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New Zealand
Starting From AU$1,382.60

Stray NZ: Maximus pass (26 days minimum) MAXIMUS

Jump on the Stray bus and discover the real New Zealand, with (almost) everything you could wish for! From the Far North to the very Far South, the Maximus Pass includes nearly the whole Stray travel network - leaving off the summer-only East Cape.

The pass route is a loop, which means you can start and finish anywhere you would like. We recommend at least 4 weeks to get the most out of your trip and to allow some time to hop-off and explore your favourite destinations for longer.

 

DESTINATION HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Beautiful Bay of Islands with free snorkelling and glass bottom boat trip (summer-only) en route to Paihia.
  2. Stay at a wilderness lodge in the bush at Raglan – overlooking New Zealand’s premier surf beach.
  3. See glow-worms and do some amazing caving at Waitomo Caves.
  4. Overnight stay on a Marae (Maori meeting house) in Mourea (accommodation, hangi dinner, breakfast and unique cultural experience all for only $80).
  5. Discover history and culture not yet touched by the hand of commercialism at our exclusive stop at Lake Aniwhenua. 
  6. Stop in at Rotorua to experience (smell) the geothermal activity and do extreme white water rafting.
  7. Tongariro National Park (home to the 'Lord of the Rings' volcanoes and NZ’s best one day walk the ‘Tongariro Alpine Crossing’).
  8. Stay at award-winning conservation stop Blue Duck Station, Whakahoro for wild, wilderness activities!
  9. Wellington – NZ’s capital city, home to our national museum Te Papa and a cool cafe culture.
  10. Overnight stop and a free day in stunning Abel Tasman National Park (walks, sailing and kayaking options).
  11. Experience the remote and rugged West Coast.
  12. Majestic Franz Josef glacier with a free day to hike and explore it.
  13. Spend a few days in Queenstown - the adventure and party capital of NZ!
  14. The stunning fiord of Milford Sound and historic Gunn’s Camp.
  15. Stewart Island's natural untouched beauty and wildlife or the Catlins wilderness area for sealions and remote scenery.
  16. Visit Kaikoura, for the awe-inspiring whale watching and wildlife spotting.

MAXIMUS PASS
National Hop-On Hop-Off Pass Itinerary

Start: Anywhere
Finish: Where you started
Minimum Days: 27-30
Recommended Days: 30

 

Travel Day:                         Auckland to Paihia

Nau mai, haere mai (welcome)!  Your Stray adventure kicks off in New Zealand’s largest city Auckland, known by those who live here as the ‘city of sails’ because of its location between the Waitemata and Manukau harbours, making it a boaters and yachters paradise. 

We depart for the beautiful Bay of Islands, bound for the relaxed seaside town of Paihia often called the ‘gateway to the Bay’. We stop en-route for a chance to snorkel at the Goat Island Marine Reserve, New Zealand’s first marine reserve, before cruising up to Paihia for a relaxing afternoon in the stunning Bay. If the weather is unsuitable for a stop at Goat Island, we will visit the Parry Kauri Forest Park to hug some of the world’s mightiest trees, the native Kauri, on our way to Paihia.

*Winter only: We stop to hug the Kauri trees at Parry Kauri Forest Park, then express to Paihia.

Accommodation: Hostel along from the beach.
Optional paid activities: Catch the ferry across to historic Russell (New Zealand’s former capital), skydiving, Hole in the Rock, diving.
Free activities: Snorkeling at Goat Island (summer only), tree hugging huge kauri trees at Parry Kauri Forest (wet weather/winter option).

 

Travel Day:                         Paihia to Cape Reinga to Paihia

It’s an early start as we head for the very top of New Zealand along a long stretch of sand known as 90 mile beach. We’ll stop at Te Paki Stream for a chance to try dune surfing on some of the biggest sand dunes in New Zealand, then head for Cape Reinga the pointy bit at the top of New Zealand. This is the spot that overlooks the meeting place where the Tasman and Pacific Oceans clash and as legend has it, is the departure point for Maori souls leaving New Zealand to go back to their spiritual homeland of Hawaiki.

NB. You cannot hop off the bus this day.

Accommodation: Hostel along the beach in Paihia.
Optional paid activities: Traditional Kiwi fish and chips option for dinner.
Free activities: Dune surfing.

 

Travel Day:                         Paihia to Auckland

Enjoy a sleep in and morning at leisure. Sail or cruise around the Bay, walk to nearby Haruru Falls or just kick back and relax on the beach. We leave mid-afternoon on the mighty orange bus destined for the bright lights of Auckland.

