All aboard the Stray bus!

Posted on December 24, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

So, in order to travel the South Island we bought passes for a seat on Stray {LINK}, which is kind of like the hop-on-hop-off buses that you get in cities, except it's for all of New Zealand. As part of the package they arrange accomodation for you from a preferred list (which, when you've been doing it almost constantly for 3 months, is kind of a draw!), and have suggested activities along the way. There are several companies that offer this and all have different passes that cover different parts of the country. We chose Stray for several reasons; it seemed like it was less geared towards the drinking culture than some of the comanies, the price was surmountable, and they offered a pass that went where we wanted to. Also, our friends Richard, Andy and Lucie recommended it (Thanks guys!). We were a little anxious that it might be a little too 18-30s cultured for us; we would soon find out.

This is our bus:

James, I and one other person were picked up in Greymouth, joining a bus of 20 or so people that were all seasoned travellers on Stray. Honey (our driver-guide) introduced us on the mike and told us to come up to the front, introduce ourselves and tell a joke or sing a song, as it was a Honey-bus tradition. James told a joke and was his usual witty self. I on the other hand couldn't remember a joke and so was left with the singing option. Honey insisted I sing in Irish, and the only song I could remember in Irish (at the time, I can remember several now!) was the National Anthem. Uh huh. So within 5 minutes of meeting all these people I was belting out Amhran na Fhiann. Oh, and to add to it all, it wasn't a tradition, it was just a wee joke on us. Ahem.

But I do the trip a disservice. It turns out that Stray is awesome. Honey was a brilliant driver-guide, full of anecdotes and informative tit-bits, and funny as hell. Our fellow compatriots were top guys and gals to a man (or woman). Here be a terrible photo of some of them in an excellent bar in Queenstown:

Each night there was a choice of accomodation to cater all pockets and sensibilities. There were myriad activities but you never once felt obliged to do any of them, and many of them had discounts available as we were Stray travellers. You could hop on and off as many times as you wanted (and indeed, although we have now done the whole of our chosen circuit we can do it again, as many times as we like, for the next 12 months) and stay extra time in any spots you took a liking to.

So we travelled from Christchurch to Greymouth with another company (arranged by Stray), went along the West Coast through Hokitika and Franz Josef, through Haast, Makarora and Wanaka, along to Queenstown and back up to Christchurch. We'll save the highlights of the tour for the next post but I can reveal it includes glaciers, hot pools, A frame huts, views and vistas to die for, luges and teapots.
I'll say no more.

Posted via email from dreadpiratesarcas


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