10 Reasons To Go Guided This Summer

go guided this summer

1. We do all the planning.
Not everyone wants to spend hours poring over maps and guide books. Book a guided tour and all you have to do is turn up and ride.

2. You’ll see all the best bits … plus those lesser-known locations you’d find impossible to discover on your own.
Every route we offer has been carefully designed to show you the best scenery, sights and excursions. 

3. You won’t get lost.
Cycling alongside you will be your knowledgeable, friendly tour guide. Your guide will provide local insight, mechanical support and encouragement … and ensure the snacks are ready and waiting during refreshment stops.

4. Ride luggage-free.
We’ll ensure your bags are safely delivered to your next overnight stop. 

5. Take a break from the bike at any time.
A support vehicle will always be on hand to give you a rest from the saddle, or shuttle you up the steep bits.

6. We cater for different riding abilities.
Each trip we offer is rated for overall difficulty, based on the daily distances and the terrain covered. Easy tours are suitable for people who just want to ride, relax and enjoy the scenery. They cover lower distances per day – around 40 to 50 km – over relatively flat terrain. Moderate tours cover longer daily distances – around 50 to 80 km – with more hills. Challenging tours can cover over 100 km a day, across rolling (and sometimes steep) terrain with repeated climbs. 

7. Kick back and relax each night at carefully-selected, comfortable accommodation.
You could stay at a castle, or on a boat on Milford Sound.

8. Most meals are included.
These vary between shared, family-style dinners at the end of the day, big lunches at scenic spots along the route, and opportunities to dine independently and discover local cafes and restaurants. 

9. Top-quality gear.
We have the largest selection of premium quality bikes and gear in New Zealand to ensure your bike suits your journey and ability level, and is comfortable to ride.

10. It’ll be fun!

Check out the full list of guided tours on our website. And if you’ve got any questions, drop us an email.

Have a good week,
Steve


Meet Natural High’s Newest Team Member

Meet Natural High’s new Operations Assistant Manager, Kirke Ranson, who works in our Christchurch branch. Kirke hails from the small town of Paraparaumu on the Kapiti Coast.

What first got you into riding?
First got into mountain biking about 10 years ago doing adventure racing. Fell in love riding single trail and haven’t looked back! I enjoy mostly riding a mountain bike. Getting out on a trail and feeling the flow is unbeatable.

Favourite ride?
Riding in the Redwoods Forest in Rotorua is pretty special. A vast amount of trails and amazing loam soil makes for epic fast-flowing rides.

Best spot for after-biking drinks?
Anywhere you can share a beer and a good yarn about the ride.

What do you like to do when you’re not riding?
I love getting out in the wilderness for hikes or riding my snowboard when there is snow on the hills.

Do you have any must-do rides or destinations?
There’s plenty of new stuff in the area that I have to check out. Would love to get up to Wairoa Gorge in Nelson.

Images: Courtesy of Kirke Ranson.


The Deep South Is Calling!

Looking to experience the remoter side of New Zealand? The 7 day Queenstown to Christchurch road tour takes you deep into rural South Island life where quiet roads, isolated bays and windswept coastlines await.

Trip highlights:

  • Meander alongside the beautiful lakes of Te Anau and Manapouri.
  • Cycle the rugged Catlins coastline, home to fur seals, Hector’s dolphins and yellow-eyed penguins.
  • Walk to Mclean Falls and Cathedral Caves.
  • Challenge yourself on the rolling hills of the breathtaking Otago Peninsula.
  • Visit the only mainland breeding colony of northern royal albatross in the world.

This tour is graded moderate. You will need to be a competent road rider and should be able to cycle comfortably for up to 4–6 hours or around 80km/50miles per day. There are some long undulating and hilly sections.

Accommodation, most meals and daily luggage transfer are included. You’ll also have the luxury of being able to hop aboard the support vehicle should you feel like a breather at any point.

