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Takahe - 11 Day South Island Loop


Takahe - 11 Day South Island Loop

Day 1: Christchurch to Marahau (Abel Tasman)

Kia Ora (hello) and welcome to Christchurch, where you’ll begin and end your tour. Depart early this morning aboard a public bus service (unguided) to Picton where you’ll meet your Stray Guide and group. We’ll depart from the Picton Villa around and set off through the picturesque Marlborough region. We’ll continue through to Marahau, situated right on the edge of the spectacular Abel Tasman National Park where we’ll spend our evening relaxing around the campfire and looking at the stars.

Accommodation: The Barn or similar
Meals included: Breakfast
Optional paid activities: Wine tasting (usually $5-10)
Meal options: We’ll stop at a supermarket to stock up on supplies - Self-cater or join the optional group dinner
Free activities: Stargazing

Day 2: Marahau (Abel Tasman)

Today is a full free day to explore New Zealand’s most popular national park. From our accommodation we can hike straight into the park (no water taxi required) and then it’s a cool 12kms to Anchorage. The walk is absolutely beautiful with the park’s natural golden sand beaches and brilliant blue waters visible throughout. The walk is approx. 4 hours each way but there’s enough photo stops en-route to spend an entire day exploring, checking out Cleopatra’s Pools (yes there’s a natural water slide there), enjoying a picnic on the beach, relaxing in the sunshine - the world is our oyster.

Accommodation: The Barn or similar
Meals included: Breakfast
Optional paid activities: Kayaking, water taxi, canyoning
Meal options: Pack a picnic lunch and lots of snacks for the hike, self-cater in the kitchen or use the BBQs
Free activities: Hike in the national park, relax on the golden sand beaches, see Cleopatra’s Pools

Day 3: Marahau (Abel Tasman) to Hokitika

We’re buckling up for an awesome day driving down the incredibly scenic ‘wild’ West Coast, an area known for its untamed beaches and masses of lush rainforest. Through Buller Gorge and down a stretch of road named one of the top drives in the world by Lonely Planet, there’s not much cell phone reception but we’re not going to need it. This road offers views for days and we won't want to stop looking out the window for a second. We’ll stop at the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and blowholes to explore this unique part of coastline before continuing on to the vibrant, artistic township of Hokitika. Our accommodation tonight is absolute beachfront, located on the shores of the Tasman Sea. Treat yourself to some dinner in their Ocean View restaurant or go for a walk and explore Hokitika.

Accommodation: Hokitika Beachfront Hotel or similar
Meals included: Breakfast
Meal options: Local eateries
Free activities: Head down to Hokitika Beach for sunset

Day 4: Hokitika to Franz Josef Glacier

It’s a short drive today towards the charming little village of Franz Josef. The landscape will change from coastline to dramatic, lush rainforest so basically another day of incredible views and stunning scenery (have your phone charged for pics). We’ll get to Franz Josef around lunchtime and we’ll have the rest of the day to explore the town or relax at our accommodation.

Accommodation: Franz Josef Motels or similar
Meals included: Breakfast
Meal options: Local restaurants
Free activities: Relax in Franz Josef

Day 5: Franz Josef Glacier

Ice, ice baby! Today is about experiencing Franz Josef Glacier, an iconic highlight of the West Coast and New Zealand in general. We can get a shuttle to the beginning of the track and then hike through native bush and across glacial streams to the terminal face of the glacier for spectacular photos or just relax in the township and enjoy the views. If you’d like to see the glacier up close (before that pesky climate change melts it for good) you can go for an incredible heli-hike and actually stand on the glacier!

Accommodation: Franz Josef Motels or similar
Meals included: Breakfast
Optional paid activities: Shuttle to the track, heli-hike to the glacier
Meal options: Local restaurants
Free activities: Glacier Valley hike, bush tracks

Day 6: Franz Josef Glacier to Queenstown

This morning we’ll go for a scenic walk around Lake Matheson, known for its stunning views and mirror-like quality on particularly still days, and then we’ll make our way to Queenstown. Known in New Zealand as the ‘Adventure Capital of the World’ and the spiritual home of bungy jumping, Queenstown is a crazy combination of adventure and entertainment. We’ll stop at Kawarau Bridge on our way into town a.k.a. the first commercial bungy jumping site in the world and watch people jumping off with only a rope tied to their ankles. We highly recommend ticking this off your list if you’re feeling brave but otherwise we’ll just cheer on our mates from the viewing platform! When we get to Queenstown we’ll head straight to our accommodation. Stay at the Mercure Resort will provide a touch of luxury to your Queenstown adventure, with a swimming pool, fitness centre and sauna, it’s the best way to relax and ease yourself into life in this truly stunning resort town.

