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Kereru - 11 Day North to South


Kereru - 11 Day North to South

Day 1: Auckland to Rotorua

Kia Ora (hello) and welcome to your New Zealand adventure. Our tour begins in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland), the largest city in New Zealand and home to over 2 million people and around 50 volcanoes.

We’ll head out bright and early this morning and travel down to Rotorua, the North Island’s geothermal hotspot and probably second only to Queenstown in terms of its adventure activity offerings. Fondly known as ‘Roto-vegas’ due the high volume of tourists it receives, Rotorua is a hive of activity and culture.

We’ll stop at the Whakarewarewa Forest for a walk through the giant California Redwoods which were planted over 100 years ago before checking in at our hotel, the Distinction Rotorua. Centrally located and home to a spa, swimming pool and unlimited wifi (not the norm here in New Zealand) it’s a great base to explore from.

Accommodation: Distinction Rotorua or similar
Meal Options: Local eateries
Free activities: Whakarewarewa Redwood Forest walk

Day 2: Rotorua

Today we have a free day in Rotorua. Have breakfast at the hotel and then head off to an activity of your choice. Go white water rafting down the kaituna river, zipline through the trees on an eco tour, zorb through rolling hills or just relax at a geothermal spa. If you’d like to see some geothermal activity for free, head to Kuirau Park to see boiling mud pools and steaming lakes.

Accommodation: Distinction Rotorua or similar
Meals included: Breakfast
Meal options: Local restaurants
Included activity: Geyser by Night Experience
Free activities: Kuirau Park

Day 3: Rotorua to Lake Aniwhenua

After a couple of days in a major tourist destination like Rotorua, you’ll probably want some time to recharge the batteries and experience a more authentic slice of New Zealand culture. After breakfast, we’ll venture ‘off the beaten track’ to the shores of Lake Aniwhenua and the incredible Kohutapu Lodge. Owned by a local Maori family who are passionate about showcasing their Maori tribal heritage, the lodge is a pillar of the local community.

We’ll be taken to see sacred Maori rock carvings, play a traditional game of Mau Rakau and watch the preparation of a ground cooked 'hangi'. We’ll enjoy an afternoon tea of freshly made fried bread as we speak with the team at Kohutapu Lodge and practice our weaving and haka skills. In the evening, we’ll sit down to enjoy our lovingly prepared hangi feast - this will probably be the best meal you’ll eat in New Zealand, or, dare we say, your lifetime.

Exclusive experience includes:
- Welcome to the tribal lands and a guided tour to sacred Maori rock carvings
- Introduction to to the Murupara area, its people, history and challenges
- Afternoon tea
- Mau Rakau (Maori stick games)
- Weaving Lesson
- Haka Lesson
- 1 night’s accommodation at the lakeside Kohutapu Lodge
- Full traditional hangi buffet dinner & dessert
- Storytelling around the fire pit
- Continental breakfast

Accommodation: Scenic lakefront cabins
Meals included: Breakfast, full traditional hangi dinner and dessert
Free activities: Maori rock carvings, volleyball

Day 4: Lake Aniwhenua to Blue Duck Station

We’ll tuck into our buffet breakfast and say goodbye to our wonderful hosts at the lakeside lodge before we depart this morning to Kerosene Creek – a naturally hot river and the perfect place for a morning soak. Afterwards we’ll drive on to Taupo to see Australasia’s largest lake and the frothy Huka Falls before heading inland to Blue Duck Station for an immersive and off the grid experience. Blue Duck Station is a 7,200-acre high country farm and is the most sustainable high country sheep and cattle station in New Zealand, the team have made it their mission to protect their native environment for its namesake, the rare blue duck. On arrival, we’ll settle in to learn a little about daily life at Blue Duck, the station’s interesting settlement history and their sustainability efforts before cooking some dinner and relaxing around the bonfire.

