Want to see all there is to see in New Zealand, experience the culture, make some great friends and share new experiences? Why not use Stray New Zealand to get around? Stray New Zealand is a flexible bus network designed for adventurous travellers. The drivers double up as great guides that’ll ensure you get involved and have an amazing adventure. These New Zealand backpacking tours can be small adventures or a full exploration of the country. You can either buy a tour, where you stay with the same people on your trip, or buy a New Zealand Bus Pass which allows you to ‘hop-on, hop-off’ so you can stay and see more if you fall in love with a place. Whichever you choose, you’re sure to get off the beaten track, see and experience more. It’s more than just a bus ride when you travel with Stray New Zealand.
Tours, Passes And More
There are a number of tours and passes to choose from with Stray New Zealand. There are also small adventures and hostel packages on offer. Whether you just want to see a little bit or tour the whole country – there’s something for every adventurer.
Hop-On, Hop-Off Passes
Stray New Zealand Hop-on, Hop-off Bus Passes are great if you have extra time. You can get on or off at any of their stops, so if you fall in love with a place and want to see and do more, you can. The passes are valid for a year and some of the passes that are a loop allow you to travel that loop as many times as you like in the twelve months. You can buy passes that travel just the North Island, just the South Island or both Islands. However, accommodation is NOT included with the price, but you are guaranteed your first night at every end-of-the-day stop (except Auckland as this is where many tours start and finish), which your bus driver can book for you. The guaranteed accommodation is in a dorm room, but you can ask for an upgrade if you want some privacy.
The North Island Passes
The North Island Passes with Stray New Zealand range from the 2-day plus Jack Pass, to the 3-week plus Jase Pass. The Jack Pass travels from Auckland to Paihia and back, whilst the Jase Pass takes you all over the North Island, from Auckland up to Paihia, across to the East Coast and down to Wellington, finishing in Auckland. There’s a total of seven of the North Island Passes, which are basically Jack, Jase and everything in between.
The South Island Passes
There are eight passes that tour The South Island. These Passes range from the Burt Pass to the Ron Pass (and everything else in between). The Burt pass requires a minimum of 1-week travel, starting and finishing at Queenstown. This pass takes you to Invercargill and the Milford Sound. The Ron Pass takes a minimum of 3-weeks and takes you everywhere on the South Island, including Franz Josef, Abel Tasman, Ohau Waterfall and Queenstown.
Stray New Zealand offer National Passes that take you over both Islands. They are basically a joining up of North Island passes and South Island passes. They range from the Short Dave Pass to the Stray Everywhere Pass. The Short Dave starts in Christchurch and finishes in Auckland – with a few detours, mainly on the South Island, taking a minimum of 2-weeks. With the Stray Everywhere Pass you literally everywhere on the Stray New Zealand bus network. It takes a minimum of 5-weeks to Stray Everywhere.
Stray New Zealand Tours
The Tours offered by Stray New Zealand mainly follow the Hop-on, Hop-off pass routes, but are for a set amount of days. This means that you’re bus group never changes, so you have more time to get to know everyone. These Tours run in small bus groups, so you can get to know everyone on your Kiwi road-trip.
Stray Tours range from the 2-night Worsley to the 24-night Cook. Like the Hop-On-Hop-Off passes, some are just the South Island, some are just the North Island and some are National trips. The price for the Tours include accommodation (in a four-bed dorm, though upgrades are available), some meals and activities (check the itinerary on the Stray website for more information), discounts on activities, all transport and of course, a guide. So you don’t need to worry about where you’re going to be sleeping.
Extra adventures can be added to certain Hop-on, Hop-off passes, so you can really get off the beaten track. The adventures include accommodation, meals and activities for a single price. Both are 2-night adventures on the North Island, where you can either be a cowboy (or girl) or go on a Kiwi search.
If you’re looking at a Hop-on, Hop-off Pass, but are worried about hostels, there’s a few places you can be at ease. Stray New Zealand offer hostel packages to save you money. You can choose a 5-night voucher, valid at Nomads hostels, which are spread around New Zealand (you don’t have to use your voucher in one place, in fact you can’t, it’s 2-nights maximum in each hostel with the voucher). The vouchers must be used within 12-months, but you will need to book a few days in advance.
