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New Zealand
Starting From AU$920.19

Stray NZ: Dave pass

"Dave" is a great pass if you want to focus your time on the South Island but are flying out of Auckland. You will complete the whole South Island circuit and then travel on our express service from Wellington to Auckland.

We recommend at least 2-3 weeks to get the most out of your trip and to allow some time to hop-off and explore your favourite destinations for longer. If you have less time, check out the Short Dave.

 

 

DESTINATION HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Unique overnight and a free day in Abel Tasman National Park (walks, sailing and kayaking options in this stunning area).
  2. Experience the remote and rugged West Coast.
  3. Majestic Franz Josef glacier with a free day to hike and explore it.
  4. Spend a few days in Queenstown - the adventure and party capital of NZ!
  5. The stunning fiord of Milford Sound and historic Gunn's Camp.
  6. Stewart Island's natural untouched beauty and wildlife or the Catlins wilderness area for sealions and remote scenery.
  7. Stay at base of NZ's highest mountain Aoraki/Mt Cook.
  8. High country sheep station in Lord of the Rings scenery at Rangitata.
  9. Visit Kaikoura, for the awe-inspiring whale watching and wildlife spotting

 

DAVE Pass 

National Hop-On Hop-Off Pass Itinerary

Start: Christchurch

Finish: Auckland

Minimum Days: 17-20

Recommended: 3+ weeks


Christchurch to Nelson


Haere mai (welcome)! We stop briefly to do pick-ups and drop-offs at the Christchurch International Airport as we depart Christchurch this morning. Once we’re out of the city, we head north across the Southern Alps through scenic Lewis Pass and drive past Nelson Lakes National Park on our way to our next destination Nelson, the sunshine capital of New Zealand. Nelson is a cool little town that’s home to a thriving community of artists and many fine wineries and craft breweries. It’s a great spot to score some unique NZ made crafts at the weekend markets.


Accommodation: Comfortable hostel in the heart of sunny Nelson.
Optional paid activities: Sample local wines and craft beers.
Free activities: Centre of New Zealand walk on Botanical Hill.


Nelson to Picton


Leaving Nelson in the morning, we drive across the famous Marlborough region to the town of Blenheim before reaching your overnight stop in the port town of Picton. We recommend checking out the Queen Charlotte Sound view walk or taking advantage of the free fishing gear and mountain bikes at the Picton accommodation.


Accommodation: Cosy villa.
Optional paid activities: Save some coin today!
Free activities: Queen Charlotte Sound view walk, go fishing, mountain biking.

 

Picton to Marahau (Abel Tasman)

 

Enjoy a leisurely morning because today you’ll meet your Stray group at the accommodation at midday. We cruise through the world famous Marlborough vineyard area and, depending on the group, may stop for a bit of wine tasting before heading to the coastal town of Nelson. We make a supermarket stop in Motueka to stock up on supplies for the next couple days and then make our way to our amazing and remote overnight stop Marahau, right on the edge of the spectacular Abel Tasman National Park.

 

Accommodation: Unique Stray accommodation on the edge of the national park.

Optional paid activities: Wine tasting, skydiving.

Free activities: Walk, mussel tasting around the fire, stargazing.

 

Marahau (Abel Tasman)

 

With a full day at your leisure, don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore this stunning, coastal national park on foot, by sea or from the air. Abel Tasman is famous for being one of the sunniest spots in New Zealand and, as home to one of NZ’s Great Walks, is a popular place to hop off for hiking enthusiasts. Even those short on time can still kayak, sail or take a water taxi to get a taste of the park’s natural golden sand beaches and brilliant blue waters.

 

Accommodation: Unique Stray accommodation on the edge of the national park.

Optional paid activities: Full day sailing trip, kayaking, skydiving, water taxi, stand-up paddle boarding, canyoning, hang gliding, scenic microlight flight.

Free activities: Walk in the national park, relax on one of the golden sand beaches, go for a swim.

 

Marahau (Abel Tasman) to Westport

 

Today we head south towards the ‘wild’ West Coast passing through Buller Gorge and down a stretch of road that was recently rated one of the top ten drives in the world by Lonely Planet. We stop for a walk at Cape Foulwind to visit the seal colony and then head for the historic coal mining town, Westport. The sunset from our accommodation tonight is a ‘must see’ if the weather is clear.

 

Accommodation: Charming character villa in the centre of town.

Optional paid activities: Surfing, caving, craft brewery tour.

Free activities: Westport seal colony, West Coast sunset, Truman Track walk.

 

Westport to Franz Josef

 

An early start takes us further down the rugged West Coast to the spectacular limestone Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and blowholes. We’ll stop to take a short walk around these unique rock formations before we head for the historic gold mining town, Greymouth. We do pick-ups in Greymouth and make a stop in Hokitika on our way to the quaint little town of Franz Josef, home to the mighty Franz Josef Glacier.

