The big birdie Takahe is your reliable companion for the South Island. She’ll have you fanning round the South Island highlights in a loop, showing off her favourite foraging spots. From the golden sands of Abel Tasman National Park, to the West Coast's glaciers and rainforests, the party and adventure capital of Queenstown, to the "Roof of Aotearoa" Mt Cook National Park, she’s not shy of a good time!
Option to start from Wellington/Picton: Sail the Cook Strait and start your Stray South Island adventure from Wellington or Picton, then travel one way and finish in Christchurch. Select this option from the dropdown when booking.
✔️ All Takahe Tour departures between October 2022 and April 2023 are GUARANTEED
Book with confidence
✔️ 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 the South island. You can immerse yourself in NZ 'Must Do' - Milford Sound Day Trip including scenic road trip and cruise in Fiordland National Park.
We stay in Marahau, right on the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park with a walking track directly into the national park! This place is the definition of paradise, where luscious native bush and walking tracks meander along a picturesque coastline. Explore the many coves by foot, kayak or sailboat.
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.
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!
- 11 August
- 15 September
- 6 October (guaranteed!)
- 17 November (guaranteed!)
- 8 December (guaranteed!)
- 19 January(guaranteed!)
- 9 February (guaranteed!)
- 9 March (guaranteed!)
- 20 April (guaranteed!)
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.
Christchurch InterCity Bus Departure Info
7:30AM, outside Bus Interchange on Lichfield Street, near Colombo Street
*Subject to change. Please be ready at the pickup 15 minutes prior to the departure.
Wellington Bluebridge Ferry Departure Info
8:15am at the Bluebridge Wellington Terminal, 50 Waterloo Quay, Wellington CBD
*Subject to change. Check in closes ONE HOUR prior to the time
Picton Departure Info
12:30pm, The bus stop on Auckland Street outside i-SITE Information Centre (opposite to Picton Railway Station)
*Subject to change depending on ferry arrival time. Please be ready at the pickup 15 minutes prior to the departure.
DOWNLOAD FULL PDF ITINERARY
Kia Ora (hello) and welcome to Christchurch, where you’ll begin and end your tour. Depart early this morning aboard a public bus service (unguided) to Picton where you’ll meet your Stray Guide and group. We’ll depart from the Picton Villa around and set 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 12kms 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 Fergerber 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!
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: +$1260
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]
Please note: At some destinations, such as Marahau (Abel Tasman National Park), your private rooms may not be with ensuite, but shared bathroom or kitchen facilities.
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.
Health and Safety
COVID-19 Safety Measures
To minimise risk to our travellers, staff and operators we will be doing everything we can to reduce the risk of transmission and we will be playing it safe.
- 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]