There’s also an Auckland Arrival Package, which is for 2-nights in Auckland, as most of the tours start and finish here. This package removes the headache of finding somewhere to stay when you first arrive in New Zealand. Once again, you must book in advance.
Both the hostel packages are for dorm rooms. If you want to upgrade you must pay the hostel separately.
Why Stray New Zealand?
New Zealand is a beautiful country with plenty to do and see. But why use Stray and not just get a bus without a guide to travel around? What makes Stray New Zealand worth it?
Stray was created by Neil Geddes, who was a pioneer of New Zealand’s’ backpacking industry and also the founder of Kiwi Experience. He developed Stray as he was concerned by how much of New Zealand tourist were missing. Most buses stopped in major towns only and not near the attractions.
Stray is still independently owned and run by Kiwis with a passion for their country. And they want to show it off to the tourists.
There are ten top reasons to use Stray New Zealand:
1. Stray Is Designed For Adventurous Travellers
With National Parks, walks, exclusive stops and plenty of activities, you won’t be stuck on the bus for long. You’ll be out exploring the real New Zealand and not just seeing it from the bus window.
2. Get Off The Beaten Track
With unique stops and activities, Stray’s mission is to get you further off the beaten track, which they do. Stay in marae (Maori meeting ground) and by New Zealand’s highest mountain to name just two of Stray’s exclusive stops.
3. Amazing Guides
The drivers are more than that, they’re your walking, talking guidebook. They receive top training to make sure they can help with anything on your adventure. They’ll tell you about where you’re going, what there is to do, New Zealand History and culture and answer any other question you might have. They’re friendly and passionate about their country.
4. Get Off The Bus And Stray
It’s in the name. Stray New Zealand won’t just take you from A to B without even a toilet stop, they’ll do so much more. Get off to enjoy a walk, see some wildlife, taste some wine and of course, take plenty of pictures at the photo stops.
5. Save Money
Many of the Stray New Zealand Passes and Tours include out-of-the-way must sees, like Abel Tasman and Mount Cook, so you don’t have to pay for side trips. You can also get discount on activities and there’s always plenty of free activities too. The Passes are valid for 12-months and with many you can travel round and round as many times as you like in that 12-months.
6. Small Group Sizes
The average group size on a Stray New Zealand bus is 24. This means that they can include more activity and accommodation options. It also means that you’ll get to know your fellow travellers better and you can get off the beaten track more.
7. The People
Stray New Zealand attract the same kind of backpacker – those that want to fully immerse themselves with the country they are travelling. With like-minded people, you’ll make some great friendships and it’ll feel like one big holiday with your mates.
8. It’s Kiwi
Stray New Zealand is Kiwi owned and operated, so your money stays local. It also means that it’s run by people who really want to show you the best their country can offer.
9. Be Green
Stray is committed to being environmentally friendly. From helping in the Head Office by using energy-saving lightbulbs to on the road initiatives. Stray travellers can get involved with native tree planting and the company sponsors pest traps at Blue Duck Station. The guides also encourage travellers to “Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Footprints”. Because of their efforts, Stray New Zealand was the first backpacker bus to be awarded the Qualmark Enviro Gold Award.
Stray New Zealand has not just won the Qualmark Enviro Gold Award, but also the Best Visitor Transport (New Zealand Tourism Awards) and Best NZ Tour Operator (Australasia Golden Backpack Awards).
New Zealand is an amazing country to visit. With lots of amazing native and endemic wildlife, beautiful landscapes and plenty of activities it can be hard to see everything. Stray New Zealand aims to help you see it all. National Parks, wildlife, walks, authentic cultural experiences, discounts on some activities, free activities and even free wifi on the bus. With Stray it’s more than just a bus ride where you see New Zealand from a window, you’ll spend plenty of time off the bus too. With guides that truly love their country, you’ll fall in love too. You’ll get off the beaten track and see more than you thought you ever would. Whether you choose a Hop-on, Hop-off Pass or a Tour, you really will see New Zealand at it’s best.
I used the Stray Everywhere pass on my trip to New Zealand during my gap year. It was great being able to stop off at places for longer and I absolutely loved the trip.
If you’re wanting to travel with Stray, make sure you don’t forget to apply for a New Zealand visa. From 2019 all travellers to New Zealand require a visa (only those with New Zealand or Australian passports are exempt). So whether you are going solo for a tour, or are planning to work whilst travelling, you’ll need to get a visa sorted.