All about the The Ron Pass

Want to concentrate on the South Island? The "Ron" is for you – whether you have 2-3 weeks or 12 months, this includes our full South Island travel network. Here at Real Kiwi Adventures we recommend at least 2-3 weeks to get the most out of your trip and to allow some time to hop-off and explore your favourite destinations for longer.

With this pass you’ll get to spend time in Queenstown – The Adventure Capital, the West Coast (home of the famous glaciers), and time in the stunning Abel Tasman National Park. Your pass gets you a driver guide who will ensure you see the best bits of the South Island and helps you book accommodation along the way. 

 

The Ron Pass Itinerary - 15 days

  1. Travel Day Christchurch to Picton
    Haere mai (welcome)! We stop briefly to do pick-ups and drop-offs at the Christchurch International Airport as we depart Christchurch early 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 Picton, a picturesque town nestled on the edge of the stunning Marlborough Sounds. Feel free to unwind this evening in the spa pool at the accommodation.
    Accommodation: Cosy villa.
    Free activities: Relax in the accommodation’s spa pool.
  2. Travel Day Free day in Picton
    You have a full free day in Picton to discover the charms of the Marlborough Sounds. Take the opportunity to go swimming with wild dolphins in the scenic Sounds, or we highly recommend catching a water taxi to walk or mountain bike a section of the unbelievably beautiful Queen Charlotte Track. There are shorter walks to enjoy around the Picton township, such as the Queen Charlotte Sound view walk. Alternatively, you can take advantage of the free fishing gear and bikes at your Picton accommodation.
    Accommodation: Cosy villa.
    Optional paid activities: Swim with dolphins, water taxi to the Queen Charlotte Track.
    Free activities: Queen Charlotte Sound view walk, go fishing, biking around town.
  3. Travel Day Picton to Marahau (Abel Tasman)
    Enjoy a leisurely morning because today you’ll meet your Stray group at the accommodation at midday. 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: Walk, mussel tasting around the fire, stargazing.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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!
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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).
  14. 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).
  15. 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.
Real Kiwi Real People
Real Kiwi Says:
Hop off the bus anywhere along the route, even places in between the designated stops. Plan to hop off in advance or do it spur of the moment – it’s up to you! To hop back on, simply book your next travel dates and pickup location through Stray Mate. The buses run on a regular timetable with multiple departures a week. Passes are valid for up to 12 months from your first day of travel, meaning you can hop off and on as many times as you like for up to a year! Short on time? You are not required to hop off the bus – feel free to use your pass like a tour and complete the itinerary in its ‘minimum days’.

The Ron Pass Price information
NZD per person

Price

Description

$1035
Adult

Departure information

Starts

Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from Christchurch or from Picton on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays

Minimum days: 15-18
Recommended days: 3 weeks

Ends
Christchurch


More information

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Budget
Spend two days in Queenstown

The Willy Pass

"Willy" travels in a loop, showcasing the very best of the South Island. It includes our entire South Island travel network without the Far South.

This pass starts in Christchurch you will travel up the east coast to Kaikoura for whale watching and then head to Abel Tasman national park before heading down the west coast of the Island to Franz Josef glacier country. You'll travel as far south as Queenstown before heading back to Christchurch via the Rangitata River in Canterbury.