Stray Hop On - Hop Off South Island (Willy Pass: 15 Days)

Want to see the highlights of New Zealand's South Island? This loop starting and ending in Christchurch showcases the very best of the area excluding the Far South.

map Christchurch, New Zealand
Duration
Duration
12 months
Max group size
Max group size
30
Minimum age
Minimum age
18 years
Fitness level
Fitness level
Any
Meals
Meals
Not included
Start & finish location
Start & finish location
Christchurch
NZD $579
ValueNZD $775SAVE 25%
Book now
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What's Included

  • New Zealand bus pass valid for 12 months
  • Flexible, guided travel around New Zealand
  • Hop on hop off where you like
  • Start in Christchurch and end in Chirstchurch
  • Comfortable private buses
  • Stray Driver Guide - source of local knowledge, can help with booking activities & accommodation
  • Off the beaten track - authentic, local culture

What's excluded

  • Accommodation cost - you have the flexibility to choose and pay-as-you-go at exclusive Stray prices!
  • Meals
  • Activities - you have the flexibility to choose and pay-as-you-go!

Why do we love this

"We love Stray because they take you further off the beaten track than anyone else, to remote destinations known as their Strademark Places!"

WHAT TO EXPECT

 

Who are Stray?

 

Stray is an independently owned travel company, made up of a group of young travellers who are passionate about making sure you experience awesome adventures. They are known for their flexible travel passes that take you completely off the beaten track. Every one of their chosen location has tonnes of things to do and see, you can choose to stay in each place for as long as you like and tailor the trip to your style - from learning to surf to climbing mountains, from helicopter rides to thermal pools, Hobbiton to Maori weaving - you can do it all in New Zealand!

 

The Willy Pass Itinerary

 

DAY 1: CHRISTCHURCH TO KAIKOURA

 

We start off by picking up some Strayers from Christchurch Airport as we depart early for a beautiful drive up the coast to Kaikoura. We'll arrive in Kaikoura around midday, you'll have the afternoon free to go whale watching and enjoy other marine activities. Get out on the water and experience one of Kaikoura’s famous dolphin and whale watching tours, spot seals at Goose Bay or wander around the peninsula and enjoy a delicious seafood BBQ.

 

Where are we staying?

Dusky Lodge -  a warm modern hostel.

 

What can we do here?

Whale watching by boat or by plane, swimming with dolphins, join a guided fishing trip.

 

Free Activity

Walk around the peninsula and up to the lookout.

 

 

DAY 2: KAIKOURA TO PICTON

 

We'll leave Kaikoura in the morning and wind our way up the rugged coastal roads towards the top of the South Island. Tonight's stop is in the port town of Picton, so enjoy an afternoon exploring this pretty little place and the surrounding Marlborough Sounds. There are plenty of short walks to enjoy around the town and waterfront, such as the Queen Charlotte Sound view walk. Feel free to unwind this evening in the spa pool at the accommodation.

 

Where are we staying?

Picton Villa - a cosy villa.

 

What can we do here?

Take a boat trip through the Marlborough Sounds.

 

Free Activity

Enjoy the Queen Charlotte Sound view walk, go fishing, cycle around town, relax in the accommodation’s spa pool!

 

 

DAY 3: PICTON TO MARAHAU (ABEL TASMAN)

 

This morning is a relaxed one, so take time getting to know charming Picton. Get ready to meet your Stray group at the accommodation at midday. Then we'll jump on board and drive through the world famous wine region of Marlborough. Depending on how the group's feeling, we may stop for a wine tasting and sample Marlborough's famous Sauvignon Blanc. We'll stop in Motueka to stock up on supplies for the next couple days and then make our way to our amazing overnight destination Marahau, on the edge of the incredible Abel Tasman National Park.

 

Where are we staying?

The Barn - unique Stray accommodation on the edge of the national park.

 

What can we do here?

Wine tasting or if you're feeling brave, skydiving!

 

Free Activity

Walks, mussel tasting around the fire and stargazing.

 

 

DAY 4: MARAHAU (ABEL TASMAN)

 

Today is up to you! Make the most of being in one of New Zealand's sunniest spots and take time to explore every inch of Abel Tasman. Go hiking on some of NZ's Great Walks, try kayaking across the national park's turquoise waters, go sailing or hop on a water taxi and find a secluded beach to while away the day. 

 

Where are we staying?

The Barn - unique Stay accommodation on the edge of Abel Tasman National Park.

 

What can we do here?

Join a sailing trip, hop on a water taxi, go kayaking, try stand-up paddle boarding or hang gliding even board a scenic microlight flight - there is so much on offer in Abel Tasman!

 

Free Activity

Go for a swim, hike one of NZ's great walks and relax on a golden sand beach.

