All about the The Maximus Pass

On this Maximus pass over 4 to 5 weeks in New Zealand the mission is to get you off the beaten track. This will be done by getting you amongst authentic local culture and our experienced crew has chosen some incredible and unique destinations to explore for the complete Stray experience!

Highlights include a stay at Hahei beach, an idyllic spot in the Coromandel, within walking distance to Cathedral Cove, staying at an eco-lodge, built in native bush in Raglan – overlooking New Zealand’s black sand, premier surf beach. You will spend two nights at Blue Duck Station, an award-winning conservation farm and get hands-on with some wilderness activities! Discover history and culture not yet touched by the hand of commercialism at Lake Aniwhenua - it's also your chance to try a traditionally cooked hangi dinner. Stay right on the beachfront on the golden sands at the edge of Abel Tasman National Park. See the stunning fiord of Milford Sound and stay at historic Gunn’s Camp and stay at the base of New Zealand's highest mountain, Mount Cook/Aoraki.

The hop on hop off pass is flexible and valid for 12 months from your start date. You can pay as you go for accommodation and activities.

The Maximus Pass Itinerary - 30 days

  1. Travel Day Auckland to Paihia
    Haere mai (welcome)! Your Stray adventure kicks off in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland. We depart northbound for the relaxed seaside town of Paihia, gateway to the beautiful Bay of Islands. We stop en-route for a chance to swim at scenic Waipu Cove, before cruising up to Paihia for a relaxing afternoon in the stunning Bay. If the weather is unsuitable for a stop at Waipu, we will visit the Parry Kauri Forest Park to hug some of the world’s mightiest trees, the native kauri, on our way to Paihia.
    *Winter only: We stop to hug the kauri trees at Parry Kauri Forest Park, then express to Paihia. Accommodation: Hostel along from the beach.
    Optional paid activities: Catch the ferry to historic Russell (NZ’s former capital), skydiving, Hole in the Rock cruise, kayaking.
    Free activities: Swim at Waipu Cove (summer only), tree hugging huge kauri trees at Parry Kauri Forest (wet weather/winter option).
  2. Travel Day Paihia to Cape Reinga to Paihia
    It’s an early start as we head for the very top of New Zealand along a long stretch of sand known as 90 Mile Beach. We’ll stop at Te Paki Stream for a chance to try dune surfing on some of the biggest sand dunes in New Zealand, then carry on to Cape Reinga. This spot overlooks the meeting place where the Tasman and Pacific Oceans clash and, as legend has it, is the departure point for Maori souls leaving New Zealand to go back to their spiritual homeland of Hawaiki.
    NB. You cannot hop off the bus this day.
    Accommodation: Hostel along the beach in Paihia.
    Optional paid activities: Traditional Kiwi fish and chips option for dinner.
    Free activities: Dune surfing.
  3. Travel Day Paihia to Auckland
    Enjoy a sleep in and morning at your leisure. Sail or cruise around the Bay, walk to nearby Haruru Falls or just hang out on the beach. Mid-afternoon we jump back on board the Stray bus, destined for the bright lights of Auckland.
    Accommodation: Central Auckland hostel.
    Optional paid activities: Sailing, swimming with dolphins, kayaking, fishing.
    Free activities: Walk around Paihia or Haruru Falls, go for a swim or relax on the beach.
  4. Travel Day Auckland to Hahei
    We depart Auckland and head south, travelling to the Coromandel Peninsula via the old colonial town of Thames*. The Coromandel Peninsula, which is renowned for its natural beauty and pristine swimming beaches, is the perfect place to kick back and relax for a couple days. We’ll get settled into our beachside accommodation in Hahei before heading over to Hot Water Beach (tidal dependent). This is an absolute ‘must do’ experience where you can dig your own natural spa bath in the sand and soak up the Coromandel surrounds. Tonight you have the option to join a group dinner for a classic Kiwi BBQ.
    * If you came to NZ looking for adventure, we recommend hopping off in Thames to go canyoning in the Sleeping God Canyon, one of the most exciting and challenging activities on offer. It’s not for the faint hearted!
    Accommodation: Exclusive Stray accommodation by the waterfront.
    Optional paid activities: Canyoning in Sleeping God Canyon* (hop off in Thames)
    Free activities: Visit Hot Water Beach for a natural beach spa (tide & weather dependent), walk to Cathedral Cove, explore old cultural sites or simply relax on the beach.
  5. Travel Day Hahei
    Today you have a full free day to embrace the laid back lifestyle that makes this area such a popular NZ holiday destination. Make the most of this special place by taking a scenic walk or kayak to the nearby Cathedral Cove, a paradise-like beach that you might recognize from one of the Narnia films. If you prefer water sports, the coast off Hahei is part of the protected Te-Whanganui-a-Hei Marine Reserve, which is a prime place to go scuba diving, snorkelling or take a glass bottom boat tour.
    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.
  6. Travel Day Hahei to Raglan
    We leave Hahei early to travel to the mighty Waikato region. First up is a little adventure into Bridal Veil Falls, where a short walk through beautiful native bush leads to an impressive cascading waterfall. Our destination today is at the world-renowned surf town of Raglan. There’s no better place to learn to surf; but if you don’t fancy a splash in the waves, the afternoon is free to watch the surfers from the beach or enjoy a bush walk. Chill out or go hard in this arty surf town.
    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.
  7. Travel Day Raglan (via Waitomo) to Rotorua