Accommodation: Central Auckland hostel.
Optional paid activities: Sailing, swimming with dolphins, kayaking, fishing.
Free activities: Walk around Paihia or Haruru Falls; go for a swim or relax on the beach.

 

Travel Day:                         Auckland to Raglan

We depart Auckland and head south, travelling towards the mighty Waikato. We’ll take a walk to the majestic Bridal Veil Falls on the way to our destination, the world-renowned surf beach Raglan. Enjoy a free afternoon to relax, take a walk on the beach or a mountain walk.  Chill out or go hard in this funky surf and arts town.

Accommodation: An eco-lodge surrounded by native bush near the beach.
Optional paid activities: Learn to surf $79 (save $10).
Free activities: Walk to the waterfall, bush walk around Mt Karioi, relax on the beach, glow-worms in the bush, West Coast sunset, Inspiration Point.

 

Travel Day:                         Raglan (via Waitomo) to Mourea

Departing Raglan we head for Mourea in the Bay of Plenty, home to our unique cultural overnight stay. We stop in the rural town of Waitomo to explore the spectacular glow-worm caves, before continuing on to Mourea for a very special experience where you’ll get the opportunity to immerse yourself in New Zealand indigenous Maori culture. This is much more than just a show; you’ll learn about Maori traditions and history, spend time with real locals and become fully interactive with Kapa Haka (Maori song and dance). An unforgettable, genuine and educational night!

*Cultural night is an all-inclusive price of $80 including afternoon tea, dinner, interactive performance, storytelling, bed and breakfast. If there are less than 12 people we will stay in Rotorua with an alternative cultural option.

Accommodation: Unique Stray stay in the Wharenui (Maori meeting house).
Optional paid activities: Waitomo must-do caving options: Haggas Honking Holes, Lost World, Tumu Tumu TOObing, or a glow-worm tour.
Free activities: Walk around Ruakuri Reserve, Waitomo Valley Caves walk.

 

Travel Day:                         Mourea (via Rotorua) to Lake Aniwhenua

We wave goodbye to Richard, Ruth and the whanau and head for Rotorua for a free morning to discover its distinctive smell (geothermal areas), culture and adventure. Around midday we do hostel pick-ups in Rotorua before heading onto Rainbow Mountain to meet our local Maori guide and venture deep into the Kaingaroa Forest in the foothills of the Te Urewera National Park. Today you will experience stories, history and a culture not yet touched by the hand of commercialism that dates back to the first known person to discover NZ (Kupe).

*Lake Aniwhenua night is $75 including accommodation; guided tour and bush walk to see Maori rock art, dinner and breakfast.

Accommodation: Lakefront lodge.
Optional paid activities: Rotorua: rafting, zorbing, Agroventures, visit Hobbiton. Lake Aniwhenua: traditional fishing, eeling, weaving lessons, cooking classes and kayaking. 1 activity costs $10, 2 activities $15 and 3 activities $20.
Free activities: Kuirau Park Rotorua, relax by Lake Aniwhenua, walks.

 

Travel Day:                         Lake Aniwhenua to Whakahoro

After breakfast we’ll depart for a local school to drop lunch off to some needy school kids, before heading to Taupo to visit Huka Falls and experience skydiving for the brave!  Our destination today is one of the most remote parts of the North Island. Located in Whakahoro, Blue Duck Station is a 5,200 acre high country farm that is both a working station and an environmental conservation leader. Once you arrive, settle in, relax and chill out around an evening fire.

Accommodation: Country station lodge.
Optional paid activities: Skydiving, bungy, river jet Taupo.
Free activities: Huka falls, Spa Road walk.

 

Non-Travel Day:   Whakahoro

Today is yours to explore and discover this remote destination!  Jump on a 4WD and travel up farm roads, over hilly peaks and through New Zealand native bush to learn about the stations history and conservation efforts. Don your cowboy hat and explore the farm by horseback or kayak through bush clad valleys and lush green hills. Visit the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ and Kaiwhakauka waterfall or learn about the farms pest control and bring back tonight’s dinner.

Accommodation: Country station lodge.
Optional paid activities: An eco-warrior 4WD tour, a one day horse trek (like a real cowboy), clay bird shooting, kayaking, jet boating, pest control.
Free activities: Walk around the truly amazing property at Whakahoro and just take in the lush scenery, walk to the Kaiwhakauka waterfall, enjoy your host Dan’s fantastic hospitality and stories on the local wildlife and history.

