24 Days (Min)
New Zealand

New Zealand is a country full of incredible things to see and do – from sprawling lakes and snow capped mountains to black sand beaches and world class surfing.

If you’re trying to experience the best of what New Zealand has to offer then the Max Pass with Stray New Zealand is for you!

This epic hop on, hop off bus pass takes in heaps of both the North and South Island – from backpacker favourites like Queenstown, Rotorua and Franz Josef to more off the beaten track destinations like Raglan and Whakahoro.

It’s much the same as the Short Max, but also includes some extras in the South Island such as Invercargill and the famous Milford South.

With a minimum travel time of 24-25 days and a maximum travel time of 12 months you can tailor it to suit your own time scale and travel plans.

Fallen in love with Kaikoura? Extend your stop off!

Waves pumping in Raglan? Stay as long as the swell does!

Stray New Zealand also includes heap of awesome free activities en route too – such as snorkelling, dune surfing, scenic walks, kayaking and Maori blessings, so its much more than just a bus trip!

Explore new places, meet some amazing new travel buddies and soak up all the goodness that New Zealand has to offer!

Additional information

Recommended Travel Time30 Days+
FinishWhere You Started



Day 1

Auckland to Hahei

Accommodation: Exclusive Stray accommodation by the waterfront.

Optional paid activities: Kayaking, scuba diving, bike hire, glass bottom boat tour.

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.


Day 2

Hahei to Raglan

Accommodation: An eco-lodge, near the beach set in native bush.

Optional paid activities: Learn to surf, sunset cruise, dine on fresh fish and chips for dinner

Free activities: Walk to the waterfall, bush walk around Mt Karioi, beach walk, glow-worm spotting in the bush, West Coast sunset, Inspiration Point.


Day 3

Raglan (via Waitomo) to Rotorua

Accommodation: Comfortable central city hostel

Optional paid activities: Waitomo ‘must-do’ caving options or a glow-worm tour, Hobbiton, Tamaki Village

Free activities: Walk around Ruakuri Reserve, Waitomo Valley Caves walk


Day 4

Rotorua to Lake Aniwhenua

Unique Stray Experience: The Lake Aniwhenua overnight experience is $95, which includes comfortable lodge accommodation, a guided tour to sacred Maori rock carvings, a Marae experience, afternoon tea, delicious ‘Hangi’ dinner and buffet breakfast, participation in an altruistic community program. 

Accommodation: Scenic lakefront lodge, including afternoon tea, a Hangi dinner and breakfast
Optional paid activities: Night eeling, flax weaving


Day 5

Lake Aniwhenua to Whakahoro

Accommodation: Country station lodge.

Optional paid activities: Taupo: skydiving, bungy.

Free activities: Huka Falls, Spa Road walk.


Day 6


Accommodation: Country station lodge.

Optional paid activities: An eco-warrior 4WD tour, a one day horse trek, clay bird shooting, kayaking, jet boating, pest control.

Free activities: Walk around the truly amazing property at Whakahoro and take in the lush scenery, walk to the Kaiwhakauka waterfall, enjoy your hosts’ fantastic hospitality and stories of the local wildlife and history.


Day 7

Whakahoro to National Park

Accommodation: Alpine lodge.

Optional paid activities: The Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

Free activities: Taranaki Falls walk, visit the Volcanic Centre, Tawhai Falls (Gollum’s pool).


Day 8

National Park to Wellington

Accommodation: Central city hostel.

Optional paid activities: 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.


Day 9

Wellington to Marahau (Abel Tasman)

Accommodation: Unique Stray accommodation on the edge of the national park.

Optional paid activities: Wine tasting, skydiving.

Free activities: Walks, mussel tasting around the fire, stargazing.


Day 10

Marahau (Abel Tasman)

Accommodation: Unique Stray accommodation on the edge of the national park.

Optional paid activities: Full day sailing trip, kayaking, skydiving, water taxi, stand-up paddle boarding, canyoning, hang gliding, scenic microlight flight.

Free activities: Walk in the national park, relax on one of the golden sand beaches, go for a swim.


Day 11

Marahau (Abel Tasman) to Westport

Accommodation: Charming character villa in the centre of town.

Optional paid activities: Surfing, caving, craft brewery tour.

Free activities: Westport seal colony, West Coast sunset, Truman Track walk.


Day 12

Westport to Franz Josef

Accommodation: Lodge in the middle of the rainforest.

Optional activities: Save some coin today!

Free activities: Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and the mighty blowholes, walk along the beach.


Day 13

Franz Josef

Accommodation: Lodge in the middle of the rainforest.

Optional paid activities: The ‘Ice Explorer’ Trip – a short heli-hop onto the glacier followed by an educational tour (entry to hot pools included), kayaking, skydiving.

Free activities: Many excellent bush hikes (but we recommend a guided one for safety). Relax in one of NZ’s largest spa pools at your accommodation.


