Cycle the City: Auckland

Auckland’s busyness might not, at first glance, seem conducive to cycling, but look a little deeper and this buzzing metropolis can easily be explored by bike.

Te Ara I Whiti – Lightpath
A great option for a night ride because it’s bright pink and illuminated by interactive lights! The Lightpath is part of a route that weaves from Upper Queen Street to Victoria Street – carry on down the path to Silo Park for night markets and food trucks!

Woodhill Forest
Seeking speedy downhills and tight turns? Then Woodhill Forest is the place to head for. Just 40 minutes from downtown Auckland, this 12,500 hectare park offers trails for all abilities.

Tamaki Drive
With its far-reaching views of the harbour, the 8km cruise along the waterfront to St Heliers Beach is lovely at any time of day but especially pretty at sunset. Carry your swimming togs and a towel because beach and swim options abound along the way.

Auckland CBD – Devonport – Takapuna
Pack a picnic for this excursion which takes you from downtown Auckland to Devonport on the ferry and then onwards to the beach community of Takapuna. The path is mostly paved all the way to Takapuna, and there are cafes, beaches and shopping options to explore at both ends. 

Pohutukawa Coast
This spectacular stretch of coast begins at Omana Regional Park and takes you along beaches and through forest between Maraetai and Beachlands. The full route is 18km but with lots of stunning stop-off points along the way, you might not make it that far!

Waiheke Island
Escape the city and take your bike on the ferry to Waiheke where vineyards, galleries, cafes and beaches beckon. You can choose to follow one of several trails around the island, or grab a map and make up your own route!

We can help with bike hire for any of these routes – send us an email or pop into our Auckland branch, handily located at Auckland International Airport.

Have a good week,
Steve

Image: Auckland CBD by Francisco Anzola. CC BY 2.0.


5 Reasons To Choose a Guided Cycle Tour

alps 2 ocean cycle trail

On the fence about cycle touring? Here are 5 reasons to choose a guided cycle tour.

Routes to suit all level of rider

You don’t have to be a hardcore rider to enjoy a guided cycle tour. Each route we offer is rated according to its overall difficulty. If you’ve never toured before and want to ease yourself in gently, choose a route that’s rated easy. If you’re a more confident rider, look for a moderate tour, and if you really want to test yourself, pick one of our challenging tours.

You can always take a break from the bike
On guided tours, a support vehicle is always close at hand. If you fancy a breather or want to skip a steep bit, just let your guide know and you’ll be whisked onwards in comfort.

You don’t have to spend hours pouring over guidebooks and maps
Plotting a cycle tour takes time and patience – part of the fun for some people, but if you’re pressed for time or hate wrestling with maps, a guided tour could be the perfect solution. We’ll take care of all the route logistics, including food and accommodation stops along the way, so all you have to do is focus on the scenery. 

You don’t have to carry your luggage

Yes, you can ride with just a day bag because the rest of your luggage will be transferred to your next overnight stop.

Ebikes make it even easier
If you’re worried you might not be able to keep up with the pack or get to the top of some of the bigger hills (and you don’t want to have to jump in the support vehicle every time it gets a bit tough), talk to us about ebike hire. We’re able to offer pedal assist electric bikes on some tours but supplies are limited so early booking is recommended.

Think you’re ready to take the plunge? Let’s talk tours…

Best options for less experienced riders

5 Day Otago Rail Trail – Christchurch to Christchurch A scenic and historic journey into the heart of Otago, offering 150 kilometres of changing landscapes, high country sheep stations, river gorges, tunnels and viaducts. 

5 Day West Coast Wilderness TrailCycle through dense rainforests, glacial rivers, lakes and wetlands.

Moderate tours 

6 Day Southern Lakes Christchurch to Queenstown Cycle
Scenic cycling amidst vivid emerald lakes, high mountain peaks and golden tussock lands.

9 Day Northland Cycle
Forests, harbours and beaches beckon in Northland. Admire Cape Reinga, the northernmost point of New Zealand and spend a day relaxing in the magical Bay of Islands.

7 Day Alps to Ocean – End to End
Cycle the entire 320 km of the Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail from the official trail start at Aoraki/Mt Cook Village to the white stone township of Oamaru.

You’ll find lots more options on our website. Got questions? Get in touch today.

