Whilst we’ve been in lockdown, I’ve been reminiscing about the trips I’ve taken, and the sights I’ve seen. In 2018 I was in New Zealand, having the trip of a lifetime. I experienced so many unique things, made friends for life and fell in love with the people, the wildlife and the country.
So I thought I’d share my experiences of Stray New Zealand.
For those who don’t know, Stray Travel is a ‘hop on – hop off‘ style travel network, taking you to places off the beaten track whilst still helping you to tick off those bucket list items. They currently offer tours in South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand – letting you discover their hidden gems and tourist hotspots.
The freedom and flexibility of their ‘hop on – hop off’ tours, and their energetic, passionate tour guides really do help you fulfil the trip of a lifetime.
How Stray Travel Works
So Stray offer a wide variety of travel passes which cover the North Island, the South Island or the entire Country. Their ‘hop on – hop off’ passes are all valid for a year, so you have the choice of spending weeks or months in a certain destination, or just completing your chosen pass in one straight run. They also offer ‘Journey Tours‘ which are set tours, ranging from 7 to 24 days.
Once you’ve booked your chosen pass, you will receive a unique Stray Customer Reference Number, which is your key to using their online booking system (you can also use their Stray Mate App). The system is used to book your transport and plan out your Stray journey. Once you’ve booked your bus, all you need to do is show up at the assigned pick up place and wait for your orange Stray bus (you really can’t miss it).
Stray guarantees you one night’s accommodation at each overnight stop (places where the bus will stop until the next day), as long as you let the driver know. You aren’t required to stay in these Stray preferred accommodations, but it definitely makes life easier if you’re leaving with the bus the next morning! It’s important to note here that the ‘Hop on- Hop off’ tours do not include accommodation or food in their price! Typical shared dorms range anywhere from $23-$35 NZD, however some Stray exclusive destinations are more expensive.
What’s great about travelling with Stray is that they offer discounts on most activities and experiences along the route, including skydives and visits to the Waitomo Glow-Worm Caves and Milford Sound.
Stray: day to day
Most of our Stray days started reasonably early – between 7 and 9 am.
We would leave our location and continue driving on, taking regular stops at sightseeing spots. There is often coffee and toilet stops too, and a reasonable stop for lunch! Lunch stops often double up as a supermarket stop, giving you the opportunity to stock up on food, snacks or whatever takes your fancy to cook at your hostel that night. There are some locations where your Stray guide will cook dinner for your group, and all you need to do is chip in some dollars! These were some of my favourite nights (not just because I didn’t have to cook), but it gives you the opportunity to get to know your fellow travellers and your tour guide too!
You’ll often get to your next location around 5 or 6pm, depending on what time you set off and how many stops you had!
Honestly, your guide will make your trip.
They were some of the most friendliest people I’ve ever met, who always went above and beyond just being our ‘tour guide’!
From cooking dinner, to going out for drinks, or getting you out of a pickle, they are just incredible. And their knowledge of New Zealand and each stop you visit is second to none! Their passion for their jobs and for showing you some of the most unique places in New Zealand just blew me away! Some of my greatest memories of my New Zealand trip were just sat on the bus, hearing about our next location, or chatting to our guide.
Where to Book
You can purchase your pass directly from Stray’s website – you can check that out here.
I booked my pass through Gap 360, a UK based travel company, offering trips across the globe including paid work opportunities, volunteering and around the world trips. I’ve booked a handful of trips with them now, and each time they have been supportive, easy to get in contact with, and so friendly!
On their website, the pass I purchased is called the Kiwi Discovery Pass. This pass is a ‘Hop on – Hop off’ pass which covers the entire Stray Network across both Islands, offering you the opportunity to experience local culture and take part in some unforgettable activities.
I completed the pass in 8 weeks (it can be done in just over 30 days) which was more than enough time for me to tick off everything I wanted to do, from visiting Hobbiton and Cathedral Cove, to watching a rugby match in Wellington, and skydiving over Fox Glacier.
Stray Travel: my Review
Honestly, Stray Travel were incredible.
Their guides who were passionate, kind and knowledgeable; the locations they take you to; the unique Stray accommodations and experiences they offer; the freedom their passes give you.
I had 10 different guides with big personalities, their own take on how they presented information and their own favourite places up and down the country.
I remember getting on my first bus in Auckland, full of nerves, only to be put at ease straight away by our guide.
I arrived in New Zealand – at Stray – knowing no one, having no idea of how my trip would pan out, and having no idea of what I was going to do. But I left with some of the most incredible friends, a lifetime of memories and some new favourite places that I only discovered because Stray strives to take you off the beaten path. To Stray to some place new that tourists don’t often visit.
So if you’re planning a backpacking trip to New Zealand, be sure to check out Stray. I promise you won’t be disappointed.