The December tour departs from Queenstown on 6 December 2019. Get in touch today to secure your place. We’ve also got departures running throughout the summer – check the website for details.


Hidden Gems: The Whirinaki

Mountain bikers flock in droves to ride the trails of Rotorua, but head a little further south and you’ll find the Whirinaki Te Pua-a-Tāne Conservation Park, home to ancient forests and two, lesser-known mountain bike trails.

Where
90km southeast of Rotorua, off Te Whaiti Rd, via SH38. You can access the park through Minginui village and up River Road to the River Road car park.

Why go
The park stretches across 56 hectares and is one of the best remaining examples of lowland podocarp forest left in New Zealand. In the 1980s the forest was the site of one of New Zealand’s biggest conservation battles, as activists sought to protect the ancient trees from continued deforestation. Today, it’s co-governed by the Department of Conservation and local iwi Ngāti Whare.

Trails and ability level
For less experienced riders, the Whirinaki Mountain Bike Track provides an easy introduction to backcountry riding. The full track is 16km long and takes around two to four hours to complete. You can also choose to ride shorter sections. The inner loop is a grade two, while the outer loop is a grade three.

For a more adventurous forest experience, hit up the Moerangi Mountain Bike Track. This 35km, grade three ride incorporates several hilly sections and takes around five to six hours to complete. Three huts situated along the route provide great rest spots, or stay the night and turn the ride into an overnight trip.

What to see
Podocarps up to 65 metres tall and reaching three metres wide. Beautiful river flats and rolling hills and gullies. Large populations of native birds including kākā and robin. Staying overnight in a hut will enable you to hear the night animals, such as ruru/morepork, wētā and kiwi.

Like to ride the Whirinaki? We can hook you up with bike hire, or combine bike hire and campervan hire for the ultimate road trip.

Have a great week,
Steve


Got Cycling Plans For December?

queenstown to wanaka road rideIf you’re looking to squeeze in an adventure before the end of the year, check out the 6 day Queenstown to Christchurch road tour. This fully guided tour takes in primal rainforests, the icy wonders of the Fox Glacier, and the dramatic coastal scenery of the West Coast.

Trip highlights 

  • Cruise the twists and turns of the wild West Coast.
  • Pit yourself against the Crown Range, New Zealand’s highest road.
  • Swoop down Haast Pass on quiet sealed roads.
  • Visit Hokitika, craft capital of the West Coast and home to local green stone (pounamu).
  • Sit back and admire the view from the TranzAlpine train as you cross the Southern Alps on your return to Christchurch.

This tour is graded moderate to challenging. You will need to be a competent road rider with a good level of fitness. You should be able to cycle comfortably for up to 6-8 hours or around 100km/60miles per day, with some extended uphill ascents.

The tour includes all accommodation, most meals and daily luggage transfer. You’ll also have the luxury of being able to hop aboard the support vehicle should you feel like a breather at any point.

Our December tour departs from Queenstown on 6 December 2019. Get in touch today to secure your place. We’ve also got departures running throughout the summer – check out the website for details.

Have a good week,

Steve


Hidden Gems: The Motu Trails

Where
The eastern Bay of Plenty on the North Island, home to beautiful beaches and a gentle pace of life. The little coastal town of Opotiki makes a good base for exploring the trails.

What’s on offer
Three different trails, suitable for a variety of riding abilities. The Dunes Trail is an easy, 22km return ride perfect for beginners and families. It starts from Opotiki and follows the coastline to Jackson Road. 

The Motu Road Trail is a 67km one-way ride, suitable for intermediate bikers. It runs from Jackson Road to Matawai – connect with the Dunes Trail to start or finish your ride in Opotiki. You can ride in either direction, but there are more downhill sections if you start in Matawai. This track offers a great introduction to backcountry riding, without having to venture too far into the wilderness.