Have a good week,

Steve


5 Of The Best Cycle Rides In Christchurch

Cycle rides in Christchurch

Cycling is the perfect way to see the city sights. In our new series, we’re delving into the bike paths and trails of our biggest cities. First up: Christchurch.

Bottle Lake Forest
A variety of mountain bike tracks run through this 1000-hectare pine forest to the north of the city. Most of the trails are flat and easy-going, making the park a good location for families or for finding your mountain biking feet.

Avon River Trail
Follow the Avon River as it snakes through the city. This route follows a mix of shingle, normal roads, and closed roads to create a trail from the city centre to New Brighton. Storyboards installed along the way show how the environment and community has been affected by the 2011 earthquakes.

Summit Road
Spectacular views make this ride through the Port Hills a must. Begin at Dryers Pass Road, outside the Thomson Park Scenic Reserve. Turn left onto Summit Road, then turn onto Evans Pass Road. You’ll finish in Sumner village. Alternatively keep riding a little further to reach Godley Head. This route is just over 20 km and you’ll pass through various parks and scenic reserves along the way.

Little River Rail Trail
This former railway line between Christchurch and the Banks Peninsula offers a gentle ride through stunning scenery. The full route is 49 km but you can choose to ride shorter sections. Highlights along the way include Te Waihora/ Lake Ellesmere, home to one of the largest bird populations in the country, and its smaller twin Te Roto o Wairewa/Lake Forsyth.

Le Race Route
Every year riders race from Cathedral Square in the heart of the city to Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula, a journey of 100 km. It’s a tough slog, but a great way to experience the varied landscape of this region. You can find details of the route here. And if you fancy entering, this year’s race takes place on Saturday 23 March 2019.

Our Christchurch branch can get you sorted with bike hire (and extra insider info) for any of these routes – just send us an email.

Have a good week,

Steve

P.S. We also offer a number of guided routes in and around Christchurch, including the Little River Rail Trail, the Port Hills and a wine tour in the Waipara. Head here for full details.


3 Off The Beaten Track Rides For 2019

3 off the beaten track rides in NZ

Determined to live your best life in 2019? It all starts with adventure…

Molesworth Station
Only open for a short period every summer, riding the rough road through Molesworth Station really is a limited-edition experience! New Zealand’s largest farm offers 180,787 hectares of towering mountains and river valleys. It’s had something of a chequered past and these days is administered by the Department of Conservation. Allow two to five days depending on your fitness – there are campgrounds along the way.

The St James
The ultimate backcountry mountain bike experience! This 64km trail runs through the Canterbury high country, close to the alpine village of Hanmer Springs and offers an ever-changing panorama of mountain peaks, crystal clear rivers, high country lakes, alpine meadows, sub-alpine beech forest and expansive grassy river flats. The grade of the trail varies: the beginning and end sections are classed as easy and intermediate, while the middle part is graded advanced, with river crossings and bike carrying in places. Riders need to be fit and experienced to do the full trail. There are three huts and numerous camping spots along the route.

The Motu Trails
Located in the eastern Bay of Plenty, these trails enable less experienced riders to sample remote riding amidst spectacular scenery. With three trails to choose from (or the option to combine them all), there’s plenty to keep riders of all abilities entertained. The 10km Dunes Trail is is the easiest option, while the 91km Loop Ride, which starts and ends in Opotiki, can be ridden as an epic day ride, or a multi-day adventure.

Fancy tackling any of these rides? We can help with bike hire, or combined campervan and bike hire.

Have a great week,
Steve


Get Out There This Christmas

See the Abel Tasman National Park as part of the Great Taste Trail cycle tourHappy Christmas from the Natural High team! We hope you’re all set to enjoy the festive season wherever you are in the world.

If you’re using your holiday downtime to get out and about (or plan future adventures) we’ve got lots of ideas.

Christchurch day rides
Round up the family and discover a whole new side to Christchurch this summer. Whether you fancy a tour of Waipara’s vineyards (complete with cellar door tastings), a gentle meander along the Little River Rail Trail, or a more testing slog through the Port Hills, we’ll ensure everyone has a blast. Take a look at your options here, or get in touch today to get a date in the diary for the new year.