 

 

DAY 5: MARAHAU (ABEL TASMAN) TO WESTPORT

 

This morning we're heading south towards the "wild" West Coast. a rugged, untamed coastline, home to some of New Zealand's most beautiful natural attractions and spectacular sunsets. We'll head through Buller Gorge along one of the top 10 drives in the world according to Lonely Planet. We'll take a walk along the craggy cliffs at Cape Foulwind and spot the seal colony that live at Tauranga Bay after which we'll head to the old coal mining town of Westport. This historic town is renowned for having the best waves on the South Island, so grab a board and go for a surf lesson!

 

Where are we staying?

TripInn Westport - a charming villa, packed with character in the centre of town.

 

What can we do here?

Go surfing, caving or beer tasting on a craft beer brewery tour!

 

Free Activity

Spot the Westport seals and watch a mesmirising West Coast sunset.

 

 

DAY 6: WESTPORT TO FRANZ JOSEF

 

We're up early this morning to head further down the rugged West Coast. We'll be stopping off at Punakaiki’s famous Pancake Rocks, unique limestone rock formations with impressive blowholes. We'll make a short stop in the historic town of Greymouth for a few pick-ups, before heading to the greenstone capital of Hokitika, so grab yourself a precious gem! Before finally stopping at the quaint town of Franz Josef, home to the mighty Franz Josef Glacier

 

Where are we staying?

Rainforest Retreat - a lodge in the middle of the rainforest.

 

What can we do here?

Do a Heli-Hike of Franz Josef Glacier.

 

Free Activity

Visit Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and the mighty blowholes or walk along the beach in Hokitika.

 

 

DAY 7: FRANZ JOSEF

 

You have the whole day to explore Franz Josef Glacier, a West Coast highlight. The best way to experience the glacier is on a guided tour. One of the most popular tours with Stray passengers features a heli-hike onto the glacier with a guided educational tour on the ice and includes entry to the hot pools afterwards. You can also take a scenic flight over the top of the mountains or join a bush walk in the region.

 

Where are we staying?

Rainforest Retreat - a lodge in the middle of the rainforest.

 

What can we do here?

Glacier heli-hike (entry to hot pools included), kayaking, quad-biking or skydiving.

 

Free Activity

Relax in one of NZ’s largest spa pools at your accommodation.

 

 

DAY 8: FRANZ JOSEF TO WANAKA

 

Today we're saying goodbye to the West Coast and heading south towards Wanaka. We'll make a quick stop in Fox Glacier for pick-ups before heading on to the beautiful Lake Matheson for a little stretch of the legs after which we'll head inland along Haast Pass towards Wanaka. This is one of the most scenic drives on the itinerary so we'll make sure we stop for plenty of photo opportunities. We’ll pass by the beautiful Lake Hawea and arrive in Wanaka around late-afternoon with plenty of time to enjoy this gorgeous lakeside town.

 

Where are we staying?

Base Wanaka - central Wanaka hostel.

 

What can we do here?

Skydiving, lake cruise, visit Puzzling World.

 

Free Activity

Lake Matheson walk, Ship Creek walk, Blue Pools walk or Thunder Creek Falls walk.

 

 

DAY 9: WANAKA TO QUEENSTOWN

 

Start your day with a brisk walk up Mt Iron, a skydive over Lake Wanaka or learn how to fly a stunt plane - the morning's activties are up to you! Around mid-morning we'll head to the adventure capital of Queenstown, also known for being the home of bungy jumping, as the first commerical bungy jump took place on the Kawarau Bridge. We'll make a stop here, so you have the chance to take a leap of faith, are you brave enough? Queenstown has a buzzing nightlife with excellent restaurants, pubs, bars and live music venues for you to party the night away! 

 

Where are we staying?

Base Queenstown - a central accommodation in the heart of all the action!

 

What can we do here?

Puzzling World, skydiving, mountain biking, bungy jumping.

 

Free Activity

Walk up Mt Iron or watch people jumping off Kawarau Bridge!

 

 

DAY 10: QUEENSTOWN

 

Today is up to you! Make the most of your free day by experiencing all of the activities Queenstown has on offer. With a buzzing night life, stunning mountain scenery and with so many activities available, it’s easy to see why Stray passengers often extend their stay here in Queeno! Take your pick from bungy jumping, swing on the world's largest swing, go ziplining, canyoning, jet boating, skiing, skydiving or just relax by the lake with a tasty Fergburger.

 

Where are we staying?

Base Queenstown - a central accommodation in the heart of all the action!

 

What can we do here?

Any one of the crazy activities on offer here! Go bungy jumping, jet boating, luging, skydiving, horse riding... to name but a few!

 

Free Activity

Go swimming in the lake or walk up Bob's Peak.

