All about the The Short South Pass

The "Short South" hop on hop off pass travels in a loop, showcasing the very best of the South Island. It includes our entire South Island travel network without the Far South.

Our mission is to get you off the beaten track amongst authentic local culture and our experienced crew has chosen some incredible and unique destinations to explore for the complete Stray experience!

The Short South Pass Itinerary - 16 days

  • Travel Day Christchurch to Kaikoura
    Haere mai (welcome)! Your Stray adventure kicks off in the South Island’s largest city, Christchurch. We stop briefly to do pick-ups and drop-offs at the Christchurch International Airport as we depart early this morning for a beautiful drive up the coast to Kaikoura. Arriving in Kaikoura around midday, you will have the afternoon free for activities to experience the incredible marine world just off shore. Get out on the water and experience one of Kaikoura’s famous dolphin and whale spotting tours, see seals sitting right beside the road at Goose Bay or wander around the peninsula and check out the breathtaking views from the lookout. Accommodation: Warm modern hostel Optional paid activities: Whale watching by boat or by plane, swimming with dolphins, guided fishing trip Free activities: Walk around the peninsula and up to the lookout
    Meal(s) included : None
  • Travel Day Kaikoura to Picton
    Leaving Kaikoura in the morning we wind our way up the rugged coastal roads towards the top of the South Island. For those that choose to hop off in the port town of Picton, check out the Queen Charlotte Sound view walk and take advantage of the free fishing gear and pushbikes at the Picton accommodation. There are plenty of short walks to enjoy around the township and waterfront, such as the Queen Charlotte Sound view walk. Feel free to unwind this evening in the spa pool at the accommodation. Accommodation: Cosy villa in Picton Free activities: Queen Charlotte sound walk, fishing, biking around town, relax in the accommodation’s spa pool.
    Meal(s) included : None
  • Travel Day Picton to Marahau (Abel Tasman)
    Enjoy a leisurely morning getting to know charming Picton. You’ll meet your Stray group at the accommodation at midday. Once on the bus, we’ll cruise through the world-famous Marlborough vineyard area and, depending on the groups interest, we may stop for a wine tasting to sample the region’s specialty Sauvignon Blanc 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 overnight destination 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
    Meal(s) included : None
  • 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 use this free day to hike, 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 Free activities: Walk in the national park, relax on one of the golden sand beaches, go for a swim
    Meal(s) included : None
  • Travel Day Marahau (Abel Tasman) to Franz Josef
    Buckle up for a awesome day driving down the incredibly scenic ‘wild’ West Coast, an area known for its untamed beaches and spectacular rainforest. We’ll pass through Buller Gorge and down a stretch of road that was labelled one of the top ten drives in the world by Lonely Planet. We’ll take a walk along the craggy cliffs at Cape Foulwind to view the seal colony before continuing further down the coast to the geographic wonder of Punakaiki’s Pancake Rocks and blowholes. Here we’ll take a walk around these unique limestone rock formations and stop for a bite of lunch. Our next stop is the historic gold mining town of Greymouth to collect passengers connecting from Christchurch. From here we’ll make one last stop via Hokitika (the best place to buy ‘Pounami’, a native greenstone) before continuing onto the quaint township of Franz Josef, home of the mighty Franz Josef Glacier where we’ll spend the next two nights. Accommodation: Lodge in the middle of the rainforest Free activities: Buller Gorge, Cape Foulwind Seal Colony, Pancake Rocks and Blow holes, Hokitika greenstone store
    Meal(s) included : None
  • Travel Day Franz Josef
    Enjoy a free day to get out and experience the Franz Josef Glacier, an iconic 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 consistently ranks as a favourite activity amongst Stray travellers. The most popular trip features a short heli-hop onto the glacier with a guided educational tour on the ice and includes entry to the hot pools afterwards. Other options include visiting the glacial terminal face for some spectacular photos or doing one of the many excellent bush hikes in the region. Accommodation: Lodge in the middle of the rainforest Optional paid activities: Glacier heli-hike (entry to hot pools included), kayaking, skydiving Free activities: Many excellent bush hikes (we recommend a guided one for safety), relax in one of NZ’s largest spa pools at your accommodation
    Meal(s) included : None
  • 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 to stretch our legs with a short walk. Then, 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 along the way 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 Free activities: Lake Matheson walk, Ship Creek walk, Blue Pools walk, Thunder Creek Falls walk