Accommodation: Mercure Queenstown or similar
Meals included: Breakfast
Optional paid activities: Puzzling World
Meal options: Local restaurants and cafes
Free activities: Lake Matheson scenic walk, watch people jumping off a bridge!

Day 7: Queenstown

Today we’ll hop aboard a Coach which will take us to the iconic Milford Sound. We’ll drive along one of the most scenic alpine roads in the world and then cruise across the Sound (fun fact: it's not actually a sound, it’s a fjord!) to see towering Mitre Peak plus rainforests and waterfalls, as well as spotting some amazing wildlife like Fur Seals, Penguins and Dolphins. Once we’ve snapped as many pics as we possibly can, it’s back to Queenstown. This evening, we recommend checking out the buzzy nightlife and sampling a famous Fergerber or just checking out one of the many restaurants Queenstown has to offer.

Accommodation: Mercure Queenstown or similar
Meals included: Breakfast
Included activity: Milford Sound Day Cruise
Meal options: Local restaurants

Day 8: Queenstown

Yaaaasssss Queen(stown)! We’ve got a full day in the adventure capital today. With beautiful mountain scenery and plenty of outdoor activities, it’s easy to understand why so many backpackers refuse to leave this place. We’ll have brekkie at the hotel and then the rest of the day is freeeee.

Accommodation: Mercure Queenstown or similar
Meals included: Breakfast
Optional paid activities: Any adventure activity that we wild Kiwis can dream up (bungy, swing, jet boating, skydiving, mountain biking, zipline, horse riding…)
Meal options: Local restaurants
Free activities: Hike Ben Lomond, the Queenstown Hill, or Bob’s Peak

Day 9: Queenstown to Mount Cook

We’ll depart Queenstown early to drive over the Lindis Pass and through the Mackenzie Country, past the vivid blue waters of Lake Pukaki on the way to our amazing stop at the base of New Zealand’s highest mountain, Aoraki/Mt Cook. We’ve made this drive sound great but honestly - we reckon it’s one of the most stunning days you’ll have in the whole of NZ.

We arrive in the early afternoon with time to do an optional experience like a boat tour on a glacial lake surrounded by snow capped alps (sounds epic? It is.) Alternatively we can check out the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre or do one of the many great short walks in the park. We would be remiss if we didn’t recommend the Hooker Valley track (weather dependent) which in our opinion is in the top 3 day walks in NZ. If it’s a clear night, head outside to experience one of the best stargazing spots in the country.

Accommodation: Stunning alpine lodge
Meals included: Breakfast
Optional paid activities: Visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, Glacier Explorer boat tour
Free activities: Take photos of awe-inspiring scenery, do one of the many great short walks to the Hooker glacial lake (weather dependent), stargazing

Day 10: Mount Cook to Christchurch

Leaving Mount Cook we make our way through a landscape made famous by the ‘Lord of the Rings’ films. We’ll stop to check out the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo and the Church of the Good Shepherd (an iconic photo stop) and if you like you can go and relax in the Tekapo hot pools, do some snow tubing or ice skating (winter only) or hike up to the Mt John Observatory for incredible views of the lake from above. After lunch, we’ll continue to our overnight stop in Christchurch where we’ll spend the afternoon wandering the city streets and laneways to discover creative street art intended to bring cheer and colour to a city once buried in rubble.

Accommodation: Ibis Christchurch or similar
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 11: Depart Christchurch

Today our adventure comes to an end, we’ll say goodbye (or see you soon) to our mates and go our separate ways for now. We hope everyone had a blast and remains Stray Mates for 4ever!

Meals included: Breakfast

This itinerary is a guide. Given the spontaneous nature of our trips and lack of control over New Zealand's weather(!), what we do each day might occasionally vary.

What’s Included

- Experienced tour guide
- Private coach transport
- 10 nights’ accommodation
- 10 Breakfasts
- Meals as specified
- Public transport from Christchurch to Picton
- Milford Sound Day Cruise

What to Bring:

-Camera, Sturdy walking shoes/boots, Warm clothing, Waterproof jacket, Hat & Sunscreen, Bathers/towel, Water bottle, Toiletries, Motion sickness tablets, Insect repellent

Please Note:

-Luggage is limited to one piece per person with a maximum weight of 23kg plus a day pack
- A basic level of fitness is required for medium length walks
- Accommodation at Lake Aniwhenua, Blue Duck Station and Marahau (Abel Tasman) is specialist. All cabins are private, but facilities are shared.