 

Travel Day:                         Whakahoro to National Park

We’ll be up at the crack of dawn for an early departure to make our way to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, ‘Tongariro National Park’. Today you get the chance to do what is rated one of the world’s best one day walks: the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Trek through dramatic natural scenery, past volcanic peaks, vast craters and stunning turquoise lakes on one of the most spectacular treks in New Zealand.

Accommodation: Beautiful alpine lodge.
Optional paid activities: The Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
Free activities: Taranaki Falls walk, visit the Volcanic Centre, Tawhai Falls (Gollum’s pool).

 

Travel Day:                         National Park to Wellington

After breakfast we head around the mountains via the rural towns of Ohakune, Taihape and Bulls to New Zealand’s capital city Wellington. Today is mostly an express day to get to Wellington, and the afternoon is yours to cruise and explore the sites of the capital. We recommend wandering down Oriental Parade or visiting Te Papa national museum. Wellington is a cool place to just hang out and check out the arts, shopping and café culture scene and is home to NZ’s parliament.

Accommodation: Central city hostel.
Optional paid activities: Check out some of the great cafes and bars.
Free activities: Walk ‘Oriental Parade’, head up Mt Victoria for fantastic views, and visit ‘Te Papa’ - our national museum, gumboot (welly) throwing.

 

Travel Day:                         Wellington to Marahau (Abel Tasman)

We catch an early Bluebridge Ferry ($51-$75) across the Cook Strait to the South Island where we meet the Stray bus. On arrival we cruise through the famous Marlborough vineyard area and depending on the group will stop for a bit of wine tasting, before heading to the coastal town of Nelson. We make a supermarket stop in Motueka 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, star-gazing.

 

Non-Travel Day:   Marahau (Abel Tasman)

You have the day at leisure to explore this stunning, coastal national park. This park is famous for being one of the sunniest spots in New Zealand and for its natural golden sand beaches. It’s a great place to hop off and explore via kayak, water taxi or go for a walk.

Accommodation: Unique Stray accommodation on the edge of the national park.
Optional paid activities: Full day sailing trip, kayaking, skydiving, water taxi, hang gliding, stand-up paddle boarding, canyoning.
Free activities: Walk in the national park, relax on one of the golden sand beaches, go for a swim.

 

Travel Day:                         Marahau (Abel Tasman) to Westport

This morning you get the chance to get involved and give something back by participating in our Tree Planting Project. Become an eco-warrior, get soil under your finger nails and plant a tree with the Otuwhero Wetland Trust. This is a fantastic opportunity to create life-long memories of your time in New Zealand, and you can come back and visit your tree in years to come!
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 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 if the weather is clear!

Accommodation: Charming character villa in the centre of town.
Optional paid activities: Surfing, horse riding, jet boating, caving.
Free activities: Westport seal colony, West Coast sunset, Truman Track walk.

 

Travel Day:                         Westport to Franz Josef

An early start takes us down the rugged West Coast to the spectacular Punakaiki limestone pancake rocks and blowholes. We’ll stop to take a short walk and grab refreshments at the café before we head for the historic gold mining town, Greymouth. We do pick-ups in Greymouth and make stops in Hokitika, before heading to the quaint little town of Franz Josef – home to the mighty Franz Josef Glacier.

Accommodation: Lodge in the middle of the rainforest.
Optional paid activities: Save some coin today.
Free activities: Punakaiki pancake rocks and the mighty blowholes; walk along the beach.

 

Non-Travel Day:   Franz Josef

Enjoy a free day and get out and explore the mighty Franz Josef Glacier. Navigate the maze of ice and explore the incredible landscape on a Franz Josef Glacier guided tour, or visit the glacial terminal face for some spectacular photos. There are also many excellent bush hikes available 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.

 

Travel Day:                         Franz Josef to Wanaka

We depart in the morning stopping for hostel pick-ups at Fox Glacier before heading for the amazing mirror Lake Matheson. We’ll travel through the mountainous Haast Pass and Makarora towards Wanaka. This is one of the most scenic drives you’ll ever do – 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 hostel.
Optional paid activities: Save some coin today.
Free activities: Mirror Lake walk; Ship Creek walk, Blue Pools walk, Thundercreek Falls walk, explore Wanaka.

 

Travel Day:                         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!  We cruise to Queenstown known as the ‘Adventure Capital of the World’ and the spiritual home of commercial bungy! Queenstown offers an optional big (make that huge) night out with excellent restaurants, pubs and live music.

Accommodation: Central hostel.
Optional paid activities: Puzzle World, skydiving, bungy jumping, 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.