    Meal(s) included : None
  • Travel Day Wanaka to Queenstown
    Kick start your day with a brisk walk up Mt Iron, an early morning skydive or learn to fly a stunt plane over Wanaka. At mid-morning we’ll pack up and 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 on our way into town at Kawarau Bridge, the first commercial bungy jumping site in the world, for your chance to take the big leap of faith. Queenstown offers an optional big (make that huge!) night out with plenty of excellent restaurants, pubs and live music to check out. Accommodation: Central hostel close to all the action Optional paid activities: Puzzling World, skydiving, mountain biking, pilot your own stunt plane or learn to fly and take a friend for free, bungy jumping Free activities: Walk Mt Iron, watch people jumping off a bridge!
    Meal(s) included : None
  • Travel Day Queenstown
    You need at least one free day in Queenstown to make the most of the wide range of activities on offer. With a buzzy night life, beautiful mountain scenery and an exciting outdoor lifestyle, it’s easy to understand why Stray passengers often hop off here to spend extra time exploring. Options include: bungy or swing, zipline tours, canyoning, jet boating, skiing, skydiving, local bush walks, or just spend a day relaxing and enjoying the stunning scenery. 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: Fabulous walks, take in beautiful views from this cool resort town
    Meal(s) included : None
  • 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), stargazing
    Meal(s) included : None
  • Travel Day Mt Cook (via Tekapo) to Rangitata
    Leaving Mt 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 Rangitata Peel Forest. Tonight, we’ll stay in one of Canterbury’s original sheep stations. Accommodation: One of Canterbury’s original sheep stations Optional paid activities: Tekapo Hot Springs, Ice skating (April-Sept), Snow tubing (June-Sept) Free activities: Visit Lake Tekapo, Mt John observatory walk, Rangitata forest walks
    Meal(s) included : None
    Day 12 : Rangitata to Christchurch
    This morning, you will have the opportunity to sign up to a top-notch grade 5 white water rafting experience on Rangitata River, nestled under the foot of the Southern Alps or to explore the stunning Peel Forest scenery on horseback. Today marks the end of your Stray trip as we arrive in Christchurch - a city where old meets new, as an enormous rebuild continues following the devastating 2011 Earthquake. You will find some of New Zealand’s most modern architecture nestled next to some of the oldest with streets and lanes decorated in creative street art intended to bring cheer and colour to a city once buried in rubble. If you have free time in Christchurch, you can explore the city or get involved in one of the activities on offer. We hope you had a blast on your Stray adventure! Optional paid activities: Rangitata rafting, horse trekking Free activities: Explore Christchurch by foot check out the Re-Start Mall, Cardboard Cathedral and inner-city street art
    Meal(s) included : None
  • Travel Day Rangitata to Christchurch
    This morning, you will have the opportunity to sign up to a top-notch grade 5 white water rafting experience on Rangitata River, nestled under the foot of the Southern Alps or to explore the stunning Peel Forest scenery on horseback. Today marks the end of your Stray trip as we arrive in Christchurch - a city where old meets new, as an enormous rebuild continues following the devastating 2011 Earthquake. You will find some of New Zealand’s most modern architecture nestled next to some of the oldest with streets and lanes decorated in creative street art intended to bring cheer and colour to a city once buried in rubble. If you have free time in Christchurch, you can explore the city or get involved in one of the activities on offer. We hope you had a blast on your Stray adventure! Optional paid activities: Rangitata rafting, horse trekking Free activities: Explore Christchurch by foot check out the Re-Start Mall, Cardboard Cathedral and inner-city street art
    Meal(s) included : None
Real Adventure Group 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 Short South Pass Price information
NZD per person

Price

Description

Tour code: WILLY
$805
Adult

Departure information

Starts

Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays from Christchurch

Minimum days: 12-14
Recommended days: 15

Ends
Christchurch


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.

Non-travel days vary depending on departure day

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Want to concentrate on the South Island? The "Big South" is for you – whether you have 2-3 weeks or 12 months, this includes our full South Island travel network.

Start and finish in Christchurch, the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and depart to only see the South Island on this pass that covers the east coast and west coast of the island and all the way to top and bottom.