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Stray Journeys - COOK Winter Itinerary (ANZ23W)

Stray Journeys Winter itinerary - Runs between the month of May to September



  • Experienced Tour Guide throughout the trip
  • 24 nights’ accommodation
  • Day trip to Cape Reinga
  • Hole in the Rock Marine Cruise
  • Mourea Maori Cultural Experience – traditional meal, interactive performance, dinner, breakfast
  • Lake Aniwhenua – ground cooked hangi feast, dessert, breakfast, guided tour of Maori rock art, Maori cookery Lesson and flax weaving
  • Eco-Warrior 4WD farm tour, Whakahoro
  • Ferry crossings between the North and South Islands
  • Aqua Taxi, Abel Tasman
  • Guided Bike Tour, Wanaka
  • Shotover Jet, Queenstown
  • Day trip to Doubtful Sound


Day 1: Auckland to Paihia

Depart 7:30am and head north to the stunning Bay of Islands today. On the way you’ll learn about the rich local European and Maori history of the region. After stopping to see some giant Kauri trees en-route, we continue on to Paihia, where you have the afternoon free to explore this charming seaside town.  

Accommodation: Hostel along from the beach
Optional Activities: Skydiving

Free Activities: Hug huge kauri trees at Parry Kauri Forest


 Day 2: Paihia to Cape Reinga and back

Today you travel to the top of NZ – the spiritually significant Cape Reinga. Visit 90 Mile Beach, try dune surfing and see the clashing of 2 oceans! Sample some of the best fish and chips around on your way back to Paihia.

  Accommodation: Hostel along from the beach

  Included Activities: Cape Reinga day trip, surf sand dunes


Day 3: Paihia to Auckland
This morning we will do the famous ‘Hole in the Rock’ cruise and make an island stop in the bay. Keep an eye out for dolphins and other marine life. We depart in the afternoon to head back to Auckland.

Accommodation: Central Hostel

  Included Activities: Hole in the Rock marine cruise


Day 4: Auckland to Raglan

Depart Auckland 7:30am. We head south travelling towards the mighty Waikato River. Head on to the world-renowned Raglan surf beach, with cow spotting and a walk to Bridal Veil Falls on the way. Chill out on the beach or go hard on the waves in this funky surf and arts town.

  Accommodation: An eco-lodge surrounded by native bush near the beach

  Optional Activities: Learn to surf

  Free Activities: Waterfall walk, relax on the beach, spot glowworms in the bush, West Coast sunset, Inspiration Point.


Day 5: Raglan (via Waitomo) to Mourea

Depart 8am. Head to the rural town of Waitomo with time to explore its famous caves and see glowworms. We then head across to the Bay Of Plenty for our unique and special cultural overnight stay. This is an immersion into our indigenous Maori culture and much more than a show. We learn about Maori traditions and history and become fully interactive with Kapa Haka (Maori song and dance). An unforgettable, genuine and educational night! (D)

  Accommodation: Unique stay in the Wharenui (Maori meeting house)

Included Activities: Overnight cultural experience - including Marae accommodation, traditional meal, interactive performance

  Optional Activities: Waitomo must-do caving options – Haggas Honking Holes, Lost World, Tumu Tumu Toobing, or a glowworm tour.

  Free Activities: Walk around Ruakuri Reserve, Waitomo Valley Caves walk.


Day 6: Mourea (via Rotorua) to Lake Aniwhenua

Depart 8.30am and head to Rotorua for a morning free to discover its distinct smell (from the geothermal areas), culture and adventure. At 1pm we depart from Rotorua and move on to Rainbow Mountain to meet our local Maori guide. We head deep into the Kaingaroa Forest to the foothills of the Te Urewera National Park to experience stories, history and culture not yet touched by commercialization. This afternoon you will take part in a Maori cookery lesson and try flax-weaving. (B, D)


Accommodation: Lakefront lodge

Included Activities: Kohutapu Experience – guided tour of Maori rock art, British Redoubt and Aniwhenua Falls. Learn to put a hangi down, enjoy ground cooked hangi feast and dessert, breakfast also included. Take a Maori cookery class and flax weaving lesson.