Experience the New Zealand Cycle Trail (even if it’s just a tiny piece)
No matter where in the country you find yourself, you’re never far from a Great Ride. Terrain and toughness vary wildly, but all offer a stunning perspective of our amazing country. Easier trails include the Clutha Gold Trail, the Otago Rail Trail and the Hauraki Rail Trail, while the Old Ghost Road and Mountain to Sea Trail offer a more rugged, challenging experience.

Is 2019 the year you challenge yourself?
Organising a multi-day cycle tour can be a hassle (particularly from overseas). If you fancy skipping the planning, jump aboard a fully-guided tour. With all the planning and provisioning taken care of, all you have to do is turn up and ride. Take a look at our tours here.

Finally, it’s not too late to grab a secondhand bike as a Christmas gift! We have top-quality ex-rentals for sale, including a number of kids bikes. Drop us an email today to see if we’ve got what you’re looking for!

Have a wonderful and safe Christmas,
Steve, Cecileah and the Natural High team.

P.S. Both our branches will be closed on 25 and 26 December 2018, and 1 and 2 January 2019. 


Discover How The Kaikoura Earthquake Changed The Landscape Forever

kaikouraNew Zealand’s landscape is a result of millions of years of geological activity. But it seems Nature isn’t finished with us just yet. The 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the upper South Island in November 2016 created enormous amounts of damage and upheaval, but when the dust settled some intriguing new features remained. 

Papatea Fault, Waipapa Bay

An astonishing 80 kilometres of coastline was lifted out of the water by the quake, with the biggest uplift occurring at Waipapa Bay. Here, a solid five-metre rock wall shot out of the sea at three kilometres per second. Although the ridge has reduced in size since then, it’s changed the landscape of the bay forever.

“Dinosaur Eggs” at Gooch’s Beach

About nine months after the quake, large spherical balls started appearing on Gooch’s Beach near Kaikoura. They’re believed to be concretions, formed by the precipitation of mineral cement. The quake has also improved the surf at the beach, with mellow, gentle waves now rolling in all year round!

Limestone Rocks, Okiwi Bay

While most of the tectonic shifts occurred around Kaikoura, change happened as far away as Nelson, at the top of the South Island. At Okiwi Bay, beautiful limestone rocks have emerged from the depths, adding an other-wordly feel to the local landscape.

Hope Spring, Kaikoura

Natural gases now bubble and fizz their way to the surface in Whalers Bay near Kaikoura. Created by fissures and fractures in the seabed rocks, the spring is best viewed from the water.

Want to discover the extraordinary landscape of the upper South Island? Check out the 7 day Top of the South Road Tour which takes in the coastal scenery from Christchurch to Kaikoura, as well as Nelson and the west coast. 19 January and 18 March 2019 departure dates are guaranteed!

Have a good week,

Steve

P.S. Don’t forget, we also offer bike and campervan hire. If you’d prefer to meander around the upper South Island (and even further afield) at your own pace, check out your options here.

Image: Kaikoura peninsula walkway by Andrea Schaffer. CC by 2.0.


Handy Tools to Make Planning your NZ Cycle Trip Easier

NZ Cycle tripPoring over guides, maps and websites is all part of the fun of planning a cycle trip! Here are a few handy reference tools to help make plotting your New Zealand adventure easier.

If you’re considering riding any of New Zealand’s 22 Great Rides, download the Great Rides App. You’ll get maps, trail guides and updates, as well as information on accommodation and food stops along the way. It’s available for free from the App Store or Google Play.

Thinking of heading into the backcountry? The New Zealand Mountain Safety Council’s website is crammed full of useful advice to help you safely pedal the remoter parts of our two islands.
 
Looking to explore by campervan? The Rankers Camping NZ App shows over 1500 camping locations around New Zealand, from paid sites to free spots. New Zealand’s free camping laws have got tougher over the last few years – this app will help you stay on the right side of the law and avoid a hefty fine! 

Anything by the Kennett Brothers is worth its weight in gold! Whether you’re seeking road rides, mountain bike trails or bikepacking inspiration, there’s sure to be a title to help. You’ll find a great selection in our store, along with maps and road atlases.

Don’t have time to plan? Book yourself onto one of our guided cycle tours and let us take care of the logistics. You’ll cycle with a knowledgeable tour guide, have all your accommodation and meals planned, and won’t even have to ride with your luggage because we’ll ensure it’s safely delivered to your accommodation each evening. Check out the many options on our website.

Have a good week,

Steve


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.