Accommodation: Country station lodge
Optional paid activities: Skydiving or bungy in Taupo
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner
Free activities: Huka Falls, Spa Park walk Taupo

Day 5: Blue Duck Station

Good news - we have a full free day to explore the station, a ruggedly charming destination that’s as far as we can get from the ocean by road. Options for entertainment today are horseback riding over rolling green hills or a 4WD eco tour through native bush to the ‘Top of the World’ where we can see the three peaks of Mount Ruapehu, Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe. To explore on foot, hike to the Kaiwhakauka waterfall and try to spot a rare blue duck in the flesh. So much to do and a whole day in which to do it - today is about our love affair with this lush kiwi paradise, ah those holiday romances.

Accommodation: Country station lodge
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Included activities: 4WD farm eco-tour
Free activities: Hike to Kaiwhakauka waterfall

Day 6: Blue Duck Station to Ohakune

This morning we’re up nice and early to head straight to Tongariro National Park where we’ll tick off one of the most popular hikes in New Zealand, the epic Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Considered one of the world’s top one-day walks, this 19km hike takes us across a rocky plateau with dramatic volcanic peaks, craters and turquoise lakes that we (and our Instagram feed) will remember for a lifetime. The Crossing is open to walk year-round (alpine gear and guide are required in winter), but it is subject to the weather conditions. If the weather prevents us from doing the Crossing, there are other awesome short-walks in the area. Tonight, we’ll unwind after a big day at our accommodation, the Powderhorn Chateau. Styled like a log cabin, this boutique accommodation is so cosy and even has an indoor heated pool where we can rest our weary bones after our hard days work - after all, we’re on holiday aren’t we?

Accommodation: Powderhorn Chateau or similar
Meals included: Breakfast
Meal options: Local restaurants
Optional activities: Tongariro Crossing

Day 7: Ohakune to Wellington

This morning after breakfast we’re going for a scenic bike ride along the Old Coach Road, an easy but epic 4-hour unguided bike trail. We’ll cycle on a unique cobbled road, past historic Viaducts and limestone cliffs and there’ll be plenty of stops along the way to take photos for the ‘gram. This is a great way to spend a morning learning about New Zealand history and seeing some pretty spectacular views as we go.

Afterwards, we’re heading down to Wellington, the ‘coolest little capital in the world’! Wellington packs a lot of character into its downtown district, with interesting restaurants and bars along Cuba Street and Courtenay Place. We’ll have an afternoon to browse through the exhibits at Te Papa National Museum, grab a craft beer at a brewery, climb to the top of Mt Victoria for panoramic views or take a stroll along the waterfront and Oriental Parade. Oh and, most importantly for those who seek 24/7 caffeination, we are happy to say that Wellington’s coffee culture and cafe scene is considered one of (if not THE) best in New Zealand.

Accommodation: Ibis Wellington or similar
Meals included: Breakfast
Meal options: Local restaurants
Included activity: Electric bike along the historic Old Coach Road
Free activities: Walk Oriental Parade, head up Mt Victoria for fantastic views, visit Te Papa National Museum

Day 8: Wellington to Marahau (Abel Tasman)

We’ll catch an early Bluebridge Ferry across the Cook Strait to the South Island today. If the weather’s good, we’ll be out on the viewing deck where we’ll get some incredible views of the Marlborough Sounds before arriving in Picton and setting 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 9: 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 10: Marahau (Abel Tasman) to Christchurch

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 Greymouth where you’ll say farewell to your Guide and some of your mates and board the TranzAlpine scenic train down to Christchurch. When you arrive, make your way to the Ibis hotel and check-in, if you like you can go for a walk through the cool laneways and explore the creative street art intended to bring cheer and colour to a city once buried in rubble.

Accommodation: Ibis Christchurch or similar
Meals included: Breakfast
Meal options: Local eateries
Included activities: TranzAlpine Train experience
Free activities: Explore Christchurch

Day 11: Depart Christchurch

Today your adventure comes to an end, say goodbye (or see you soon) to any mates you arrived in Christchurch with. 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
- Geyser By Night Experience
- Lake Aniwhenua Cultural Experience & Hangi
- Old Coach Road E-Bike adventure
- Inter-island ferry
- TranzAlpine Train experience

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.

What’s included?

Extra expenses at the destination
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.

Local transport

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).

Additional info

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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