 

 

DAY 11: QUEENSTOWN TO AORAKI/MT COOK

 

This morning we head out over the Lindis Pass through the beautiful Mackenzie Country. We'll pass picturesque Lake Pukaki on the way to our amazing stop at the base of New Zealand’s highest mountain, Aoraki/Mt Cook. That afternoon we'll join a 4WD & Argo Tour, check out the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre and 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!

 

Where are we staying?

Mt Cook Backpacker Lodge -  a stunning alpine lodge.

 

What can we do here?

Argo tour of alpine region & visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre.

 

Free Activity

Take photos of the impressive scenery, do a short walk to the Hooker glacial lake, go stargazing.

 

 

DAY 12: MT COOK TO CHRISTCHURCH

 

We'll leave Mt Cook early and make our way through 'Lord of the Rings' landscapes. We'll stop at the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo to view the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd. Next up, we'll head on to Geraldine, where we will drop off any thrill seekers wanting to raft the mighty Grade 5 white water on the Rangitata River. Those not rafting will continue on to Christchurch with time to explore the South Island’s largest city. The rafters will rejoin the group at the accommodation in Christchurch that evening.

 

Where are we staying?

All Stars Inn - a purpose built backpackers near the city centre.

 

What can we do here?

Summer only: Rangitata River rafting (late September – late March), day trip to Kaikoura.
Winter only: Stay longer in Tekapo for ice skating, snow tubing and relaxing in the hot springs.

 

Free Activity

Visit Lake Tekapo, go for a walk around central Christchurch and check out the street art.

 

FAQ
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Yes – as long as it’s along your pass route then you are welcome to hop off at any point. You can do this spontaneously, but you will then need to re-book your next leg of travel with us in order to hop back on.

No, there is no limit. You can hop off at every stop if you want to.

We recommend you book any travel on the bus at least 48 hours beforehand. This is necessary in order to guarantee your seat (particularly in peak season when it gets busy, i.e. November – March).

Unfortunately we can get busy in the summer months and so we recommend you book your seat at least 48 hours in advance. However if you find that the bus is already full, please call the reservations team and we will put you on a waiting list. Nine times out of ten you will still be able to get on the bus you want, as we do get cancellations. Otherwise we will work with you to get you on the next departure. 

Hop-On Hop-Off Passes: No, accommodation is not included in the pass price. This can be easily booked through your driver on a pay-as-you-go basis and we guarantee your first night's stay at every location as we pre-book beds for you.

All dorm share accommodation can be booked through your Stray driver. We guarantee we will find you a bed for the first night when you travel on the bus, which is really helpful for during peak season.

You book and pay for any activities as you go, through your Stray driver. Feel free to ask him/her for recommendations!

In winter our average group size is 20, in summer 30. Our buses range from 14 to 45 seaters. We try to use the appropriate bus for the group size, keeping it as small and nifty as possible! This means you can do and see more in a day.

Totally! A lot of our travellers arrive alone, others are with friends or partners. It doesn’t matter because by the end of day 1 you have already made a great group of friends on the bus! (“Meeting liked-minded travellers” frequently is rated in the top 5 reasons to travel with us.)

You don’t have to be an athlete to travel with us – all walks and activities are optional and there is something for everyone.

No we don’t have WIFI on our buses. We trialled it but found that using Prepaid SimCards with data plans provided faster and better coverage across New Zealand than we could provide on the bus. Free SimCards are available at the Auckland International Airport when you arrive, from the Stray Travel Shop (Auckland City) and some Driver Guides also carry these. The data packages are flexible and affordable.  

When you're on the bus, share stories and make friends!  It makes the experience even more memorable. 

Small print
Terms & Conditions:

  1. The supplier operates on a hop-on-hop-off service where you can "hop off" the bus at an overnight stop along the Stray route. You cannot hop off along the route of identified non-Stray run sectors, i.e. Paihia-Cape Reinga and Christchurch-Greymouth.
  2. Stray’s passes are valid for 12 months from the first day of travel. The pass must be activated within 12 months of purchase. You can hop on and hop off the Stray bus as often as you want, within this 12 month period.
  3. "Unlimited Travel" is on a space available (i.e. standby) basis only. The travel days north of Auckland (Auckland - Paihia - Cape Reinga) and Christchurch - Greymouth sector is not included. Photo ID must be presented to drivers, and all unlimited travel must be booked. If anyone is deemed to be abusing unlimited travel, they will be immediately removed from the bus and charged for any additional sectors used.

For full terms & conditions please visit: www.straytravel.com/about/privacy


Cancellation Policy:

Stray will charge the following fees in the event of booking cancellations. Cancellations should be made with your original booking agent as they may charge an additional cancellation fee:

8+ days before departure (or open dated): 35% of fare

3-7 days before departure: 50% of fare

Less than 48 hours: 100% of fare


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NZD $579
ValueNZD $775SAVE 25%
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