    Departing early, our first stop on route to Rotorua is at Waitomo, a small rural town where its main attraction is in fact underground. Don’t miss out on the opportunity for a seriously cool caving adventure that will have you wading, climbing, abseiling and tubing through Waitomo’s magnificent cave network. From here we continue on to Rotorua where you have the opportunity to make this a 10/10 day with a visit the world famous Hobbiton Movie Set. Explore the hills, gardens and houses that were home to Frodo and Bilbo in Peter Jackson’s epic trilogies. Those not interested in Hobbiton will continue on to Rotorua and be joined by the Hobbiton goers early evening.
    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
  8. Travel Day Rotorua to Lake Aniwhenua
    We depart at midday, leaving the morning free to get involved in one of the many adventure activities on offer in Rotorua. This afternoon our trip takes us further off the beaten track into the remote area of Lake Aniwhenua, voted as one of Stray’s top overnight stops. As we drive into the Kaingaroa Forest we will meet up with a respected Maori elder who will guide the group to a sacred archaeological site to view some of NZ’s oldest Maori rock carvings. As we approach the small township we will visit the local Marae (a Maori meeting house), where we will receive a traditional welcome and spend time learning about the Maori’s cultural beliefs, song and dance while sharing some ‘kai’ (afternoon tea). Tonight while staying in the tranquil oasis of Kohutapu Lodge, you will learn how to cook a traditional ‘Hangi’ (a feast cooked underground). Opt into one of the many activities on offer or simply enjoy a sunset drink at the Taniwha Bar overlooking the lake. You will be both touched and inspired as you learn about the beneficial community program to which Stray travellers are contributing.
    Unique 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
  9. Travel Day Lake Aniwhenua to Whakahoro
    After breakfast we’ll depart to drop lunch off at a nearby school as part of an inspiring community project that brightens the lives of local school children (dependent on school timetable and holiday schedule). Then it’s on to Taupo to visit mighty Huka Falls with the option to plunge from a plane on an adrenaline fuelled skydive over NZ’s largest lake! Our destination this evening is regularly rated by passengers as one of Stray’s #1 overnight stops and you’ll soon see why. Located in Whakahoro, one of the most remote parts of the North Island, Blue Duck Station is a sprawling 7,200 acre high country farm that is both a working station and an environmental conservation leader. Once you arrive, settle in to learn a little about daily life at Blue Duck, then relax and chill out around an evening fire.
    Accommodation: Country station lodge.
    Optional paid activities: Taupo: skydiving, bungy.
    Free activities: Huka Falls, Spa Road walk.
  10. Travel Day Whakahoro
    Today is yours to fully explore this incredible location. Jump on a 4WD and travel up farm roads, over hilly peaks and through native bush to learn about the station’s interesting settlement history and their current conservation efforts. Don your cowboy hat and explore the farm by horseback or kayak on the river through bush clad valleys and lush green hills. Visit the Kaiwhakauka waterfall or assist with the farm’s pest control efforts and bring back tonight’s dinner.
    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.
  11. Travel Day Whakahoro to National Park
    We’ll be up at the crack of dawn for an early departure to make our way to the UNESCO Dual World Heritage Site, Tongariro National Park. Today you get the chance to do what is rated as one of the world’s top ten one-day walks and a definite NZ ‘must do’: the epic Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Trek through dramatic natural scenery, past volcanic peaks, vast craters and stunning turquoise lakes on one of the most spectacular walks in New Zealand. The Crossing is open to walk year round (alpine gear and guide are required in winter), but subject to the weather conditions.
    Accommodation: Alpine lodge.
    Optional paid activities: The Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
    Free activities: Taranaki Falls walk, visit the Volcanic Centre, Tawhai Falls (Gollum’s pool).
  12. Travel Day National Park to Wellington
    After breakfast we head around the mountains via the rural towns of Ohakune, Taihape and Bulls towards the bottom of the North Island. Today is mostly an express day to get to Wellington, our capital city and home to New Zealand’s parliament and the iconic Beehive government building. Also known as the ‘coolest little capital in the world’ thanks to Lonely Planet, Wellington is a great place to check out the lively arts, craft beer and café culture scenes or do some shopping. The afternoon is yours to explore the sights, and we recommend wandering down Oriental Parade or visiting Te Papa National Museum.
    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.
  13. Travel Day Wellington to Marahau (Abel Tasman)
    We catch an early Bluebridge Ferry across the Cook Strait to the South Island where you meet the Stray bus in Picton. Once on the bus, we cruise through the world famous Marlborough vineyard area and, depending on the group, may stop for a bit of wine tasting before heading to the coastal town of Nelson. We make a supermarket stop in Motueka to stock up on supplies for the next couple days and then make our way to our amazing and remote overnight stop Marahau, right on the edge of the spectacular Abel Tasman National Park.
    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.
  14. Travel Day Marahau (Abel Tasman)
    With a full day at your leisure, don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore this stunning, coastal national park on foot, by sea or from the air. Abel Tasman is famous for being one of the sunniest spots in New Zealand and, as home to one of NZ’s Great Walks, is a popular place to hop off for hiking enthusiasts. Even those short on time can still kayak, sail or take a water taxi to get a taste of the park’s natural golden sand beaches and brilliant blue waters.