  Optional Activities:  Hobbiton tour, white water rafting, zorbing


Day 7: Lake Aniwhenua to Whakahoro

After breakfast we depart and head to Taupo to see Huka Falls, and for the brave, we have time for skydiving! At 10pm we make our way to Blue Duck Station, a 5,200 acre high country farm that is both a working station and an environmental conservation leader. Settle in and learn a little more about what makes this destination so special. Spend the evening listening to tales from this unique region. (B)

Accommodation: Country station lodge

Optional Activities: Skydiving

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


Day 8: FREE day in Whakahoro

  Today you have a free day to explore this truly amazing and secluded location up close. There are plenty of farming and conservation based activities around the property for you to partake in.

Accommodation: Country station lodge

Included Activities: Eco-Warrior 4WD farm tour

Optional Activities: Horse riding, clay pigeon shooting and goat hunting


Day 9: Whakahoro to National Park

We depart at 6am and head to the active volcanoes of the nearby dual World Heritage Site of Tongariro National Park. Today you get a chance to do what is rated as one of the world’s best one day walks: the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Be prepared for some epic scenery as you walk around the base of “Mt Doom” from the Lord of the Rings films.

  Accommodation: Beautiful alpine lodge

Optional Activities: Tongariro Alpine Crossing

  Free activities: Taranaki Falls walk, visit the Volcanic Centre.


Day 10: National Park to Wellington

Depart 9am. We head to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, via Ohakune, Taihape and Bulls. You have the afternoon to cruise around the shops and cafes along popular Cuba Street, explore the New Zealand wonders found in Te Papa or stroll along the waterfront.

  Accommodation: Central hostel

  Free Activities: Walk ‘Oriental Parade’, head up Mt Victoria for fantastic views, and visit Te Papa – NZ’s national museum.


Day 11: Wellington to Marahau

We catch the 8am Bluebridge Ferry (check-in 7am) across to Picton on the South Island and meet the Stray bus. We will cruise through the famous Marlborough vineyard area and the coastal town of Nelson, before heading through Motueka to our amazing overnight stop of Marahau, right on the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park.

Accommodation: Unique accommodation on the edge of the national park

  Included: Ferry crossing from Wellington - Picton          

Optional Activities: wine tasting, skydiving

  Free activities: Swim, walk, mussel tasting around the fire


Day 12: FREE DAY Marahau

You have the entire day at leisure to explore this stunning coastal national park. Whether by land, sea or air, there’s tons of fantastic options for getting around.

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

Included Activities: Walk part of the Abel Tasman track and catch an Aqua Taxi home.

  Optional Activities: Full day sailing trip, kayaking, skydiving, water taxi, horse riding or hang gliding.


Day 13: Marahau to Westport

  Today we head south towards the ‘wild’ West Coast passing through Buller Gorge and down a stretch of road that was rated one of the top ten drives in the world by Lonely Planet. We stop at Cape Foulwind to visit the seal colony and then head for the historic coal mining town, Westport. The sunset from our accommodation tonight is a must see if the weather is clear!

  Accommodation: Charming character villa in the centre of town.

  Optional Activities: Surfing, horse riding, jet boating, caving.

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


Day 14: Westport to Franz Josef

An early start takes us down the rugged West Coast to the spectacular limestone Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and blowholes. We’ll stop to take a short walk and grab refreshments at the café before we head for the historic gold mining town, Greymouth. We do pick-ups in Greymouth and make stops in Hokitika before heading to the quaint little town of Franz Josef, home to the mighty Franz Josef Glacier.

  Accommodation: Lodge in the middle of the rainforest

  Optional Activities: Bone carving and jade carving.

  Free Activities: Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and their mighty blowholes.


Day 15: FREE DAY Franz Josef

Enjoy a full free day to explore the glacier. Live your glacier walking dream with a guided tour or hike to view it from below, then unwind in the spa pools afterwards.

