Nau mai, haere mai (welcome)! Your Stray adventure kicks off in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland. 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 to visit the Parry Kauri Forest Park and hug some of the world’s mightiest trees, the native kauri, on our way to Paihia.
Please note: For those travelling up to Cape Reinga the next day, remember to book this day trip in Stray Mate by 11:00 the day before you intend to travel or speak to your Stray Driver Guide on the way to Paihia. The Cape Reinga day trip is operated by a local partner so pre-booking is essential. Any changes after 11:00 cannot be made in Stray Mate. Alternatively talk to your Driver Guide or visit the Fullers GreatSights office located on Paihia's waterfront.
Accommodation option: Hostel along the beach
Optional paid activities: Catch the ferry across to historic Russell (NZ’s former capital), skydiving, Hole in the Rock cruise, kayaking, BBQ dinner at the accommodation
Free activities: Tree hugging huge kauri trees at Parry Kauri Forest
Gear up for a big day, departing early to make the trip to the top of the country. Don’t forget to pack lunch, water and some snacks to keep you going today. Travelling on a custom built coach you'll drive up 90 Mile Beach, an official public highway, to Te Paki Stream, where you'll learn the art of sand surfing on some of the biggest sand dunes in New Zealand. Our destination is Cape Reinga, where the Tasman and Pacific Oceans clash at the northernmost point of the country. Legend says it is also the departure point for Maori souls leaving New Zealand to return to their spiritual homeland of Hawaiki. The trip home includes a walk in a kauri forest and a stopover at Mangonui for a Kiwi classic dinner of fish 'n chips (pay on the day), before returning to Paihia in the evening.
Please note: This day trip is operated by a local partner, so you cannot hop off the bus today. You can book/amend your preferred date in Stray Mate up until 11:00 the day before travel. After this time, any changes to your Cape Reinga Day Trip must be made directly with Fullers GreatSights at their Paihia waterfront office.
Accommodation option: Hostel along from the beach in Paihia
Optional paid activities: Traditional Kiwi fish and chips option for dinner
Free activities: Dune surfing
Enjoy a sleep in and spend the morning at your leisure. There’s time to do the fantastic half-day Hole in the Rock dolphin cruise around the Bay in the morning, or take this opportunity to walk to the nearby Haruru Falls or just hang out on the beach. Mid-afternoon we jump back on board the Stray bus, destined for the bright lights of Auckland, where there are still plenty of exciting activities to do if you have a free day or two.
Accommodation option: Nomads Auckland (central Auckland hostel)
Optional paid activities in Paihia: Hole in the Rock cruise, skydiving
Optional paid activities in Auckland: Skydiving, bungy off the bridge, walk around or jump off the top of the Sky Tower, whale and dolphin safari
Free activities: Walk around Paihia or Haruru Falls, go for a swim or relax on the beach
We depart Auckland and head south, travelling to the Coromandel Peninsula via the old colonial town of Thames. Renowned for its natural beauty and pristine swimming beaches, the Coromandel Peninsula has plenty to offer the active traveller, but is also a great place to kick back and relax in a pretty coastal setting. On arrival into Hahei, a small beachside village, we’ll get settled into our accommodation before heading over to Hot Water Beach (tidal dependent). This is an absolute ‘must do’ experience where you can dig your own natural spa bath in the sand and soak up the Coromandel surrounds. Tonight you have the option to join a group dinner for a classic Kiwi BBQ.
Accommodation option: Hahei Holiday Resort (exclusive Stray accommodation on the waterfront)
Free activities: Visit Hot Water Beach for a natural beach spa (tide & weather dependent), walk to Cathedral Cove, explore old cultural sites or simply relax on the beach
Today you have a full free day to embrace the laid back lifestyle that makes this area such a popular NZ holiday destination. Make the most of this special place by taking a scenic walk or kayak to the nearby Cathedral Cove, a paradise-like beach that you might recognize from one of the Narnia films. If you prefer water sports, the coast off Hahei is part of the protected Te-Whanganui-a-Hei Marine Reserve, which is a prime place to take a guided coastal boat tour or fully immerse yourself with a snorkelling excursion.
Accommodation option: Hahei Holiday Resort (exclusive Stray accommodation by the waterfront)
Optional paid activities: Kayaking, bike hire, guided boat tour, seafood cooking class
Free activities: Walk to Cathedral Cove, watch the sunrise on the beach, go snorkelling in the marine reserve, explore old cultural sites or simply relax on the beach
We leave Hahei early travelling through to Paeroa, home of New Zealand’s oldest and largest soft drinks company - L&P, where we’ll stop for breakfast. Our drive today will take us through the Waikato region, known for its many dairy farms, rolling hills and the mighty Waikato River (the largest river in New Zealand). You can make this a real 10 out of 10 day by signing up to a guided tour through the world famous Hobbiton Movie Set. Even if you’re not a fan, this is truly unique experience which explores a whimsical garden village, home to Frodo and Bilbo in Peter Jackson’s epic trilogies is loved by all. If this is not for you, then you can continue on to Rotorua where there are plenty of other activities on offer. The Hobbiton goers will return early evening.