Day 14

Franz Josef to Wanaka

Accommodation: Central Wanaka hostel.

Optional paid activities: Save some coin today!

Free activities: Lake Matheson walk, Ship Creek walk, Blue Pools walk, Thundercreek Falls walk, explore Wanaka.


Day 15

Wanaka to Queenstown

Accommodation: Central hostel close to all the action.

Optional paid activities: Puzzling World, skydiving, bungy jumping, mountain biking, pilot your own stunt plane or learn to fly and take a friend for free.

Free activities: Walk Mt Iron, watch people jumping off a bridge!


Day 16


Accommodation: Central hostel close to all the action.

Optional paid activities: Any adventure activity that we mad Kiwis can dream up (bungy, swing, jet boating, skydiving, mountain biking, zipline, horse riding…).

Free activities: Sleep in, great walks, take in beautiful views from this cool resort town.


Day 17

Queenstown to Gunn’s Camp

It’s an early start as we head for breathtaking Fiordland National Park and NZ’s most famous destination Milford Sound, sometimes called the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’. Sit back and enjoy one of the most scenic drives on the South Island circuit as we cruise past Lake Wakatipu and watch the landscape change from farmland to mountains, glacier carved valleys and fiords. There is time to do a cruise around Milford Sound before we head for our unique Stray overnight stop, Gunn’s Camp. Located in the solitude of Hollyford Valley, there’s no better place to enjoy an evening under the stars, spot glow-worms and listen out for kiwi bird calls.

Accommodation: Historic camp in the heart of Fiordland National Park.

Optional paid activities: Milford Sound cruise (ask the driver about the special Milford Sound + Stewart Island combo).

Free activities: Stunning views, visit the historic museum or take in the incredible surroundings at Gunn’s Camp, Chasm walk.


Day 18

Gunn’s Camp to Invercargill/Stewart Island

We start the morning with a short riverside stroll through beech forest on the Viewing Gantry walk. Fiordland is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site Te Wahipounamu (which incorporates four national parks including Mt Cook, Mt Aspiring, Westland and Fiordland) and you’ll understand why as you soak up the spectacular landscape around you. This afternoon we travel further south via Te Anau to Invercargill, next stop Stewart Island! NZ’s third-largest island, Stewart Island has an abundance of activities such as fishing, kayaking, diving, bird watching and tramping tracks. Those not going to Stewart Island will spend the night in Invercargill.

Accommodation: Stewart Island backpackers or central hostel in Invercargill.

Optional paid activities: Te Anau Wildlife Centre, catch the ferry to Stewart Island (ask the driver about the special Milford Sound + Stewart Island combo).

Free activities: Humboldt Falls walk, Viewing Gantry walk.


Day 19

Invercargill/Stewart Island to Queenstown

The morning is yours to explore the island, meet the locals, go fishing or enjoy some of the walks. We catch an afternoon ferry back to the mainland. For those who chose not to venture onto Stewart Island your bus departs mid-morning to head out to Waipapa Point, Curio Bay and Porpoise Bay for some sea-lion, penguin and dolphin spotting. On the chance we can’t find any wildlife, we can visit the 180 million-year-old fossilized forest and grab a milkshake. Afterwards we return to Bluff Hill to meet up with the island-goers before we express back to Queenstown.

Accommodation: Central hostel close to all the action.

Optional paid activities: Stewart Island: fishing, Village & Bays tour, go to Ulva Island.

Free activities: Explore the island, amazing birdlife, walks through the native parkland (Stewart Island); visit the start/end point for State Highway 1, sea-lion, penguin, dolphin spotting, find Burt Munro’s World’s Fastest Indian, Bluff Hill walk,  visit Henry the 118-year-old tuatara (Invercargill).


Day 20

Queenstown to Aoraki/Mt Cook

Today we head over the Lindis Pass through the beautiful Mackenzie Country and past picturesque Lake Pukaki on the way to our amazing stop at the base of New Zealand’s highest mountain, Aoraki/Mt Cook. We arrive in the early afternoon with time to do a 4WD & Argo Tour, check out the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre or 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 (we’d recommend leaving climbing Mt Cook to the experienced mountaineers though).

Accommodation: Stunning alpine lodge.

Optional paid activities: Argo tour of alpine region, visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre.

Free activities: Take photos of awe-inspiring scenery, do one of the many great short walks to the Hooker glacial lake (weather dependent).


Day 21

Mt Cook to Christchurch
Leaving Mt Cook we make our way through a landscape made famous in the Lord of the Rings films. We make a stop at turquoise Lake Tekapo before heading on to Geraldine, where we will drop off the thrill seekers wanting to raft the top notch Grade 5 white water on the Rangitata River. Those not rafting will continue on to Christchurch for a mid-afternoon arrival, giving you time to explore parts of the South Island’s largest city. The rafters will rejoin the group at the accommodation in Christchurch this evening.
Accommodation: Purpose built backpackers near the city centre.
Optional paid activities: Rangitata River rafting (late September – late March only).
Free activities: Take photos of stunning scenery, go for a walk around central Christchurch.