 

Accommodation: Lodge in the middle of the rainforest.

Optional activities: Save some coin today!

Free activities: Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and the mighty blowholes, walk along the beach.

 

Franz Josef

 

Enjoy a free day to get out and experience the Franz Josef Glacier, a true highlight of the West Coast. The best way to navigate the maze of ice and explore the incredible landscape on the Franz Josef Glacier is with a guided tour, which always ranks as a favourite activity amongst Stray travellers. Other options include visiting the glacial terminal face for some spectacular photos or one of the many excellent bush hikes in the region.

 

Accommodation: Lodge in the middle of the rainforest.

Optional paid activities: The ‘Ice Explorer’ Trip – a short heli-hop onto the glacier followed by an educational tour (entry to hot pools included), kayaking, skydiving.

Free activities: Many excellent bush hikes (but we recommend a guided one for safety). Relax in one of NZ’s largest spa pools at your accommodation.

 

Franz Josef to Wanaka

 

It’s time to leave the West Coast behind - we stop in the morning for pick-ups at Fox Glacier before heading to the amazing mirror-like Lake Matheson. We’ll travel inland through the mountainous Haast Pass and Makarora towards Wanaka. This is one of the most scenic drives you’ll ever do and we’ll stop for plenty of photo ops as we drive from rainforests to mountains, through beech forest and past great lakes. We’ll pass by the beautiful Lake Hawea and arrive in Wanaka late-afternoon in time to enjoy this picturesque lakeside town.

 

Accommodation: Central Wanaka hostel.

Optional paid activities: Save some coin today!

Free activities: Lake Matheson walk, Ship Creek walk, Blue Pools walk, Thundercreek Falls walk, explore Wanaka.

 

Wanaka to Queenstown

 

We depart around mid-morning, giving you time to check out amazing views of the lake either by skydiving or taking a walk up Mt Iron. Then, we cruise along to Queenstown, known in New Zealand as the ‘Adventure Capital of the World’ and the spiritual home of bungy jumping! We stop on our way into town at Kawarau Bridge, the first commercial bungy jumping site, for your chance to take the big plunge. Queenstown offers an optional big (make that huge!) night out with lots of excellent restaurants, pubs and live music to check out.

 

Accommodation: Central hostel close to all the action.

Optional paid activities: Puzzling World, skydiving, bungy jumping, mountain biking, pilot your own stunt plane or learn to fly and take a friend for free.

Free activities: Walk Mt Iron, watch people jumping off a bridge!

 

Queenstown

 

You need at least one free day in Queenstown to make the most of the range of activities on offer, but it’s also a great place to hop off and spend extra time no matter what you choose to do. Options include: bungy or swing, zipline tours, canyoning, jet boating, skiing, skydiving and local bush walks, or just enjoy the stunning scenery and do nothing.

 

Accommodation: Central hostel close to all the action.

Optional paid activities: Any adventure activity that we mad Kiwis can dream up (bungy, swing, jet boating, skydiving, mountain biking, zipline, horse riding…).

Free activities: Sleep in, great walks, take in beautiful views from this cool resort town.

 

Queenstown to Gunn’s Camp

 

It’s an early start as we head for breathtaking Fiordland National Park and NZ’s most famous destination Milford Sound, sometimes called the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’. Sit back and enjoy one of the most scenic drives on the South Island circuit as we cruise past Lake Wakatipu and watch the landscape change from farmland to mountains, glacier carved valleys and fiords. There is time to do a cruise around Milford Sound before we head for our unique Stray overnight stop, Gunn’s Camp. Located in the solitude of Hollyford Valley, there’s no better place to enjoy an evening under the stars, spot glow-worms and listen out for kiwi bird calls.

 

Accommodation: Historic camp in the heart of Fiordland National Park.

Optional paid activities: Milford Sound cruise (ask the driver about the special Milford Sound + Stewart Island combo).

Free activities: Stunning views, visit the historic museum or take in the incredible surroundings at Gunn’s Camp, Chasm walk.

 

Gunn’s Camp to Invercargill/Stewart Island

 

We start the morning with a short riverside stroll through beech forest on the Viewing Gantry walk. Fiordland is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site Te Wahipounamu (which incorporates four national parks including Mt Cook, Mt Aspiring, Westland and Fiordland) and you’ll understand why as you soak up the spectacular landscape around you. This afternoon we travel further south via Te Anau to Invercargill, next stop Stewart Island! NZ’s third-largest island, Stewart Island has an abundance of activities such as fishing, kayaking, diving, bird watching and tramping tracks. Those not going to Stewart Island will spend the night in Invercargill.

 

Accommodation: Stewart Island backpackers or central hostel in Invercargill.

Optional paid activities: Te Anau Wildlife Centre, catch the ferry to Stewart Island (ask the driver about the special Milford Sound + Stewart Island combo).