Accommodation option: Comfortable central city hostel
Optional paid activities: Hobbiton Movie Set tour, white-water rafting, zorbing, adrenaline fuelled adventure park (big swings, bungees and more)
Free activities: Whakarewarewa Redwood forest walk
Departing early from Rotorua, our first stop of the day is Waitomo, where the main attraction is underground! Don’t miss out on the opportunity for a seriously cool caving adventure that will have you wading, climbing, abseiling and tubing through Waitomo’s magnificent cave network. Next, we will set off on a little adventure to Bridal Veil Falls, where a short walk through beautiful native bush leads to the impressive 55m cascading waterfall, before arriving at our overnight accommodation in Raglan. Spend your evening watching the surfers from the beach, enjoying a bush walk or watching the sunset from the aptly named Inspiration Point. Chill out or go hard in this cool surf town - it’s totally up to you!
Accommodation option: Eco-lodge near the beach set in native bush
Optional paid activities: Waitomo caving or a glow-worm tour, sunset cruise (summer only)
Free activities: Bridal Veil falls, bush walk around Mt Karioi, beach walk, glow-worm spotting in the bush, watch the West Coast sunset from Inspiration Point
There’s no better place to learn to surf than Raglan’s legendary left-hand surf break, so we recommend making the most of your opportunity to take a class this morning! If surfing isn’t for you, then you can cheer your mates on from the beach or go for a walk around the local area. Around midday, we’ll express to Mount Maunganui, located in the magnificent Bay of Plenty region, where you will have the afternoon free to relax, explore the local area, hire a stand-up-paddle board or even test out your new surf skills! Make sure to soak up the laid-back, surfer vibes downtown this evening or just kick back on the beach under the stars.
Accommodation option: Downtown surf hostel near the beach
Optional paid activities: Surf lessons, SUP/kayak hire
Free activities: Mt Maunganui base track, Moturiki island walk, relax on the beach
Get ready for an action-packed day! Seize the morning with a sunrise hike up Mount Maunganui where you’ll be able to see the entire Western Bay of Plenty and admire the white sand coastline. We’ll hop back on the bus afterwards, stopping to enjoy some epic sights along the way - including a stunning waterfall and blue lake. You’ll be able to snap some Insta-worthy photos from the viewpoints, get up close and personal with nature and even take a dip in the clear waters during the warmer months before arriving back in Rotorua.
Accommodation option: Comfortable central city hostel
Free activities: Mount Maunganui hike, walk to the waterfall, walk around the lake
Often labelled the adventure capital of the North Island, you have a full free day in Rotorua to discover an area rich in Maori heritage, adventure activities and bubbling geothermal wonders. There are plenty of exciting local activities to get the adrenaline pumping, such as whitewater rafting, ziplining through native bush, zorbing or a truly unique guided jet boat adventure up to bath in a hot waterfall. There is also the option to sign up for a full day trip out of Rotorua on the highly regarded White Island tour* - a boat trip to New Zealand’s only active marine volcano where you can get up close to the hot volcanic streams and bubbling pits of mud. The choice is yours!
* This is a popular tour so we recommend booking several days in advance.
Accommodation option: Comfortable central city hostel
Optional paid activities: White Island tour, river jet tour, white water rafting, zip lining, zorbing, geothermal parks, luging, Maori village & performance experience
We depart at midday, leaving the morning free to get involved in one of the many adventure activities on offer in Rotorua. This afternoon our trip takes us further off the beaten track into the remote area of Lake Aniwhenua, voted as one of Stray’s top overnight stops. As we drive into the Kaingaroa Forest we will meet up with a respected Maori elder who will guide the group to a sacred archaeological site to view some of NZ’s oldest Maori rock carvings. Tonight, you will have the opportunity to learn more about Maori traditions, including the entertaining stick games traditionally used to teach hand-eye coordination, as well as how to prepare a ‘Hangi’, a sumptuous feast cooked underground. Sign up for one of the many activities on offer or simply enjoy a sunset drink at the Taniwha Bar overlooking the lake. For those visiting during school term, you will be both touched and inspired as you learn about the beneficial community program to which Stray actively are participating.
‘Strademark’ Experience: The Lake Aniwhenua overnight experience is $89, which includes accommodation at the comfortable Kohutapa lodge, 1 Hangi dinner, 1 dessert and 1 continental breakfast. A guided tour to sacred Maori rock carvings, Introduction to the Murupara area, its people, hsitory and challenges. Learn traditional Maori stick games. Participation in an altruistic community program (school term only).
