Start 2019 With A Cycling Adventure Of A Lifetime

Start 2019 With A Cycling Adventure Of A Lifetime2019 is careening towards us at breakneck speed. Fancy starting the year with a cycling adventure in New Zealand? The following tours have guaranteed departure dates in January.
 
6 Day Southern Lakes Christchurch to Queenstown Cycle
Road tour | Grade 2 – Moderate
Departs 6 January
Scenic cycling amidst vivid emerald lakes, high mountain peaks and golden tussock lands.

9 Day Northland Cycle
Road tour | Grade 2 – Moderate
Departs 7 January
Forests, harbours and beaches beckon in Northland. Admire Cape Reinga, the northernmost point of New Zealand and spend a free day relaxing in the magical Bay of Islands.

10 Day West Coast Road Cycle Tour Christchurch to Queenstown
Road tour | Grade 2 – Moderate
Departs 8 January
Cross the Alps twice on this impressive tour, which takes in the beautiful West Coast, the famous Pancake Rocks and the Fox Glacier.
 
9 Day Road Cycle Tour Christchurch to Queenstown
Road tour | Grade 3 – Challenging
Departs 10 January.
Rural riding through podocarp rainforests, lakeside vistas and the scenic Haast Pass.

7 Day Road Cycle Tour Top of the South Island Christchurch to Christchurch
Road tour | Grade 2 – Moderate
Departs 19 January
A spectacular tour of vineyards, coastlines, hot pools and dense native forest.
 
7 Day Road Cycle Tour Queenstown to Christchurch
Road tour | Grade 2 – Moderate
Departs 20 January
Venture deep into rural South Island life, where quiet roads, stunning scenery and firsthand encounters with the local wildlife await. You’ll meander alongside the beautiful lakes of Te Anau and Manapouri, and ride the rugged coastline of the Catlins.

10 Day Southern Alps Road Cycle Tour Christchurch to Queenstown
Road tour | Grade 2 – Moderate
Departs 26 January
Saddle up in Christchurch for the ride over Arthur’s Pass, before hitting the twists and turns of the West Coast en route to Wanaka and Queenstown.

15 Day Southern Alps Road Cycle Tour Christchurch to Christchurch
Road tour | Grade 2 – Moderate
Departs 26 January
A classic loop that takes in Arthur’s Pass, the wild West Coast, the adventure capital of Queenstown and the majestic Mount Cook.
 
All these tours are fully-guided and include 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.
 
Can’t make January? Alternative dates are available for all of these tours. Check the website or get in touch today.

Have a good week,

Steve


Whet Your Appetite For Cycle Touring On The Great Taste Trail

See the Abel Tasman National Park as part of the Great Taste Trail cycle tourLove the idea of cycle touring around New Zealand but have no idea where to go? Or, maybe you’re daunted by the thought of big hills and long slogs – you’d like something laid-back and easy to get you into the groove? Allow us to introduce the Nelson Great Taste Trail Tour – a 6 day meander through the beautiful surroundings of the upper South Island.

With large portions of the route following quiet backcountry roads and flat coastal trails, this is a perfect tour for a less experienced rider. And it’s likely the weather gods will shine down upon you as well – this is one of the sunniest regions in New Zealand.

The tour will take you past vineyards, farms, countryside and beaches, with ample stops along the way to sample local wines, brews and cuisine.

Highlights:

  • Discover the city of Nelson – known for its sunshine, arts, wine and great food.
  • Enjoy a half-day walk on the famous Abel Tasman track.
  • Sail through the Abel Tasman National Park on a catamaran.
  • Be wowed by the picturesque scenery of the Nelson Lakes National Park.
  • Make pancakes and billy tea on a perpetually burning fire hidden in native bush

Tour guide, support vehicle and luggage transfer are all included. Pick from three guaranteed departure dates for summer 2018/19: 11 November 2018, 20 January 2019 and 17 February 2019. Other tour dates are also on offer – head here for a full list, or get in touch if you have any questions.