Day 22

Christchurch to Nelson
We stop briefly to do pick-ups and drop-offs at the Christchurch International Airport as we depart Christchurch this morning. Once we’re out of the city, we head north across the Southern Alps through scenic Lewis Pass and drive past Nelson Lakes National Park on our way to our next destination Nelson, the sunshine capital of New Zealand. Nelson is a cool little town that’s home to a thriving community of artists and many fine wineries and craft breweries. It’s a great spot to score some unique NZ made crafts at the weekend markets.
Accommodation: Comfortable hostel in the heart of sunny Nelson.
Optional paid activities: Sample local wines and craft beers.
Free activities: Centre of New Zealand walk on Botanical Hill.


Day 23

Nelson (via Picton) to Wellington
Leaving Nelson in the morning, we drive across the famous Marlborough region to the town of Blenheim before reaching Picton. For those that choose to hop off in the port town of Picton on the South Island, check out the Queen Charlotte Sound view walk, and enjoy the free fishing gear and mountain bikes at the Picton accommodation. Those heading to Wellington will catch the afternoon Bluebridge Ferry across the Cook Strait (from Picton to Wellington). The evening in Wellington is free so why not explore this funky town’s nightlife at any of the bars and restaurants along Cuba Street.
Accommodation: Central Wellington hostel or cosy villa in Picton.
Optional paid activities: Save some coin today!
Free activities: Explore Wellington city, go fishing/mountain biking in Picton.


Day 24

Wellington (via Taupo) to Auckland

We depart in the early morning. This is an express day via Taupo heading back to New Zealand’s largest city Auckland. You can hop off anywhere along the way. With an early evening arrival, there’s still time to wander the streets of Auckland, visit the waterfront, do some souvenir shopping and hang out in some of Auckland’s lively cafes and bars. We hope you had a blast on your Stray adventure!

stray new zealand hop on hop off bus pass max auckland christchurch


Start: Anywhere*
Finish: Where you started

Minimum Days: 24-25 days

Recommended: 4+ weeks

*This Pass can start or finish anywhere on this route, however most people start/finish in Auckland.


  1. Stay at a wilderness lodge in the bush at Raglan – overlooking New Zealand’s premier surf beach.
  2. See glow-worms and do some amazing caving at Waitomo Caves.
  3. Overnight stay on a Marae (Maori meeting house) in Mourea includes your accommodation, hangi (dinner), breakfast and unique cultural experience all for only $80.
  4. Stop in at Rotorua to experience (smell) the geothermal activity and do extreme white water rafting.
  5. Discover history and culture not yet touched by the hand of commercialism at our exclusive stop at Lake Aniwhenua.
  6. Tongariro National Park (the volcanoes, Mordor and Mt Doom , NZ’s best one day walk the ‘Tongariro Alpine Crossing’).
  7. Stay at award-winning conservation stop Whakahoro for wild, wilderness activities!
  8. Wellington – NZ’s capital city, home to our national museum Te Papa.
  9. Unique overnight and a free day in Abel Tasman National Park (walks, sailing and kayaking options in this stunning area).
  10. Overnight at a beachfront retreat in Punakaikiand experience the remote and rugged West Coast.
  11. Majestic Franz Josef glacier with a free day to hike and explore it.
  12. Spend a few days in Queenstown – the adventure and party capital of NZ!
  13. The stunning fiord of Milford Sound and historic Gunn’s Camp.
  14. Stewart Island’s natural untouched beauty and wildlife or the Catlins wilderness area for seals and remote scenery.
  15. Stay at base of NZ’s highest mountain Aoraki/Mt Cook.
  16. High country sheep station in Lord of the Rings scenery at Rangitata.
  17. Visit Kaikoura, for the awe-inspiring whale watching and wildlife spotting.


Most travellers start this pass in Auckland. See the Timetable tab for all other departure days and times.

Auckland Northbound: Mondays, Tuesdays (Summer-only), Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Auckland Southbound: Tuesdays, Wednesday (Summer-only), Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays (Spring-only).

All bookings must be re-confirmed at least 48 hours in advance. Please contact us on 0064 9 5262149 or support@straytravel.co.nz or visit our Stray Retail branch at 50 Fort Street, Auckland City.


For Stray Hop-on Hop-off travel passes, Stray Journeys and Stray Adventures.

Stray will charge the following fees in the event of booking cancellations:

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

Cancellations should be made with your original booking agent who may charge an additional fee. If you booked online please contact reservations@straytravel.co.nz

Please note our terms and conditions are subject to change so please check our website for the latest version.

Provider Details
Stray Limited
Free Phone: 1300733048 Phone: +64 95262140
PO Box 112 037 60 Walls Road Penrose Auckland 1642 New Zealand

stray new zealand hop on hop off bus pass

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