lone travellers who still want to do their own thing but enjoy the company of like minded people. Stray stay at some fantastic accomodation which is well off the backpacker track."
You'll travel in our comfortable mid-sized coaches around New Zealand and your inter-island ferry transport is included too.
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.
23 nights’ accommodation in a variety of quality hostels, wilderness lodges and cabins.
Top rated activities
From wildlife cruises to scenic lakeside bike rides, there are so many awesome activity included:
- Paihia: day trip to Cape Reinga
- Paihia: Hole in the Rock marine cruise
- Lake Aniwhenua: Kohutapu experience – guided tour of sacred Maori rock carvings, introduction to the Murupara area, Hangi and Maori bread cooking demonstration, delicious ground cooked hangi feast, dessert and continental breakfast.
- Whakahoro: Eco-Warrior 4WD farm tour
- 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: 2 May - 26 September 2020
Departs from: Auckland
Haere mai (welcome)! Your Stray adventure kicks off in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland. We depart northbound for the relaxed seaside town of Paihia, gateway to the beautiful Bay of Islands. On the way you’ll learn about the rich early European and Maori history of the region. After stopping to see giant kauri trees en-route, we continue on to Paihia. This afternoon you will do the famous ‘Hole in the Rock’ cruise and make an island stop in the bay. Keep a watchful eye out for playful dolphins and other marine life!
Today you travel to the northernmost point of the country, the spiritually significant Cape Reinga. Highlights of this day trip include a visit to 90 Mile Beach, dune surfing and seeing the clashing of two oceans! You have the option to sample some of the best fish and chips available on your way back to Paihia (own expense). Make sure you pack a lunch, snacks and enough water to fuel you through the day.
This morning you are free to explore this charming seaside town. You could view the 144 islands of the Bay of Islands from above with an exhilarating skydive, visit the nearby Waitangi Treaty Grounds, hop on the ferry to wander around Russell across the bay or just relax on the beach. We depart in the afternoon to head back to Auckland, where you have the evening free in the city.
Today you have a full free day to embrace the laid back Coromandel lifestyle. Get up early to catch the sunrise on the beach, then take a scenic coastal walk or opt to kayak to stunning Cathedral Cove. Another option is to take a guided boat tour through the cliffs and caves of the nearby marine reserve.
We leave Hahei early travelling through to Paeroa, home of New Zealand’s oldest and largest soft drinks company – L&P, where we’ll stop for a fun photo op at a local landmark. Our drive today will take us through the Waikato region, known for its many dairy farms, rolling hills and the mighty Waikato River (the largest river in New Zealand). This afternoon you’ll have free time to explore the sights and smells of Rotorua.
Often labelled the adventure capital of the North Island, you have a full free day in Rotorua to discover a wealth of adventure activities and geothermal wonders. Go ziplining through native bush, zorbing or take a truly unique guided jet boat adventure to bathe in a hot waterfall. Looking to relax instead? Visit the hots pools and bubbling mud baths at one of Rotorua's geothermal parks or take in a Maori cultural performance. Film buffs may want to sign up for a guided tour through the world-famous Hobbiton Movie Set. The choice is yours!
There’s time to squeeze in one last Rotorua activity this morning before we head further off the beaten track to the remote area of Lake Aniwhenua for an exclusive cultural experience like no other. Your Maori host family will share with you their story and traditions, as well as their vision for making a difference in their remote community. You'll see sacred Maori rock art, play traditional stick games for hand-eye coordination and watch the preparation of a ground cooked 'hangi', before tasting it for yourself! (D)
Please note: The minimum number required to visit Lake Aniwhenua is 9 people. Groups that don’t meet minimum numbers will overnight in Taupo. Please contact Reservations if your group does not visit Lake Aniwhenua.
After breakfast we depart and head to Taupo, where the bravehearted can opt to plunge from a plane to skydive over Australasia’s largest lake! If you're not up for an adrenaline hit, walk the Huka Falls Walkway track, or spend time exploring this popular lakeside town. In the afternoon, we make our way to Blue Duck Station, an award-winning 7,200 acre high country farm that is both a working station and an environmental conservation leader. Settle in and spend the evening learning a little more about what makes this unique destination a top-rated stop. (B)
Today you have a free day to explore this truly amazing and secluded location in depth. The included 4WD farm tour will give you a tantalising taste of life in remote, rural New Zealand. There are plenty of other optional farming and conservation-based activities for you to experience around the property as well.
We depart at 6am and head to the active volcanoes of the nearby dual World Heritage Site of Tongariro National Park. Today you get a chance to do what is rated as one of the world’s best one day walks: the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Be prepared for some epic scenery as you walk across a rocky plateau with dramatic volcanic peaks, craters and turquoise lakes that you’ll remember for a lifetime. Tonight, you can soothe your tired muscles from the big walk in the spa pool at your accommodation or relax with a celebratory drink by the fire.
Today we head to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, via Ohakune, Taihape and Bulls. You have the afternoon to cruise around the shops and cafes along popular Cuba Street, discover the New Zealand wonders on display in Te Papa Museum or stroll along the waterfront.
We catch the early Bluebridge Ferry across the Cook Strait to the South Island where you meet the bus in Picton. We will cruise through the famous Marlborough vineyard area and the coastal town of Nelson on our 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 a Lord of the Rings tour or to explore the stunning Peel Forest scenery on horseback. We’ll arrive in Christchurch late afternoon, where your tour comes to an end - we hope you had a blast on your New Zealand journey!
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). Upgrades do not apply to Hahei accommodation (2 nights).
- Single Room: +$1375
- Double/Twin Room: +$660 per person
To request an accommodation upgrade for your whole tour please email us: [email protected]
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.
- The standard accommodation in Hahei is quad-share and upgrades are limited.
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 except for at Lake Aniwhenua (includes afternoon tea, dinner and breakfast). If you have any dietary requirements, please let us know when you book.
- 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 between May and September from Auckland City:
- YHA City (Go to Queen St) 7:30am
- YHA International 7:30am B
- ase ACB (Corner of Queen St & Darby St) 7:40am
- Oakley Shop (99 Queen Street) 7:50am
Travelling in Summer from October - April
Between October and April, a variation of this tour is available: Sheppard Tour
This tour follows a different itinerary to suit the season.