The Adventure of a Lifetime on New Zealand’s South Island with Stray Travel

The Adventure of a Lifetime on New Zealand’s South Island with Stray Travel

Our resident Aussie shares why you should get further off the beaten track and see New Zealand with STRAY TRAVEL…

New Zealand’s South Island is one of the most stunningly beautiful places in the world, and from bungee jumping to exploring the magnificent Mt Cook, Stray Travel makes the trip unforgettable!

Why Stray?

Stray is run for adventurers, by adventurers. Every tour guide is there because they genuinely love traveling. They’ve had their fair share of adventures, and want to share what they know, so that you go home with a giant grin and full of wanderlust. Everyone is welcoming, knowledgeable, professional, hilarious and up for a great time.

Ride all over the country in the comfort of a bright coach that’s equipped with Wi-Fi so you can post about your fantastic trip all over social media. You’ll also have plenty of time to get to know your fellow Strayers, and make lifetime travel buddies.

Queenstown Waterfront

It’s Your Adventure

One of the best things about Stray is flexibility. Whether you’re 18 or 70, the trip is yours. This hop-on-hop-off pass allows you to create your own holiday experience, and choose extra activities that suit you. Your guides know all the best things to do at each place, and you’re guaranteed accommodation for the first night at each stop, the rest is in your hands.

This blog is based on the STEW pass, though there are multiple passes available depending on where you want to travel. The pass is valid for 12 months from the day you start your trip, and unlike some other travel passes, it’s not necessary to go back to your starting point to continue your journey.

Places to Stay

New Zealand is a backpacker’s dream, and there are plenty of places to stay, no matter your budget. The hostels are comfortable, and close to the towns and activities. Many of them have absolutely stunning views, and all are all run by helpful and friendly staff.

However, some stops on this tour are so far off the beaten track there’s only one accommodation option. Gunn’s Camp on the Hollyford River is one such place, but it’s definitely worth the long drive through beautiful scenery and the darkness of the Homer Tunnel.

Mountains reflected in Mirror Lake

Originally a Public Works Department camp built to accommodate men who were working on the Hollyford-Okuru Road, Gunn’s camp is now a comfortable place to for tourists to stay in the remote Hollyford Valley. Enjoy the tranquil surrounds on a bush walk to see glow-worms, or a share stories around the campfire.

Adrenaline Capital of the World

All of the activities and mini-tours are run by world–renowned companies, with staff that make the experience even better than could be imagined.

If you’re up for adrenaline, Queenstown (the first stop on the STEW pass) is the place to be. In the midst of picturesque mountains and cosy pubs is a thrill seeker’s wonderland. Race through the ice-blue waters of Shotover Canyon with talented, drivers at Shotover Jet, then take on the world’s highest cliff jump with the brilliant crew over at Shotover Canyon Swing, it’s definitely a once in a lifetime experience (though if you’re a daredevil and want to go for a second jump you can do so for just an extra $45!).

Queenstown is also home to the infamous AJ Hackett company. Head out to the hills and bungee 134 metres into the valley of the mountains on the Nevis Bungy, or throw yourself out over the magical landscape on the world’s biggest swing.

Spearheaded by one of the men who first sought to commercialize bungy-jumping, everyone at AJ Hackett is experienced beyond measure, and all of the team have taken on the activities themselves, so you’re in totally safe hands.

One of the many beautiful Milford Sound waterfalls

Milford Sound is one of the most magical stops on the tour. Board a boat and cruise out to see the mountains rising from the water. The scenery is amazing in any kind of weather, with countless waterfalls and wonderful views, it’s a magical place to be.

If you can brave one of the toughest water-crossings in the world, Stewart Island is definitely worth a visit. This tiny town will have you head-over-heels in love with New Zealand.

Take a tour of the island, and learn all about the importance of community and culture in this close-knit town, walk along the waterfront at sunrise, and get to know the locals in the only pub on the island.

Stewart Island at sunrise

The people here are so warm and welcoming, and all of the locals have a story or two to share. Plus, if you’re lucky, you might see someone gifted the local currency of giant crayfish and other delicious seafood.

Life on Stewart Island is calm and relaxed. This is the best place to escape and adventure; you can hire a scooter or kayak, tramp one of the many bush tracks, and finish the day with the world’s most delicious fish and chips!


Breathtaking Views…

Mt Cook and surrounds look like they’ve been ripped right from a postcard. Wake up in the mountains and take a morning walk out to the glaciers. Some walks are longer than others, with stairs, boardwalks, and suspension bridges, but the entire area makes you feel like you’re on some kind of magical quest. Spend some time just soaking in the view of the majestic mountains, you won’t regret it.

Mt Cook

Mt Cook is also one of the best places in New Zealand for stargazing. Just a short drive out to the airport you can enjoy the magical night sky as you learn about all the constellations and planets. The tour guides are full of facts and stories, and once the astronomy lesson is over there’s free time to capture some of your own photographs before heading back to your hotel to get cozy by the fire.

Lake Tekapo is so blue it seems as though the mountains have mixed their own watercolors. Over winter you can relax in the hot springs, test out your skills on the ice-skating rink, or race friends down the slope on snow tubes. The view from the hot springs is stunning, and you’ll leave feeling super relaxed and ready for the next adventure.Summer means that you can try your hand at white-water-rafting on Rangitata River or go horse riding at a stop over at one of Canterbury’s original sheep stations, and spend the evening sharing a BBQ and a few beers.

Tekapo Springs looking over Lake Tekapo

Christchurch, the final stop on the tour is a humbling end to the trip. Still recovering from past earthquakes, the city is doing its best to grow and thrive in new ways.   It looks and feels like an old English town, and is the loveliest place to finish your journey around the south of New Zealand.

The South Island does have some places made famous by the Lord of the Rings franchise, but there’s nothing like seeing these beautiful places in person, and it’s even better when you get to share the experience with a wonderful group of travelers.

Let Stray show you how it’s done!

Stray isn’t your regular tour company. This pass includes stops that are unique to Stray, and make the trip even more exciting. You get to make the most of the entire island, with loads of photo stops and optional walks at places such as Mirror Lake and Lake Pukaki. You’ll see more, and do more than you thought possible.

Let Stray show you what it really means to get further off the beaten track and live your own adventure with the 6-Day South Island Hop-On Hop-Off Pass.

For those of you keen to explore other parts of New Zealand, there is also the 7-Day North Island Hop-On Hop-Off Pass, and the 10-Day North Island Hop-On Hop-Off Pass.

For travelers who don’t quite have that much time,  Stray Journeys, including the 6-Day North Island Scenic Adventure Tour: Hahei – Rotorua – Tongariro – Wellington,  and 9-Day Thrilling South Island Adventure Tour are the perfect option.


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