Wat is inbegrepen?

Extra kosten tijdens tour
Please check the itinerary for optional paid activities.


Please see the different activities (either free/included or requiring an extra payment) in the itinerary.


You can choose between Standard Twin Share or Private Room options. You'll stay in comfy 3-4 star hotels for most of nights and high country farm or scenic lodges close to waterfront or national park in our unique destinations. Hotel rooms are with ensuite, while shared facilities are in Strademark places.

Standard accommodation is twin share. Solo travellers will share with another person of the same gender. Upgrades to private rooms are available subject to availability.

Lokaal vervoer

Take the pressure off, kick back, relax, soak up the scenery and let someone else do the driving. You'll travel by private, air-conditioned bus.


Some meals are included (please see itinerary).

Houd er rekening mee

We actively seek out the best places off the beaten track so you'll get an unforgettable experience whilst in New Zealand.

- We stay CLOSER to the action
You've come all the way to New Zealand, so you'll want to get close to the action! We stay in great Kiwi locations, such as on a real sheep/cattle station, amongst Lord of the Rings scenery and beside at least eight national parks. Thus you can easily access the outstanding, unique nature as well as activities, such as a Maori cultural stop-over, a wildlife stop-over on Stewart Island, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing (rated as NZ's best one day walk), sailing or kayaking in the Abel Tasman National Park... All of these and more are exclusive to Stray and some of our top-rating features.

- Top Kiwi guides
Stray is NZ-known as being a top place to work - and we should know! We give our driver-guides market-leading training to help them take you around New Zealand; as well as being your local "guidebook" they provide commentary, book beds and activities, and provide information on things from New Zealand history and culture to the best drinking spots. These are all people that you’d like to adventure with.

- Save money whilst getting off the beaten track
With Stray you don't have to buy costly side trips as we already include out-of-the-way places like Raglan, Mt Cook, and the Abel Tasman. We save you time by picking you up and dropping you off at your accommodation; and by our extensive knowledge of where and what the best things in New Zealand are. We get you deals on activities so you can afford to do more, and there are always free things for you to do (please see your Stray pass itinerary for the free options in each place).

- Orange is the new Green - with one of NZ’s most efficient bus fleets
Stray is committed to environmentally sustainable tourism. Rather than just token gestures of energy efficient light bulbs and recycling (which we do anyway), we lead the market with the newest bus fleet to reduce our emissions. By choosing Stray you are helping reduce your own carbon output - travelling on a bus is one of the most environmentally friendly ways to travel, but only if the bus is full! We reduce our departure days and bus sizes in NZ's low season to further reduce unnecessary output. We have Enviro-Gold accredition from Qualmark.

- Don't just take our word for it!
We won the Best Visitor Transport Award at the NZ Tourism Awards and the Best NZ Tour Operator Award at the Australasian Golden Backpack (traveller-voted) Awards in 2010. We have extremely high customer satisfaction and referrals (97.5%) because we offer travellers more of what they want - down-to-earth, real New Zealand with an awesome crew and a greater emphasis on your needs.

- And finally...
You can realistically do the things that we list in the itinerary. Many of the things that we identify on our trips we have to go out of our way to do. For example, going to Mt Cook and Stewart Island, and doing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing are part of our normal itinerary so Stray offers the best chance to do them on our trips. That means that you don't have to hop off the bus, leave your group, and make your own way to enjoy these iconic NZ activities. Be also aware that you simply can't access much of what we think is the best stuff in New Zealand by using public transport - it simply doesn't go there.

- Is it a full-on party bus or nature bus?
Stray’s main priority is walks and wildlife and we have lots of early starts so we can fit as many adventure activities in as possible. What you do in the evenings is your choice, but we do have a couple of big nights out on the circuit in particular in Wellington and Queenstown.

- What is the average age of travellers on Stray?
The average age of Stray passengers is about 26. The majority of people are between the age of 20 and 40 (but we also have older). No matter what the age, we find we attract on-to-it people who want to meet other travellers, and get out there and further off the beaten track.

- Is it ok to travel alone on Stray?
Stray is perfect for people travelling by themselves. New Zealand is a relatively safe country and our smaller group sizes means you can meet more people, and your driver is always there for any questions you may have.

- Should I reconfirm my trip?
If you are happy with the start date and pick up point confirmed when you booked your Stray pass then you do not need to confirm. If you booked an ‘open-dated’ pass, or want to change your start date, you need to contact Stray (either by phone or online) AT LEAST 48 hours prior to a desired departure to arrange a departure date. Remember - we need to know where to pick you up from!

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