Have a good week,

Steve

P.S. Want to make the riding even easier? E-bike hire may be available for this tour. Get in touch for more details.

Image: Abel Tasman National Park.


Short But Sweet: 5 Unmissable NZ Day Rides

5 Unmissable NZ Day RidesNot really into long-distance cycle touring? Prefer half- or full-day rides? That’s not a problem in New Zealand where shorter riding options can be found right across the country. Here are five routes that’ll stretch your legs without raising too much of a sweat.

Hauraki Rail Trail, Coromandel
Paeroa to Waikino, 28km return.
This section of the trail takes you through the sharply winding Karangahake Gorge, considered one of the “fourteen wonders of New Zealand”. As well as bush, waterfalls and tunnels, this area has a rich gold mining history and there’s plenty of relics to uncover along the way.

Hawke’s Bay Trails
Three themed trails to choose from, all offering stunning coastal and rural views and relaxed, easy riding. If you love wine, put the Wineries Ride on your agenda – it meanders past numerous award-winning wineries. Or time your visit to coincide with the annual Napier Art Deco Festival, taking place 13 to 17 February 2019. 

Great Lake Trail
W2K section, Kinloch Domain to Whakaipo Bay, 26km return. 
This is the most accessible section of the Great Lake Trail. Highlights include towering volcanic rock cliffs, beautiful views of Lake Taupo and a waterfall hidden deep in the Waihaha Valley.

Shipwreck Ride
West Coast Rail Trail, Greymouth, 24km return.
The west coast of the South Island is an epic spot for a bike ride. This trail runs from Greymouth to Shipwreck Point along an old coastal railway line. Carry on a bit further to Stone Pub for a good lunch stop. 

Arrowtown to Queenstown Trail
25km (one-way) of smooth gravel riding through the Wakatipu Basin.
Add an extra 8km to your journey with the addition of the Lake Hayes Circuit – famous for its calm waters and stunning reflections of The Remarkables mountain range. 
 
Sample any of these rides with combined campervan and bike hire. We supply fully-equipped, comfortable campervans in a range of sizes. Add in bikes and you’re all set for an adventure of a lifetime. Take a look at campervan options here.

Have a good week,

Steve

P.S. If you’re contemplating a campervan tour this summer, we recommend getting your reservation in early to avoid disappointment. Vans are hugely popular over the summer months and we book out fast! Check out your options on the website and then get in touch today.

Image: Hauraki Rail Trail.


Take A Look Inside Our Gear Shed

Natural High bike hire New ZealandFilled to the rafters with robust tourers, rugged mountain bikes and sleek and speedy road bikes, our Natural High depots are a bicycle lover’s dream! With the summer season fast approaching, we thought we’d introduce you to some of the models available for hire.
 
If you’re planning a long-distance bike tour of New Zealand, we have lots of options! The Surly Troll, the 29” wheeled Surly Ogre, or the Surly Bridge Club are all tough, light bikes capable of clocking up the kilometres both on and off the road. These bikes can easily handle a full rack and pannier setup, frame bags, or any combination of the two, and are ideal for bikepacking or undertaking the Tour Aotearoa.

Need a little extra help keeping up with a friend, partner or the pack? Then the E-bike – Avanti Discovery could be your secret weapon. This pedal-assist electric bike gives you extra power to tackle hills, headwinds and longer distances.

If you prefer more rugged, off-road terrain, our range of mountain bikes will suit riders of every level. Hardcore riders should check out the Specialized Stumpjumper or the Specialized FSR Camber Comp 29, while those just starting out on the trails will find the affordable Specialized Pitch 650b more than up to the job. 

Planning a family adventure? We have a range of cycles for little ones, including tagalongs and trailers.
 
All our bikes receive a full service before hitting the road, and we’ll take the time to ensure a proper bike fit before you head out on your adventure. You’ll also be supplied with a lock, multi tool, tyre levers, spare tube and repair kit.
 
If you’re ready for some summer cycling action, check out your hire options on the website. We have branches located at Auckland Airport and Christchurch, and we also offer pick-up and drop-off locations throughout both the North and South Islands.
 