The Pakihi Track is for advanced riders only, and runs one-way only from Motu Road to Opotiki (44km). It runs through native forest before following the twists of the Pakihi River. Watch out for steep drops to the sides of the track. You can return to Opotiki via gravel and rural roads.

Combine all three rides for 91km of spectacular riding. It’s possible to ride the loop in one day, but most people take two days. Or, link the Motu Road Trail with the Rere Falls Trail and ride all the way to Gisborne.

What to see
The spectacular Motu Falls are worth a detour. They’re located 5km from Motu on the Motu Road Trail.

Hukutaia Domain, south of Opotiki, has a fine collection of native plants, including a 2000-year-old puriri tree.

Pakihi Hut, which stands high above the Pakihi River, provides a great spot for refuelling on the Pakihi Track (or spend the night and turn your ride into a leisurely overnighter).

The Rere Falls Trail will take you past Eastwoodhill Arboretum, home to 135 hectares of exotic and native trees.

Where to stay
Opotiki has lots of accommodation options. There’s also a shuttle service to get you to and from the tracks you want to ride. 

We can hook you up with bike hire, or combine bike hire and campervan hire for the ultimate road trip.

Have a great week,
Steve

Image: Beach Holiday Park by Robert Engberg. CC BY 2.0.


A Custom Cycle Tour Of The Catlins

Rachel Lamb has covered a large portion of New Zealand by bike, including the Tour Aotearoa – the 3000km brevet from Cape Reinga to Bluff. Back in February, she toured the Catlins with Natural High and friends. 

Located in the southeastern corner of the South Island, the Catlins is an area of stunning natural beauty – from magnificent coastal cliffs and long sweeping beaches, to rainforests, hidden waterfalls and rolling farmland. Here, Rachel tells us a bit about her trip.

What was your favourite place?
The whole of the Catlins is a treasure trove for nature lovers with spectacular scenery everywhere. If I had to pick one spot as my favourite it would have to be Curio Bay. We witnessed two spectacular sunrises and were fortunate enough to be there when the conditions were perfect for learning to surf. Before getting on our bikes for the day, we took part in a two-hour surf lesson and while we were out there five Hector’s dolphins joined us. Amazing.

How would you describe the riding?
The riding is generally easy but there are a few hills that you need to go over. The other element that can be a factor is the wind – the Catlins is quite exposed so you can encounter headwinds which add to the challenge.

What do you love most about travelling by bike?
I love to walk but I love to cycle even more as you can go so much further and see so much more.

What types of accommodation did you stay in? Is there anywhere you’d especially recommend?
We stayed in very comfortable accommodation in some lovely spots. The waterside cabins at Pounawea stood out as did our accommodation at Whistling Frog Resort.

What bikes did you use for your tour? Did you feel they were a good fit for your journey and why? 
We used mountain bikes for our trip which were great – there wasn’t a lot of off-road cycling but they were good on the gravel roads.

Anything else you’d like to mention?
There are so many little side trips you can do in the Catlins – walks to waterfalls, lighthouses and old saw milling spots. I would recommend incorporating as much of those into your trip as possible. Curio Bay was just magical and I would highly recommend at least getting in the water there and hopefully swimming with the dolphins. You can also find the petrified forest at Curio Bay which is very interesting.

Rachel’s trip was custom-designed to suit her group. Want to chat about a custom tour of your own? Drop us an email today.

Have a great week,
Steve

Images: Courtesy of Rachel Lamb.


Backcountry Riding Inspiration: Old Ghost Road + Heaphy Track


Want a taste of backcountry riding in New Zealand? Then check out this short film made by Damian Stones and Erik Hall, as they navigate two of the South Island’s most epic trails: the Old Ghost Road and the Heaphy Track.

The intrepid duo decided to combine the two tracks into one mammoth, six-day loop over a couple of beers. To make life more challenging, they rode in mid-winter!

The Old Ghost Road and the Heaphy Track are located in the West Coast region of the South Island. They’re both Grade 4 rides, meaning they’re only suitable for fit, experienced mountain bikers. Careful planning and preparation are essential.

