Off The Beaten Track – Stray

24th August

Today rained and rained and poured some more. We honestly tried to explore Greymouth (despite being told there is not all that much to explore) but the rain horizontally hit our faces continually so we opted to stay in the dorm. As not much happened we’d like to take this opportunity to talk about Stray.

We have, so far, had an excellent experience with Stray bus tour. We booked our pass with very little knowledge about what we would be doing but more taken in by their deals and the fact that the whole ‘travelling’ around part would be taken care of. That of course and their motto ‘Off The Beaten Track’ we could not help but be intrigued.

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Stray is so much more than a bus. A driver will do the trip from Auckland to the South and you can choose to stay on this bus or hop off along the route. As we are spending over 2 months in New Zealand we have chosen to hop off and spend a little more time taking it all in. If you decide to stay on one bus the North and South Island tour takes about 3-4 weeks depending on the package.

Usually there is a bus with a new driver every two days. Accommodation is guaranteed for at least two nights of your stay and the hostels have, so far, been of a high standard whilst not being too pricey.

Stray’s route is set but it seems to cover most of the must see sites, including those that we would never have visited had we been doing it alone, such as the cultural night at Lake Aniwhenua. This is where Stray excels itself. These stops give you a real taste of New Zealand and an insight into their cultures and traditions. Something that no museum could, honestly, portray.

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There is dull moment on Stray, all the drivers are encouraged to be individual and as we have hopped on and off we have had the pleasure of getting to know a few of the drivers. Every day you can book yourself down for an activity and, usually, Stray get discounts on these. There’s normally a walk but other activities include the infamous skydives over Abel Tasman, Lake Taupo and The Glaciers. Also, bone carving, kayaking, glow worm cave abseiling and mountain trekking. Should you rather just take it easy and relax, then go ahead – you are never pressured to take part in anything.

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Some people stick with the same bus all the way. Some, like us, hop on and hop off. There are pros and cons to both. We like staying with a bus in short bursts as it means we never tire of the passengers or the drivers and always leave on a high. During the winter months the maximum on a bus is around 24 and the smallest group we were with was 12. This allowed us to really bond with the group. We had group meals, did most activities together etc.

 

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The drivers are, for the most part, incredibly fun whilst being knowledgeable about their country and give commentary whenever they can. Each driver is different, some demonstrate the famous ‘laid back’ kiwi way of life, whilst others will be the leaders of the party and hype people up (Weeman). But they all show a deep love for their job and their country.

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Without Stray we don’t think we would have had the experience we, so far, have had. To get such a unique insight into New Zealand and being able to meet so many people is what makes travelling so worth while. Cheers Stray and keep up the good work.

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Flo and Tori x

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