Got questions about any of our bikes or accessories? Drop us an email and we’ll be delighted to help you out.

Have a good week,
Steve

P.S. Congratulations to Wellington’s Kennett brothers, Paul, Simon and Jonathan, who have just become the first New Zealanders to be accepted into the United States’ Marin Mountain Biking Hall of Fame. Over the last 30 years, the brothers have contributed to biking events, written best-selling guides and helped in the development of trails across the country. You’ll find lots of their brilliant guides in our online store.


At A Glance: New Tours For Summer 18/19

Got a hankering to explore New Zealand this summer? We’ve introduced some new tours to our lineup for summer 2018/19. Take a look here…

Love trails?
Then you won’t want to miss the 14 day Triple Trails tour, which takes in the Alps 2 Ocean, Otago Rail Trail and West Coast Wilderness Trail.

Highlights:

  • Spectacularly scenic riding from the foot of Mount Cook to the coastal town of Oamaru via the Alps 2 Ocean.
  • A leisurely cruise along the Otago Rail Trail.
  • Buzzing, vibrant Queenstown – you’ve got a whole day to explore!
  • The rugged scenery of the West Coast plus the West Coast Wilderness Trail.
  • Cross the Southern Alps twice.

Looking to experience the North Island?
The 9 day Northland tour blends beautiful beaches with some of New Zealand’s most significant cultural highlights.

Highlights:

  • Visit Tane Mahuta, the world’s largest kauri tree.
  • Pedal alongside the secluded waters of Hokianga Harbour.
  • Watch the waters of the Pacific Ocean collide with the Tasman Sea at Cape Reinga.
  • Explore the magical Bay of Islands.
  • January 2019 tour guaranteed to run.

Short on time?
Jump aboard the 7 day Alps 2 Ocean End to End tour and experience some of the South Island’s most impressive scenery.

Highlights:

  • Heli flight across the Tasman River.
  • Enjoy an ever-changing landscape as you ride, from the wide open spaces of Mackenzie Country to the beautiful blue waters of Lake Pukaki, and the braided rivers and vineyards of the Waitaki Valley.
  • Handpicked accommodation. You’ll stay at lodges, premium backcountry farmstays, motels and luxurious glamping tents.
  • Guaranteed departure dates. 20 November 2018 and 6 March 2019 are all set to go.

Never cycle toured before?
The 6 day Nelson Great Taste Trail tour isn’t new but it’s perfect for finding your riding feet.

Highlights:

  • Sublime coastal scenery.
  • Relaxed, easy riding.
  • Refuel along the way with local brews, wines and cafes.
  • Guaranteed departure for tours leaving on 11 November 2018, 20 January and 17 February 2019. More dates available.

Got a question about any of these tours? Get in touch today.
Have a good week,

Steve


5 Charming Central Otago Towns Best Explored On Two Wheels

The rolling landscapes of Central Otago are home to a succession of tiny, gold rush towns where beautiful old buildings hint at a fascinating past. Throw in world-class vineyards, excellent country pubs and a network of easily accessible cycle trails and the region has plenty to offer the visiting cyclist. Here are five towns well worth pedalling through.

Lawrence
Lawrence was Otago’s first gold rush town. It might be hard to imagine now, but at the height of gold fever its population was 11,500 – double that of Dunedin – making it one of the largest communities in the country at the time. Today it’s a small but bustling little town and the start (or finish) of the two-day Clutha Gold Trail, which meanders along the banks of the Clutha River to Roxburgh.

Roxburgh
Roxburgh sits in the beautiful Teviot Valley. Its lake was created by the Roxburgh Dam, commissioned in 1956. Early Maori hunted the now extinct, flightless moa here (you can see skeletons at the Otago Museum in Dunedin). Settlers began farming in the late 1850s and gold miners quickly followed. The Clutha Gold Trail finishes at the dam, but your riding doesn’t have to stop here because just across the river another Great Ride begins – the Clutha Gold Trail.

