The Whio (Blue Duck) lives life in the fast lane and loves a bit of good, clean fun. The Whio will take you on a North Island adventure from Auckland to Wellington, exploring all the top sights, from the sunny beaches of Hahei, to their favourite place to chill, Blue Duck Station. If you’re short on time and want to see the best of the North, the Whio has got you covered.
Hike some of New Zealand's best tracks, dig a spa pool in the sand, taste a delicious traditional hangi meal, see bubbling mud pools in Rotorua, try to spot a rare Blue Duck at Blue Duck Station and finish the tour with a night out in Wellington.
Scroll through to see what you'll get up to or watch the video
Dorm Style Accommodation (4-10 beds) is included. You'll stay in comfortable backpacker hostels, cabins and lodges. All accommodation facilities have self-catering kitchen facilities.
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!
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!
- 4 - 13 May 2021
- 1 - 10 June 2021
- 6 - 15 July 2021
- 3 - 12 August 2021
- 7 - 16 September 2021
What our customers say:
"I couldn't ask for a better group with so many amazing warm-hearted people. Thank you so much for making this adventure so magical. The goodbyes are only hard because it was such a great time!"
- Tim, June 2020
"This trip was the happiest days of my 6 months in New Zealand. Thank you for adding so much joy to this journey!"
- Monica, June 2020
"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!"
- Mischa, June 2020
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.
Today’s the day we say ‘haere rā’ to Auckland and ‘kia ora!’ to the trip of a lifetime! First stop, Hahei Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula. This gorgeous little place will capture your heart (and have you calculating how much it would cost to move to NZ’s coast eternally). When the tides are right, we’ll drive over to the nearby Hot Water Beach and dig ourselves an all-natural hot pool in the sand. Who said backpackers can’t do luxury?
If you don’t believe in magic yet you might just change your mind after watching a sunrise on Hahei Beach. It’s worth the 7am alarm – trust us – but don’t even think about going back to bed afterwards. Instead, grab a coffee, pack a picnic and ‘carpe diem’ by hiking to the hidden paradise we like to call Cathedral Cove. Walk to the north end of Hahei Beach, up the coastal track and along the cliffs to discover heaps of cool little coves and bays!
It’s just a short trip to Rotorua and, let’s just say, the ‘unusual’ sulphur smell will be a telltale sign that you’ve arrived! Known as the North Island’s geothermal hot spot and hub for all the very best adventure activities, Rotorua is 100% one of the best places to explore… even if your nostrils tell you otherwise! We’ll stop at the Whakarewarewa Forest for a walk amongst the giant California Redwoods planted over 100 years ago before checking in at our hostel. If you want to see some geothermal activity for free, head across the road to Kuirau Park to see boiling mud pools and steaming lakes.
There’s so much to see and do around Rotorua, the hard part will be deciding what to do with your free day. You could hire a mountain bike, go ziplining through native bush, try zorbing, go whitewater rafting or hop on the gondola and race your mates down a mountain on a luge. If you’re looking to relax instead, have no fear! Visit the thermal pools, sample all the food on Eat Street or explore the lake front area and the Government Gardens.
After hanging out in a major tourist destination like Rotorua, you’ll probably feel ready to experience a more authentic slice of New Zealand culture. Today we venture off the beaten track to the shores of Lake Aniwhenua. Kohutapu Lodge is owned by a local Maori family who are passionate about showcasing their Maori tribal heritage. You'll see sacred Maori rock carvings, play traditional stick games and watch the preparation of a ground cooked 'hangi', before tasting it for yourself! Prepare your tastebuds - this will probably be the best meal you eat in New Zealand, or maybe even in your lifetime!
Exclusive experience includes:
- 1 night’s accommodation at the serene lakeside Kohutapu Lodge
- Full traditional hangi buffet dinner & dessert
- Continental breakfast
- Guided tour to sacred Maori rock carvings
- Introduction to the Murupara area, its people, history and challenges.
Rise and shine, strayers! Enjoy your buffet breakfast and get ready for a day of jam-packed adventure. Keep your togs (swimwear) handy, because our first stop is Kerosene Creek – a naturally hot river and the perfect place for a morning soak. Then it’s on to Taupo to see Australasia’s largest lake and the mighty Huka Falls before venturing about as far off the beaten track as you can get in the North Island! Blue Duck Station is a sprawling 7,200-acre high country farm that is both a working station and an eco-conservation pioneer dedicated to protecting the native environment for its namesake, the rare blue duck. On arrival, we will 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 chilling out around the bonfire.
Good news - You have a full free day to explore this ruggedly charming destination. For entertainment, you have the option to go horseback riding over rolling green hills, or jump on a 4WD and travel through native bush to the ‘Top of the World’ where you can see the three peaks of Mount Ruapehu, Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe. If you’d prefer to explore on foot, hike to the Kaiwhakauka waterfall and see if you can spot a rare blue duck in the flesh. Whatever you decide, we have no doubt this will be the start of your love affair with this lush kiwi paradise. Those holiday romances, aye!
Limber up! Today you get the chance to 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 19km hike takes you across a rocky plateau with dramatic volcanic peaks, craters and turquoise lakes that you (and your 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 you from doing the Crossing, there are other awesome short-walks in the area. Tonight, unwind after a big day in a cosy historic lodge in Raetihi – complete with a pamper room, spa bath and mountain views.
Onwards to Wellington, the ‘coolest little capital in the world’! Wellington packs a lot of character into its downtown district, with funky restaurants and bars along Cuba Street and Courtenay Place. Fill your afternoon by browsing through the exhibits at Te Papa National Museum, grab a craft beer at an edgy 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, you’ll be glad to know that Wellington’s coffee culture and cafe scene is considered one of the best in NZ.
Today your adventure comes to an end. We hope you had a blast!
If you have some time at the end of your trip, why not stay a few extra days in Wellington and explore the capital city.
You'll stay in high-quality backpacker accommodation in a variety of hostels, wilderness lodges and cabins. Standard accommodation is priced for Dorm Style (4-10 beds), upgrades may be available on request. If you purchase an upgrade, it’s for everywhere except Hahei (please note: upgrades are not offered in Hahei).
You can choose to upgrade your accommodation to a single or twin/double private room (subject to availability).
- Single Room: +$750
- Double/Twin Room: +$375 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]
Please note: At some destinations your private room will include an ensuite bathroom and some it won't.
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]