Accommodation option: Scenic lakefront lodge
Optional paid activities in Rotorua: Rafting, zorbing, zipling, agroventures
Optional paid activities in Lake Aniwhenua: Night eeling experience, flax weaving, Haka lesson
After breakfast we’ll make a special visit to the local school to deliver packed lunches for kids that often go without and participate in a beneficial program aimed at driving cross-cultural education in an otherwise isolated part of NZ (dependent on school timetable). Then it’s on to Taupo to visit the mighty Huka Falls. The brave hearted can opt to plunge from a plane on an adrenaline fuelled skydive over NZ’s largest lake! Our destination this evening is often rated by passengers as one of Stray’s #1 overnight stops and you’ll soon see why. Located in Whakahoro, one of the most remote parts of the North Island, Blue Duck Station is a sprawling 7,200 acre high country farm that is both a working station and an environmental conservation leader. On arrival, we will settle in to learn a little about daily life at Blue Duck, then relax and chill out around an evening fire.
Accommodation option: Country station lodge
Optional paid activities: Skydiving, bungy
Free activities: Huka Falls, Spa Road walk, swin in naturally heated pools
Today is yours to fully explore this truly incredible location. Jump on a 4WD and travel up farm roads, over hilly peaks and through native bush to learn about the station’s interesting settlement history and their current conservation efforts. Don your cowboy hat and explore the farm by horseback or kayak on the river through bush clad valleys and lush green hills. Visit the Kaiwhakauka waterfall or assist with the farm’s pest control efforts and bring back tonight’s dinner. It doesn’t matter which option you choose, just get outdoors and enjoy all that Blue Duck has to offer!
Accommodation option: Country station lodge
Optional paid activities: An eco-warrior 4WD tour, a half day horse trek, clay bird shooting, kayaking, jet boating, pest control
Free activities: Walk around the amazing Blue Duck property and take in the lush scenery, walk to the Kaiwhakauka waterfall, enjoy your hosts’ fantastic hospitality and stories of the local wildlife and history.
We’ll be up at the crack of dawn for an early departure to make our way to the UNESCO Dual World Heritage Site, Tongariro National Park. Today you get the chance to tick off one of the most popular activities in New Zealand by hiking the epic Tongariro Alpine Crossing, considered one of the top one-day walks in the world. This 19km walk will take you across a rocky plateau with Mars-like vistas, dramatic volcanic peaks (including the real ‘Mt Doom’), craters and turquoise lakes that you’ll remember for a lifetime. The Crossing is open to walk year round (alpine gear and guide are required in winter), but subject to the weather conditions. Ensure you pack a day pack with plenty of supplies and clothing for all conditions. If the weather prevents you from doing the Crossing, there are a couple shorter walks in the area, as well as bike tracks that are well worth doing. Tonight we will stay in a homely historic Nurses Home in Raetihi, with friendly farm animals, a pamper room and spa bath with mountain views to enjoy at the end of an active day.
Accommodation option: Historic restored lodge with mountain views
Optional paid activities: The Tongariro Alpine Crossing, shuttle to Ohakune township, mountain biking, Old Coach Road or Fishers Track, skiing/snowboarding (winter only)
Free activities: Taranaki Falls walk, visiting the Volcanic Centre, Tawhai Fall (Gollum's pool), pet the local farm animals, volunteer tree planting
After breakfast we head around the mountains via the rural towns of Ohakune, Taihape and Bulls towards the bottom of the North Island. Today is mostly an express day to get to Wellington, our capital city and home to New Zealand’s parliament and the iconic Beehive government building. Also known as the ‘coolest little capital in the world’ thanks to Lonely Planet, Wellington is a great place to check out the lively arts, craft beer and café culture scenes or do some shopping. The afternoon is yours to explore the sights, and we recommend wandering down Oriental Parade or visiting Te Papa National Museum.
Accommodation option: Central city hostel
Optional paid activities: Wellington Movie Tours, check out some of the great cafes and bars.
Free activities: Walk Oriental Parade, head up Mt Victoria for fantastic views, visit Te Papa National Museum, gumboot (welly) throwing
We depart in the early morning. This is an express day via Raetihi heading back to the ‘City of Sails’, Auckland. For those who may have missed out on hiking the Tongariro Crossing, you have the option to hop off in National Park and try again. With an early evening arrival, there’s still time to wander the streets of Auckland, visit the Viaduct, do some souvenir shopping or hang out with new friends and share stories about your recent adventures. If you are hanging around Auckland for another day or two, don’t miss your chance to jump off the Harbour Bridge or Sky Tower, skydive, or take a wildlife cruise around the Hauraki Gulf. We hope you had a blast on your Stray adventure!
Optional paid activities: Skydiving, bungy off the bridge, walk around or jump off the top of the Sky Tower, whalee and dolphin safari.