This one-day ride continues along the Clutha River to Alexandra, taking riders through the towering bluffs of the Roxburgh Gorge (look out for the old schist huts built by Chinese miners). The middle section isn’t currently accessible by bike but don’t worry, a 12-kilometre jet boat ride bridges the gap and includes plenty of insight into the history of the region (boat must be booked in advance).

Alexandra
Alexandra takes the titles of hottest, driest and coldest town in New Zealand. It’s a popular fruit and wine growing region, with numerous orchards and wineries to explore. Alexandra links with the original Great Ride: the Otago Rail Trail, which extends 150 kilometres along the former railway route between Clyde and Middlemarch (Alexandra is the second stop on the trail). Its wide gravel path has a gentle gradient, making it ideal for families and less experienced riders.

Ranfurly
After 90 kilometres of expansive skies and vast landscapes, the little art deco town of Ranfurly might feel like the big smoke! Just up the road at Naseby is the southern hemisphere’s only indoor curling rink.

Middlemarch
This country town marks the end (or start) of the Otago Rail Trail. Here you can hop aboard the Taieri Gorge Railway and journey in style to Dunedin.
 
Want to ride this region on an all-inclusive, guided tour ? We have lots of options including a 5 Day Otago and Clutha Cycle Trails tour, a 5 Day Otago Rail Trail – Queenstown to Christchurch tour, and a 5 Day Otago Rail Trail – Christchurch to Christchurch tour

Have a good week,
Steve

Image: Clutha River Cruises


New: Triple Trails Tour. Ride 3 of the South Island’s Most Famous Trails

Struggling to decide on a South Island cycle trail? Then check out this new, 14 day tour which takes in not one, but three of the South Island’s most famous trails.
alps 2 ocean trail
Trail 1: Alps 2 Ocean
320 km of spectacularly scenic riding from the foot of Aoraki/Mount Cook to the little coastal town of Oamaru. Highlights along the way include the vast tussock-lands of Mackenzie Country, the beautiful blue waters of Lake Pukaki and the braided rivers and vineyards of the Waitaki Valley.
 
Trail 2: Otago Rail Trail
A ride aboard the Taieri Gorge Railway from Dunedin delivers you to the start of New Zealand’s original Great Ride, the Otago Rail Trail. You’ll follow the route of the historic railway, encountering viaducts, bridges and railway tunnels dating back to the gold mining era of the 1880s.
 
Trail 3: West Coast Wilderness
A day in Queenstown to catch your breath (or lose it on the bungy), before you saddle up to cross Haast Pass and cruise the bends of the rugged coast road. At Ross, you’ll join the West Coast Wilderness trail, which follows water races, logging tramways and old railway lines to emerge at Hokitika. You’ll finish your epic adventure by crossing the Southern Alps a second time at Arthur’s Pass, before returning to Christchurch.
 
This guided tour allows you to bike a complete circuit of the lower South Island, starting out from Christchurch, heading south towards the Southern Alps and Queenstown, and then returning up the West Coast and over the mountains to Christchurch. Two departure dates are available: 4 March 2019 and 27 February 2020. All accommodation, most meals, daily luggage transfer, personal guide, vehicle support and bike hire are included. Like to know more? View the full tour itinerary on the website, or get in touch today.

Have a good week,
Steve


New for Summer: 9 Day Northland Cycle Tour

Northland cycle tourWhite sandy beaches, secluded harbours and sub-tropical forests – this new, 9 day cycle tour offers sublime scenery at every turn. But Northland isn’t just pretty. The region boasts numerous sites of historical and cultural significance. Here are five of the highlights.
 
Marvel at majestic Tāne Mahuta
Day two of this tour takes you through Waipoua Forest, site of New Zealand’s largest living kauri tree. The age of Tāne Mahuta, which means “Lord of the Forest”, is unknown but it’s estimated to be between 1250 and 2500 years old.
 
Soak up the views of Hokianga Harbour
According to northern Maori, the sand dunes of Hokianga Harbour are where the great explorer Kupe first set foot in New Zealand. Like Kupe, you’ll be arriving under your own steam, although your first glimpse of these beautiful waters will be from the saddle of your bike, rather than a canoe.
 