Non-Travel Day:   Queenstown

Today is yours to explore. Queenstown is a great place to spend some extra time no matter what your past-time of choice is. Options include: zipline tours, canyoning, Shotover river jet boating, skiing, sky diving and local walks, or just enjoy the stunning scenery and do nothing. Obviously you can break your journey in Queenstown for as long as you want. Speak to your driver or hostel travel desk for Dunedin connection options.

Accommodation: Central hostel.
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.

 

Travel Day:                         Queenstown to Gunn’s Camp

It’s an early start as we head for the breathtaking Milford Sound. Sit back, relax and enjoy one of the most scenic drives on the South Island Stray circuit, as we cruise past Lake Wakatipu and watch the landscape change from farmland to mountains, glacial carved valleys and fiords. This morning there is time to do the Milford Sound cruise, before we head for our unique Stray overnight stop, Gunn’s Camp. Located in the solitude of Hollyford Valley (and one of our top rated overnight stops), enjoy an evening under the stars, spot glow-worms and listen out for Kiwi bird calls. Keep your eyes peeled for Morris the Moose who the locals say has roamed the bush for the last 50 years.

Accommodation: Historic camp on the edge of the Hollyford Track in the heart of Fiordland National Park.
Optional paid activities: Milford Sound Cruise.
Free activities: Stunning views, Humbolt Falls walk, visit the historic museum or take in the incredible surroundings of a World Heritage National Park at Gunn’s Camp, Chasm walk.

 

Travel Day:                         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 rightly so as the landscape is spectacular and very photogenic. This afternoon we travel further South to Invercargill, next stop Stewart Island! Stewart Island has an abundance of activities such as fishing, kayaking, diving, bird watching and tramping tracks. There are also options for those not going to Stewart Island to stay in Invercargill.

Accommodation: Central hostel.
Optional paid activities: Ata Whenua – Shadowland, incredible movie of Fiordland National Park, Te Anau Wildlife Centre.
Free activities: Humbolt Falls Walk, Viewing Gantry walk.

 

Travel Day:                         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 always 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.
Optional paid activities: Stewart Island: fishing, hire a scooter, 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 100 year old Tuatara (Invercargill).

 

Travel Day:                         Queenstown to Aoraki/Mt Cook

Today we head over the Lindis Pass through the beautiful Mackenzie Country and past 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 Mt. Cook 4WD and 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 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).

 

Travel Day:                         Mt Cook to Rangitata

Leaving Mt Cook we make our way to the ‘Lord of the Rings’ landscape of Rangitata. We make a stop at the turquoise Lake Tekapo before heading onto Geraldine for an afternoon arrival and our overnight stop in Rangitata. Tonight spend the night in one of Canterbury’s original sheep stations, a great place to get outdoors, go horse trekking or wander through native bush in 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: Walk through Peel Forest, Rangitata River Rafting (late September – late March only).
Free activities: Take photos of stunning scenery, go for a walk.

 

Travel Day:                         Rangitata to Kaikoura

It’s an early departure for an express haul across the Canterbury plains to Christchurch. Hop off in Christchurch to explore this ever changing city.  We do pick-ups in Christchurch, then head up the coast for a beautiful drive to Kaikoura. Enjoy a free afternoon for activities. Get out on the water and experience one of Kaikoura’s famous dolphins and whale spotting tours, see seals sitting right beside the road at Goose Bay or wander around the peninsula and check out the breath-taking 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.

 

Travel Day:                         Kaikoura to Wellington

Leaving Kaikoura in the morning we wind our way up the rugged coastal roads, with stops for photos and a seal colony en-route. Those heading to Wellington will catch the afternoon Bluebridge ferry ($51-$75) across the Cook Strait (from Picton to Wellington). Otherwise we stay in the port town of Picton for the night – where you can do the Queen Charlotte Sound walk, and enjoy the free fishing gear and mountain bikes at our Picton accommodation. On arrival in Wellington you will stay in a central city based hostel.

Accommodation: Central Hostel.
Optional paid activities: Save some coin today.
Free activities: Seal colony, explore Wellington city, go fishing/mountain biking in Picton.

 

Travel Day:                         Wellington (via National Park) to Auckland

We depart in the early morning. This is an express day via National Park heading back to New Zealand’s largest city Auckland.  You can hop off anywhere along the way. With a late-afternoon 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!

DEPARTURES

Most travellers start this pass in Auckland. See the Timetable tab for all other departure days and times.

Auckland Northbound: Mondays, Tuesdays (Summer-only), Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. 

Auckland Southbound: Tuesdays, Wednesday (Summer-only), Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays (Spring-only).