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New Zealand / South Island

11 Day Takahe South Island SELECT Tour - Stray NZ

5.0 (1 review)



  • Explore Abel Tasman National Park with a picturesque 12km hike to Anchorage, enjoying golden sand beaches and blue waters. Don't miss Cleopatra's Pools for a refreshing swim.
  • Embark on an incredible scenic drive along the 'wild' West Coast, stopping at Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and blowholes before arriving in vibrant Hokitika.
  • Experience the iconic Franz Josef Glacier with a hike through lush rainforest and glacial streams, capturing spectacular photos of the glacier's terminal face.
  • Take a memorable day trip to Milford Sound, cruising past towering Mitre Peak, rainforests, and waterfalls, while spotting Fur Seals, Penguins, and Dolphins.
  • Return to Queenstown for a buzzing nightlife and delightful restaurants.


  • Dorm Style Accommodation (4-10 beds) is included.
  • You'll stay in comfortable backpacker hostels, cabins and lodges.
  • All accommodation facilities have self-catering kitchen facilities.
  • 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.
  • Expect entertaining anecdotes, great recommendations, extra support and local insider knowledge from your charismatic guide.
  • Guides know every inch of this country. You can't get this from a google search!
  • Public Bus from Christchurch to Picton.
  • Breakfasts every day


Day 1 : Christchurch to Marahau (Abel Tasman)

Depart from Christchurch this morning on a public bus service (unguided) to Picton where you’ll meet your Stray Guide and group. We depart Picton around midday from Picton Villa, before setting off through the picturesque Marlborough region where we'll stop to sample what the region is most famous for: Sauvignon Blanc wine! Then it's onwards to Marahau, situated right on the edge of the spectacular Abel Tasman National Park.

Accommodation: The Barn or similar

Meals: Breakfast

Meal options: We’ll stop at a supermarket to stock up on supplies - Self-cater or join the optional group dinner.

Free activities: Stargazing

Optional paid activities: Wine tasting (usually $5-10).


Day 2 : Marahau (Abel Tasman)

Count yourself lucky - you have a full day to explore New Zealand’s most popular national park. From our accommodation you can hike straight into the park (no water taxi required!). It’s a cool 12kms to Anchorage and you’ll see the park’s natural golden sand beaches and brilliant blue waters along the way. The walk is approx. 4 hours each way but there’s enough photo stops en-route to spend an entire day exploring. Enjoy a picnic on the beach before checking out Cleopatra’s Pools, moss lined fresh water pools with a natural water slide.

Accommodation: The Barn or similar

Meals: Breakfast

Meal options: Pack a picnic lunch and lots of snacks for your 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.

Optional paid activities: Kayaking, water taxi, canyoning


Day 3 : Marahau (Abel Tasman) to Hokitika

Buckle up for an awesome day driving down the incredibly scenic ‘wild’ West Coast, an area known for its untamed beaches and spectacular 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 you are NOT gonna need it – we dare you to peel your eyes away from the window for even 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.

Accommodation: Hokitika Beachfront Hotel or similar

Meals: 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 quaint village of Franz Josef. The scenery will change from serene coastline to dramatic, lush rainforest. We’ll get to Franz Josef around lunchtime so you’ll have the rest of the day to explore the town or relax at your accommodation.

Accommodation: Franz Josef Motels or similar

Meals: Breakfast

Meal options: Local restaurants


Day 5 : Franz Josef Glacier

Ice, ice baby! Get ready to experience Franz Josef Glacier, an iconic highlight of the West Coast. Take a short drive to the beginning of the track. 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.

Accommodation: Franz Josef Motels or similar

Meals: Breakfast

Meal options: Local restaurants

Free activities: Glacier Valley hike, bush tracks

Optional paid activities: Shuttle to the track


Day 6 : Franz Josef Glacier to Queenstown

This morning we’ll go for a scenic walk around Lake Matheson 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. We stop at Kawarau Bridge on our way into town a.k.a. the first commercial bungy jumping site in the world. If you’re feeling brave you can tick the bungy off your bucket list or if you’d prefer to just watch then you can cheer your mates on from the viewing platform!