Free activities: Humboldt Falls walk, Viewing Gantry walk.

 

Invercargill/Stewart Island to Queenstown

 

The morning is yours to explore the island, meet the locals, go fishing or enjoy some of the walks. We catch an afternoon ferry back to the mainland. For those who chose not to venture onto Stewart Island your bus departs mid-morning to head out to Waipapa Point, Curio Bay and Porpoise Bay for some sea-lion, penguin and dolphin spotting. On the chance we can’t find any wildlife, we can visit the 180 million-year-old fossilized forest and grab a milkshake. Afterwards we return to Bluff Hill to meet up with the island-goers before we express back to Queenstown.

 

Accommodation: Central hostel close to all the action.

Optional paid activities: Stewart Island: fishing, Village & Bays tour, go to Ulva Island.

Free activities: Explore the island, amazing birdlife, walks through the native parkland (Stewart Island); visit the start/end point for State Highway 1, sea-lion, penguin, dolphin spotting, find Burt Munro’s World’s Fastest Indian, Bluff Hill walk,  visit Henry the 118-year-old tuatara (Invercargill).

 

Queenstown to Aoraki/Mt Cook

 

Today we head over the Lindis Pass through the beautiful Mackenzie Country and past picturesque Lake Pukaki on the way to our amazing stop at the base of New Zealand’s highest mountain, Aoraki/Mt Cook. We arrive in the early afternoon with time to do a 4WD & Argo Tour, check out the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre or do one of the many great short walks in the park.  If you want to hop off the bus for a few days there are some incredible longer walks you can do (we’d recommend leaving climbing Mt Cook to the experienced mountaineers though).

 

Accommodation: Stunning alpine lodge.

Optional paid activities: Argo tour of alpine region, visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre.

Free activities: Take photos of awe-inspiring scenery, do one of the many great short walks to the Hooker glacial lake (weather dependent).

 

Mt Cook to Rangitata

 

Leaving Mt Cook we make our way through a landscape made famous in the Lord of the Rings films. We make a stop at turquoise Lake Tekapo before heading on to Geraldine for an afternoon arrival at our overnight stop in Rangitata Peel Forest, with time for thrill seekers to raft the top notch white water on the Rangitata River. Tonight spend the night in one of Canterbury’s original sheep stations, a great place to get outdoors, go horse trekking or wander through the native bush of Peel Forest.

 

*Winter only: We stop longer at Lake Tekapo for ice-skating, snow tubing or a swim in the hot springs.

 

Accommodation: One of Canterbury’s original sheep stations.

Optional paid activities: Horse trek through Peel Forest, Rangitata River Rafting (late September – late March only).

Free activities: Take photos of stunning scenery, go for a walk.

Rangitata to Kaikoura

It’s an early departure for an express haul across the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch, which is a great place to hop off if you have time. We stop briefly to do pick-ups and drop-offs at the Christchurch International Airport, then head up the coast for a beautiful drive to Kaikoura. Enjoy an afternoon free for activities. Get out on the water and experience one of Kaikoura’s famous dolphin and whale spotting tours, see seals sitting right beside the road at Goose Bay or wander around the peninsula and check out the breathtaking views from the lookout.

 

Accommodation: Warm modern hostel.

Optional paid activities: Whale watching, swimming with dolphins (pre-booking is advised in summer for dolphin swimming). Go fishing and eat your spoils or try the amazing fresh fish and chips!

Free activities: Walk around the peninsula and up to the lookout.

Kaikoura (via Picton) to Wellington

Leaving Kaikoura in the morning we wind our way up the rugged coastal roads, with stops for photos and to visit a seal colony en-route. For those that choose to hop off in the port town of Picton on the South Island, check out the Queen Charlotte Sound walk, and enjoy the free fishing gear and mountain bikes at the Picton accommodation. Those heading to Wellington will catch the afternoon Bluebridge Ferry across the Cook Strait (from Picton to Wellington). The evening in Wellington is free so why not explore this funky town’s nightlife at any of the bars and restaurants along Cuba Street.

 

Accommodation: Central Wellington hostel or cosy villa in Picton.

Optional paid activities: Save some coin today!

Free activities: Seal colony, explore Wellington city, go fishing/mountain biking in Picton.

Wellington (via Taupo) to Auckland

We depart in the early morning. This is an express day via Taupo heading back to New Zealand’s largest city Auckland. You can hop off anywhere along the way. With an early evening arrival, there’s still time to wander the streets of Auckland, visit the waterfront, do some souvenir shopping and hang out in some of Auckland’s lively cafes and bars. We hope you had a blast on your Stray adventure!

 

View this pass online @ www.straytravel.com/dave

DEPARTURES

You have the choice of starting this pass in either Christchurch or Picton. See the Timetable tab for all other departure days and times.

From Christchurch: Please see our website.

From Picton: Please see our website.

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