Old Ghost Road
85 kilometres of riding through native forest, open tussock tops and remote valleys. You’ll cross 21 bridges and encounter four “ghost” towns. The trail is typically ridden over two to four days, from Lyell in the south to Seddonville in the north. There are six huts located along the route.

Heaphy Track
A tough, challenging ride that’s open to mountain bikers from 1 May to 30 November each year. The 78km track features numerous swing and suspension bridges, steep slopes and changeable weather conditions. You’ll need to be a competent rider, capable of tackling six hours plus on technical single track. Plan to spend two nights on the track, and carry all your food, clothes, overnight gear and bikes tools.

And they’ll be yet another reason to haul your mountain bike to the the West Coast from 1 December 2019 when the Paparoa Track opens. Built as a memorial to the 29 men who died in the 2010 Pike River Mine disaster, the track will become New Zealand’s 10th Great Walk and will be open to mountain bikers all year round.

We’ve got great mountain bikes available for hire for any of these rides, or check out our second hand bike sale page.

Have a great week,
Steve


Heads-Up If You’re Seeking A New Bike – We’ve Got Bargains!

Natural High bike sale New ZealandIn the market for a new bike? We might be able to help!

We’ve currently got top-brand mountain, hybrid, touring, road, ebikes and kids bikes available for purchase, as well as cycle accessories like panniers and trailers.

Popular models include:

Specialized Pitch 650b from $400. This entry-level mountain bike features a triple chain ring setup and 27.5″ wheels. It’s a great choice if you’re contemplating hitting up the trails but don’t want to shell out a ton of money on a more advanced model. Also available: Specialized Rockhopper Sport 29. 

Schwinn Sierra. A stylish, comfortable bike for commuting or city cruising. 

Avanti Giro F2. With an alloy frame and carbon fork, this is a lightweight and easy to handle flat bar road bike. 

Surly Long Haul Trucker from $1600. Planning an extended cycle tour of New Zealand? This could be the bike for you. Very limited availability so get in touch to let us know your requirements. We’ve also got panniers, trailers and other accessories available for sale. 

All our bikes are in fantastic condition and have been regularly serviced by our in-house bike mechanics. Take a look on the website, or drop by our Auckland or Christchurch branches to view in person. 

Have a great week,
Steve

P.S. Just need to show your current bike some extra love? We offer bike servicing at both our branches from as little as $70. Email us to organise a time, or give us a call on 03 982 2966 (Christchurch) or 09 257 4673 (Auckland).


When Did You Last Replace Your Cycle Helmet?

when did you last replace your cycle helmet?It’s one of the most essential pieces of cycle gear you own, but when did you last take a good, hard look at your helmet? 

Most manufacturers recommend that helmets are replaced between three to five years. Lots of different parts of your helmet – like the chin straps and the retention system – can wear out after time. Regardless of wear, if you’ve crashed while wearing your helmet, replace it immediately. And any physical damage also means that your helmet won’t be able to do its job, so inspect it closely for cracks or dents. 

The fit of your helmet plays a big part in its effectiveness. As a general rule the helmet should rest flat on the top of your head and sit level. Make sure the strap splitters rest just under each ear and the chin strap isn’t too loose. 

If you notice any damage, or your helmet is no longer fitting you comfortably, it’s time for a replacement. One thing to look out for when scoping out your options are helmets containing MIPS technology. MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System and it’s designed to reduce rotational forces on the brain that can result from certain impacts. The technology has been developed by leading brain surgeons and scientists and could, in the event of a crash, reduce the risk and severity of brain injury.

It’s compulsory to wear a helmet when riding in New Zealand. If you’re hiring a bike from us, we can hook you up with helmet hire or discounted purchase ($50). In both cases, we’ll make sure the helmet is fitting you correctly before you ride out the door.

Have a good week,
Steve