You can start and finish in Auckland, Christchurch or any other place around the circuit. You need about 4 weeks and it's an excellent way to really get to see and experience all of what NZ has to offer - the North of the North to the deep South! As always the longer you have the better so you can get off at your favourite places for a few more days (or weeks!).
All about the The Jill Pass
Want to concentrate on the North Island? The "Jill" is ideal for you – whether you have 2 weeks or 12 months, as it includes almost all of the North Island, with the exception of the Bay of Islands.
This pass also includes travel down to New Zealand's capital city - Wellington. You'll get to experience the beachside town of Raglan, the volcanoes of the Central Plateau, Rotorua, Taupo and more on this flexible hop on hop off bus pass.
Highlights include chill out on the beach or learn to surf in Raglan, New Zealand's epic little surf town, experience Maori culture on an exclusive overnight stop at a Marae, get way off the beaten track at the Blue Duck Station, an incredible spot on the edge of the Wanganui National Park, check out the North Island's top spots of Rotorua and Taupo, experience the culture and coffee of New Zealand's capital city, Wellington.
Our knowledgable guides will help get you around the country and tell you everything you need to know about New Zealand.
The Jill Pass Itinerary - 10 days
Auckland to Hahei
Haere mai (welcome)! Your Stray adventure kicks off in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland. 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.
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.
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.
Raglan (via Waitomo) to Rotorua
Departing early, our first stop on route to Rotorua is at Waitomo, a small rural town where it’s 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 Ruaruri Reserve, Waitomo Valley Caves walk
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 Stray 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
Lake Aniwhenua to Whakahoro
After breakfast we’ll depart to drop lunch packs 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.
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.
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).
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.
Wellington (via National Park) 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 Stray adventure!
Tuesdays, Wednesdays (Summer only), Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from Auckland
Minimum days: 8
Recommended days: 10
Important NotesThings 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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