Witness the power of two mighty oceans merging at Cape Reinga
At the northernmost tip of New Zealand, the currents of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet in explosions of spray and spume. The views are outstanding and on a clear day you can see all the way to the Three Kings Islands. Cape Reinga is significant to Maori, since it marks the point from which Maori wairua (spirit) return to their traditional homeland.
 
Visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds
It was here, in 1840, that the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the British Crown and more than 500 Maori chiefs. Today the Treaty Grounds and museum offer an opportunity to learn about Maori culture and the events surrounding the signing of the treaty.
 
Explore Russell, gateway to the Bay of Islands
It’s hard to believe that pretty, laidback Russell was once known as the Hell Hole of the Pacific! The little town is also home to New Zealand’s first hotel, the Duke of Marlborough, which will be your base for two nights. By far the best way to explore the surrounding area is from the water and numerous operators offer sightseeing cruises around the Bay of Islands.
 
Three departure dates for this tour are on offer: 4 November 2018, 7 January 2019 and 7 April 2019. It’s graded moderate to challenging, with daily distances of between 23 and 147km. This is a fully-guided tour, which means all accommodation, most meals and daily luggage transfer are included. You’ll also have the option of hopping aboard the support vehicle if, at any point, you feel like a break from riding. Like to know more? View the full tour itinerary on the website, or get in touch today.

Have a good week,
Steve


A Coast to Coast Experience 30 Years in the Making

cost to coastWhen Kenneth Short crossed the finish line at this year’s Coast to Coast, it marked the fulfilment of a 30-year goal. Travelling all the way from his home in Hawick, Scotland to compete in the iconic race, here’s his story.

Why did you decide to take part in Coast to Coast? 
I first became aware of Coast to Coast at its conception in the early 1980s when I watched a documentary about it on television here in Scotland. I immediately thought “That’s for me!” This set me off on a 30-year multi-sport path until I eventually had the skills, time and cash to fulfil this dream. This was my second attempt at the Coast to Coast having failed to finish in 2017 due to a bad kayak choice!

Have you participated in any other multi-sport events or races?
Many! I started doing triathlon in the early 80s, then began adventure racing in 1996, adding fell running to my sporting loves in 2007. Notable events include 70 Wild Miles Glencoe (12 times), Ironman Germany, Scottish Coast to Coast, Irish Coast to Coast, Celtman (twice), The Heb, Loch Gu Loch, OMM UK (6 times) and OMM Iceland.

Which category did you compete in?
I think you call it “classic” over there: 50+.

What was your favourite part of the race?
Apart from crossing the finish line? Haha! I loved the mountain stage – it’s such an iconic part of the event. Wild, rough and committing!

Did you encounter any problems or mishaps along the way?
Nothing serious. I went over three times in the kayak but my roll is good so managed to get back up each time. I opted for a large bumbag for the run instead of a rucksack which was an error, and I forgot a cycling top for the final bike so had to do it in my bib… the result was a badly burned lower back!

The most disappointing mishap was my wife and only support, Mandy, got lost on the way into Christchurch… meaning she wasn’t there at the finish. I would have loved to share that moment with her as she had been part of the whole journey. It is a massive effort to support at the Coast to Coast – I believe the competitors have the easy part – and she has done it twice now without a single complaint.

What was your training schedule like in the run up to the event?
Living in the northern hemisphere means training for this race in the winter. This year in Scotland the weather was appalling, with continuous low temperatures and lots of snow. This made road biking impossible, so I had to train on a mountain bike. Once I sorted out five layers of clothing, thick gloves, hand and foot warmers etc it wasn’t so bad! I love running over the hills in the snow so that was okay (until it came to my waist!), but the biggest issue was kayak training. The loch I use was frequently frozen over and difficult to access due to blocked country roads. It is also really important to get fast-flowing river experience for the Coast to Coast – but any swim would potentially be life threatening in the freezing temperatures so bombproof rolling was motivation to say the least! 