    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.
  15. Travel Day Marahau (Abel Tasman) to Westport
    Today we head south towards the ‘wild’ West Coast passing through Buller Gorge and down a stretch of road that was recently rated one of the top ten drives in the world by Lonely Planet. We stop for a walk 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 paid activities: Surfing, caving, craft brewery tour.
    Free activities: Westport seal colony, West Coast sunset, Truman Track walk.
  16. Travel Day Westport to Franz Josef
    An early start takes us further down the rugged West Coast to the spectacular limestone Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and blowholes. We’ll stop to take a short walk around these unique rock formations before we head for the historic gold mining town, Greymouth. We do pick-ups in Greymouth and make a stop in Hokitika on our way 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: Save some coin today!
    Free activities: Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and the mighty blowholes, walk along the beach.
  17. Travel Day Franz Josef
    Enjoy a free day to get out and experience the Franz Josef Glacier, a true highlight of the West Coast. The best way to navigate the maze of ice and explore the incredible landscape on the Franz Josef Glacier is with a guided tour, which always ranks as a favourite activity amongst Stray travellers. Other options include visiting the glacial terminal face for some spectacular photos or one of the many excellent bush hikes in the region.
    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.
  18. Travel Day Franz Josef to Wanaka
    It’s time to leave the West Coast behind - we stop in the morning for pick-ups at Fox Glacier before heading to the amazing mirror-like Lake Matheson. We’ll travel inland through the mountainous Haast Pass and Makarora towards Wanaka. This is one of the most scenic drives you’ll ever do and we’ll stop for plenty of photo ops as we drive from rainforests to mountains, through beech forest and past great lakes. We’ll pass by the beautiful Lake Hawea and arrive in Wanaka late-afternoon in time to enjoy this picturesque lakeside town.
    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.
  19. Travel Day Wanaka to Queenstown
    We depart around mid-morning, giving you time to check out amazing views of the lake either by skydiving or taking a walk up Mt Iron. Then, we cruise along to Queenstown, known in New Zealand as the ‘Adventure Capital of the World’ and the spiritual home of bungy jumping! We stop on our way into town at Kawarau Bridge, the first commercial bungy jumping site, for your chance to take the big plunge. Queenstown offers an optional big (make that huge!) night out with lots of excellent restaurants, pubs and live music to check out.
    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!
  20. Travel Day Queenstown
    You need at least one free day in Queenstown to make the most of the range of activities on offer, but it’s also a great place to hop off and spend extra time no matter what you choose to do. Options include: bungy or swing, zipline tours, canyoning, jet boating, skiing, skydiving and local bush walks, or just enjoy the stunning scenery and do nothing.
    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.
  21. Travel Day 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.
  22. Travel Day 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.
  23. Travel Day 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).
  24. Travel Day 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).
  25. Travel Day 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.
  26. Travel Day 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.
  27. Travel Day 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.
  28. Travel Day Wellington (via Taupo) to Auckland
    We depart in the early morning. This is an express day via National Park 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 New Zealand adventure!
Real Kiwi Real People
Real Kiwi Says:
This pass route is a loop, which means you can start and finish anywhere you would like. We recommend at least 5 weeks to get the most out of your trip and to allow some time to hop-off and explore your favourite destinations for longer. Included in this Maximus Hop on Hop off pass is your bus transport – Travel in comfort and stay connected on Stray’s WiFi enabled private buses. Driver-guide - Far more than just a driver, your tour guide is an invaluable source of local knowledge and will assist you with booking activities and accommodation on your behalf. Plus reserved accommodation – Have a bed reserved for you at every Stray overnight stop. Book through your Driver and pay-as-you-go directly to the accommodation.

The Maximus Pass Price information
NZD per person

Price

Description

$1725
Adult
$999
Special offer. Book between 11 Aug - 30 Aug 2017. Passes purchased as ‘Travel anytime’ must commence travel within 12 months of purchase.

Departure information

Starts

This tour can start anywhere and finish where you start.

Minimum days: 28- 31

Recommended days: 5+ weeks

Ends
Auckland


More information

Important Notes

Things you need to know about this tour

Travel pass which covers the entire Stray route - Stray is NOT an A to B bus service- Stray makes stops along the way to show you amazing things, like a beautiful waterfall, short scenic walk, local food tasting or breathtaking views
Ultimate travel flexibility – your pass is valid for up to 12 months from your first day of travel, so hop on and off as many times as you like
Driver Guide to provide invaluable knowledge, support and local insight and to assist with booking accommodation and activities at every destination (pay-as-you-go) - your first night's accommodation at each stop is always guaranteed.
Comfortable wifi-enabled transport on Stray's private buses

Non travel days vary depending on departure day

 

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