Accommodation: Mercure Queenstown or similar

Meals: Breakfast

Meal options: Local restaurants and cafes

Free activities: Lake Matheson scenic walk, watch people jumping off a bridge!

Optional paid activities: Puzzling World


Day 7 : Day Trip to Milford Sound

Today you’ll hop aboard a Coach which will take you to the stunning Milford Sound. You’ll take a Cruise across this impressive Sound and see towering Mitre Peak, plus rainforests and waterfalls as well as spotting some amazing wildlife like Fur Seals, Penguins and Dolphins. Once you’ve snapped as many pics as you possibly can, it’s back to Queenstown. We recommend checking out the buzzy nightlife and many restaurants Queenstown has to offer.

Accommodation: Mercure Queenstown or similar

Meals: Breakfast

Meal options: Local restaurants

Included activity: Milford Sound Day Cruise


Day 8 : Queenstown

Yaaaasssss Queen(stown)! You’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.

Accommodation: Mercure Queenstown or similar

Meals: Breakfast

Meal options: Local restaurants

Free activities: Hike Ben Lomond, the Queenstown Hill, or Bob’s Peak

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


Day 9 : Queenstown to Mount Cook

Depart Queenstown early to drive over the Lindis Pass through the beautiful Mackenzie Country and 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 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 and views of the gigantic Tasman Glacier Ice wall. Alternatively you can check out the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre or do one of the many great short walks in the park. If it’s a clear night, make sure you head outside to experience one of the best stargazing spots in the country.

Accommodation: Stunning alpine lodge

Meals: Breakfast

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

Optional paid activities: Visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, Glacier Explorer boat tour


Day 10 : Mount Cook to Christchurch

Leaving Mount Cook we make our way through a landscape made famous in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ films. We’ll stop to admire the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo and the Church of the Good Shepherd, a famous photo stop. Relax in the Tekapo hot pools, go snow tubing or ice skating (winter only) or hike up to the Mt John Observatory where you’ll witness stunning views of the lake from above. After lunch, we will continue to our overnight stop in Christchurch, a city where old meets new, as the rebuild continues following the devastating 2011 earthquake. Spend your 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. On arrival in Christchurch, we’ll make our way to the Ibis hotel which is our accommodation for the evening.

Accommodation: Ibis Christchurch or similar

Meals: Breakfast


Day 11 : Depart Christchurch

Today your adventure comes to an end. We hope you had a blast! If you have some time at the end of your trip, why not stay a few extra days in Christchurch and explore the city.

Meals: Breakfast

Pickups / Departures

Pickup: Travel by public bus from Christchurch to Picton where you'll meet the Stray bus.

Return: Christchurch


What to Bring:

Waterproof Jacket


5.0 (1 review)
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Katrin T. 21 Mar 2020
I just finished my trip with Stray that I took along the South Island of New Zealand on their Big South Freestyle Pass. I have already travelled with them in Laos, Myanmar and Australia and due to my positive experiences that I already had with this company I decided to hop on the Stray Bus again for an epic adventure through New Zealand's beautiful South Island. One concept that I like most about the Stray tours is the hop-on hop-off option that gives the ultimate freedom to stay longer at a stop if desired and travel at one’s own pace, yet having all the benefits of an organized group tour. I usually like to travel independently, however I was a bit intimidated driving in New Zealand by myself, therefore was really happy that this was taken off me and I could simply relax and enjoy the views in the Stray bus and and have the stress of driving taken off me. The drivers that took me around the South Island (Cookie, Rolex and Shorty) were all amazing. Friendly, passionate about their job sharing insider information with us and spreading good vibes. The itinerary of the Big South Island Freestyle Pass is very optimized and perfect if you want to see everything in a short amount of time (however I would recommend hoping off in Abel Tasman, Wanaka and Queenstown and staying a bit longer if you have the time). I really enjoyed my trip and meeting awesome people from all over the world and of course discovering this beautiful country with Stray. Definitely thumps up! Can recommend.

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11 Day Takahe South Island Select Tour - Stray Nz

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