It really helped that I had bought a Barracuda Enigma from PaddlerZone in Christchurch and shipped this over to Scotland (after the disaster of jumping in a super tippy boat in 2017 with no river practice!), so was able to train in the boat I would be hiring for the event.

My training started in earnest in November. I was relatively fit coming off our own summer season, so it was just a case of training specifically (long bikes, hill running and kayaking on loch/river), progressively increasing the time/distance until mid January, then a taper to the event.

What bike did you use? Did you feel it was a good fit and why?
You need an incredible amount of gear for the Coast to Coast and the logistics of organising this along with the whole trip to New Zealand is very complicated. I therefore decided to hire my bike from Natural High. They were brilliant. I opted for a Specialized Tarmac carbon bike which was absolutely perfect. Steve had a brand new bike ready for me – the fit was perfect and I had zero issues with the bike either on the lead up to, or the event itself.

I can’t thank Steve enough for his help when I arrived to pick the bike up – we were straight off a 26-hour flight and having issues at the hire car pickup, I needed a bit of help and Steve and Claire were just brilliant. It was the same after the event – I was heading out the next day and Steve went out of his way to make life easy for me by collecting the bike from my hotel. First class.

Although the bike legs on the Coast to Coast are relatively short (about 150km in total spread over three legs) the cumulative tiredness of these events makes it really important to have a comfortable bike. Carbon bikes reduce road buzz and the geometry of the Tarmac was perfect for me. Definitely on the shortlist for my next bike!

How did you feel when you crossed the line?
Crossing the line was emotional. A very good friend of mine had encouraged me for years to get out to New Zealand for the Coast to Coast. Niall Renwick – mountain biker, climber, skier and all round good guy lived in Queenstown for 20 years and was my support along with Mandy for the 2017 race. He was lined up to support me again in 2018, but a returning illness meant that he couldn’t do so. We knew this illness was terminal. Sadly, Niall passed away whilst I was on route to New Zealand. My thoughts at the finish line, as they had been during the whole race, were about Niall and the great time we’d had together the previous year.

Thanks, Kenneth for sharing your experiences. If you’re inspired to take part in a multi-sport or cycle race, you’ll find a roundup of some of New Zealand’s most popular events here

Have a good week,
Steve

P.S. Don’t forget, we have high performance bikes available for hire for multi-sport, triathlon or bike races. Check out our full range here, or get in touch to discuss your options.


Two Wheels Can Change Everything…

In September of 1895, a young Jewish mother named Annie Cohen Kopchovsy became the first woman to cycle around the world.
 
Wearing full-skirts atop her 42-pound bike, Annie had left her husband and three children in Boston 15 months earlier, reportedly to settle a wager between two wealthy Boston gentlemen that a woman couldn’t possibly circumnavigate the world on a bicycle. The terms of the bet required her to complete the trip within 15 months and earn $5000 above expenses along the way. No easy feat for a woman in that day and age.
 
Luckily, Annie was resourceful. To finance her journey she took on sponsorships, selling advertising space on her bicycle and clothing. She even changed her name to “Londonderry” as promotion for the Londonderry Lithia Spring Water Company.
 
As she pedalled her way through Europe, North Africa, Asia and the South Pacific, she acquired a lighter bike and began wearing a man’s riding suit. She did, on occasion, hop aboard a few steamships and trains, but still navigated thousands of miles of rough terrain.
 
Upon her arrival back in Boston, one New York newspaper called it “the most extraordinary journey ever undertaken by a woman”. Annie went on to become a vocal advocate for both cycling and women’s rights, although the story of her remarkable ride remains little known.
 
So next time you’re zooming along on your lightweight bike, donned in breathable clothing and with a phone to guide your every turn, spare a thought for Annie, who managed to get all the way around the world without a scrap of modern technology.
 
Inspired to step outside your comfort zone and try something new? Check out our range of fully-guided tours or explore at your own pace with a self-guided tour

Have a good week,
Steve

Image: Michael Neubert