  Accommodation: Lodge in the middle of the rainforest

Optional Activities: Ice Explorer Trip (short helicopter flight onto the glacier), Glacier Valley Walk


Day 16: Franz Josef to Wanaka

Depart at 8am. We head to Lake Matheson for a walk at the amazing mirror lake, stop at Fox Glacier for pickups, and then travel through the mountainous Haast Pass and Makarora. We pass by the beautiful Lake Hawea and arrive in Wanaka late afternoon.  

  Accommodation: Central hostel

  Free Activities: Mirror Lake walk, Ship Creek walk, Blue Pools walk, Thundercreek Falls walk, explore Wanaka.


Day 17: Wanaka to Queenstown

This morning, head out on a guided bike tour around the lake before we depart Wanaka at 10.30am and cruise down to the famous A.J. Hackett bungy site where you can take the plunge, if you dare! Then, it’s on to the ‘Adventure Capital of the World!’ Queenstown offers an optional big (make that huge) night out with excellent restaurants, pubs and live music.

  Accommodation: Central hostel

Included Activities: Guided Bike Tour


Days 18, 19 & 20 – Queenstown

With so much to see and do in and around Queenstown, you need three full days to take it all in!

  Accommodation: Central hostel

  Included Activities: Shotover Jet and Doubtful Sound day trip

  Optional Activities: Any adventure activity that we mad Kiwis can dream up (bungy, swing, jetboating, skydiving, mountain biking, zipline, horse riding…), trip to Milford Sound.

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

Day 21: Queenstown to Aoraki/Mt Cook

Depart from 8.40am. We head over the Lindis Pass through the beautiful Mackenzie Country and Lake Pukaki, then head north to our amazing stop at the base of New Zealand’s highest mountain Aoraki/Mt Cook, arriving in the early afternoon.

Accommodation: Stunning alpine lodge

Optional Activities:  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.


Day 22: Mt Cook to Rangitata

Depart 10am. We make our way to the ‘Lord of the Rings’ landscape of Rangitata. We head past turquoise Lake Tekapo, where we stop for ice-skating, snow tubing or a swim at the hot springs. We arrive early afternoon in Geraldine, and then head through to spend the night at Rangitata.

  Accommodation: One of Canterbury’s original sheep stations

  Optional Activities: Horse ride through Peel Forest.

  Free Activities: Take photos of stunning scenery, go for a walk.


Day 23: Rangitata to Kaikoura

Depart 7.30am. It is an express haul across the Canterbury plains to Christchurch, arriving at the Christchurch International Airport at 9.40am. After making drop offs and pickups, we depart from Christchurch and have a beautiful drive up the coast to Kaikoura. You have the afternoon free for activities to check out the amazing marine wildlife that inhabit the area. 

  Accommodation: Historic seaside hotel

  Optional Activities: Whale watching, swimming with seals, piloting your own plane or swimming with dolphins. Try the amazing fresh fish and chips!

  Free activities: Walk around the peninsula and up to the lookout.


Day 24: Kaikoura to Wellington

Depart 8.30am. We wind our way up the rugged coastal roads with stops for photos and to visit a seal colony. Then we take the ferry crossing over the Cook Strait, back to Wellington.

  Accommodation: Central Hostel

Included Activities: Ferry crossing from Picton - Wellington

Free activities: Seal Colony, Queen Charlotte View Walk, explore the city


Day 25: Wellington north (via National Park) to Auckland

Depart 6.40am. This is an express day via National Park to Auckland, arriving in the late afternoon/early evening.



  • Experienced Tour Guide throughout the trip
  • 24 nights’ accommodation
  • Day trip to Cape Reinga
  • Hole in the Rock Marine Cruise
  • Mourea Maori Cultural Experience – traditional meal, interactive performance, dinner, breakfast
  • Lake Aniwhenua – ground cooked hangi feast, dessert, breakfast, guided tour of Maori rock art, Maori cookery Lesson and flax weaving
  • Eco-Warrior 4WD farm tour, Whakahoro
  • Ferry crossings between the North and South Islands
  • Aqua Taxi, Abel Tasman
  • Guided Bike Tour, Wanaka
  • Shotover Jet, Queenstown
  • Day trip to Doubtful Sound

Departs Auckland on Saturday and Monday