Five Reasons to Cycle Tour New Zealand This Summer

Five Reasons to Cycle Tour New Zealand This SummerStunning scenery, lifelong memories, improved health and wellbeing. There’s plenty of reasons to cycle tour New Zealand this summer. Here’s our top five….

Make your friends green with envy
Laid back cruising along quiet country backroads. Bubbling hotpools and starry night skies. Jaw-dropping, picture-postcard scenery. There’s no two ways about it – cycle touring in New Zealand is going to give you way better holiday stories than your mates.

Learn to slow down
Most of us live life at a million miles an hour, which isn’t always healthy. Biking forces you to slow down, to be more mindful, to notice things you simply wouldn’t spot on other forms of transport – all of which can have a huge impact on your health and wellbeing.

Immerse yourself in everything New Zealand has to offer
New Zealand is a country that demands to be experienced. Yes, you can admire the beauty of a high alpine peak from the window of a tour bus or a hire car, but pedalling up it will leave you with a far deeper sense of appreciation and wonder – not to mention a huge sense of achievement. Biking immerses you in everything – the views, the sounds, the smells, the people – and as a result you’ll come away with a greater understanding of this incredible country.

Skip the hassle
Guided cycle tours are designed to make the cycle touring experience easy. Your route and itinerary will be provided by your tour guide, who’ll be cycling alongside you at all times. A support vehicle will always be close by to give you a rest from the saddle or shuttle you up the steep bits, and your luggage will be delivered to your hotel room. You pick the destination and dates, we’ll take care of the rest.

Feel like a kid again
Riding a bike is fun. Whether you’re whizzing down a mountain or cruising the flats there’s something infinitely freeing about pedal power. Time to jump in the saddle and reconnect with your inner child.

Ready to start investigating a cycle touring holiday? Not sure where to start? Check out this recent article:
Three Easy New Zealand Cycle Tours that are Just Perfect for Newbies

Have a great week,
Andrew Hunt


Central Otago Rail Trail Tours

Central Otago Rail Trail Tours
There’s something wonderfully nostalgic about cycling old rail trails and the Central Otago Rail Trail with its intriguing history, breathtaking scenery and warm southern hospitality offers many compelling reasons to ride.

For newbie riders, the trail makes a particularly great introduction to cycle touring since the terrain is relatively flat and easy-going.

We offer two types of Central Otago Rail Trail tours: an all-inclusive guided tour or a completely flexible self-guided tour. Read on for all the details…

Guided Central Otago Rail Trail Tours
If you’re looking for a fully-supported adventure with accommodation, meals and luggage transfer all taken care of, choose one of our guided Otago Rail Trail tours. We offer a five-day Christchurch to Christchurch tour or a five-day Queenstown to Christchurch tour.

Both tours offer the complete rail trail experience; 150 kilometres of changing landscapes, high country sheep stations, river gorges, tunnels and viaducts. You’ll explore small towns and abandoned gold diggings, sample delicious fare at local cafes and try your hand at curling (bowls on ice). You’ll also enjoy a ride on the famous Taieri Express – considered one of the world’s great train journeys.

Self-Guided Central Otago Rail Trail Tours
Want to ride the trail at your own pace? Then our brand new self-guided tour is for you. This provides you with detailed route maps and top-quality bike gear but gives you the freedom to organise your days as you please. Add on extra days and stay longer at a destination that tickles your fancy…or combine two days into one for a faster, more challenging journey. It’s completely up to you!

What’s included with a self-guided Otago Rail Trail Tour:

  • Rental of a Specialized Hardrock 29er or Specialized Pitch 650b mountain bike fitted with rear panniers, bike computer and full repair gear.
  • Detailed route maps and itinerary suggestions to make exploring as easy as possible.
  • Accommodation suggestions. We provide you with a list of recommended motels, backpackers, B&B’s and campsites along your route. You make your own bookings to suit your timeframe.
  • Bike transfer of your rental bike to and from Dunedin and/or Queenstown.

Like to know more about these tours? Ready to book? Send me an email.
Have a great week,
Andrew Hunt


New Zealand Wine Tours: Discover Our Most Under-the Radar Vineyards – By Bike

new zealand wine tours by bikeNew Zealand wine tours – by bike!

Nestled in the lee of the Southern Alps, 40 minutes north of Christchurch, are the vineyards of the Waipara Valley. Aromatic grape varieties such as pinot noir, riesling, pinot gris and gewürztraminer thrive in the cool climate of this region and the valley is fast establishing itself as one of the premium wine producing areas of New Zealand.

Right now, the Waipara Valley is still very much an insider-secret. Which is why we’re thrilled to be able to offer you two cycling tours that take in this undiscovered region.

Five Day North Canterbury & Marlborough Cycle Tour
Spectacular southern scenery, spa soaks and sublime wine are all on the menu on this easy ride through the picturesque Canterbury landscape.

You’ll set out from Christchurch and spend your first evening in the Waipara Valley (wine-tasting by the side of a pool, to be exact!) Day two sees you on the road to Hanmer Springs, home to thermal hot pools and excellent restaurants. The back country beckons on day three when you cycle through the Molesworth Station, New Zealand’s largest farm. After a night in the shearers’ quarters of a merino sheep station, you’ll follow the river down the beautiful Awatere valley to emerge in vineyards alongside the sparkling Pacific Ocean. You’ll overnight in Kaikoura, where you’ll have numerous opportunities to view whales, dolphins and albatross, before returning to Christchurch via the spectacular inland Kaikoura road.

This tour is available from December through to April 2016. Head here for exact dates. The tour costs $1565 NZD per person, which includes:

Four nights of 3-star, twin share accommodation.
All breakfasts, four lunches and three evening meals.
Support vehicle.
Luggage transfer for lightweight touring.
Knowledgeable, friendly tour guide.
DOC fees

Riding ability: Grade: 2. Moderate.
Book this tour today.

One-day Waipara Wine Tour
Short on time? Join us for a one-day tour of the Waipara Valley. The riding is easy, the scenery delightful and the wine tastings plentiful.

Tour includes:
Hybrid bike and helmet, hotel pick up and transport to and from Waipara. Morning coffee, wine tastings at any of four cellar doors (which could include Pegasus Bay, Torlesse, Waipara Springs, Greystone and Black Estate), and a delicious antipasto lunch platter. 10am pick up from your central Christchurch accommodation, drop off by 5.30pm.

Tour excludes:
Wine purchases, alcoholic drinks with lunch, optional coffee at your final cellar door.

Pricing details:
$275 per adult for 1-2 adults.
$240 per adult for groups of 3 or more.
Duration: 6-7 hours.
This tour will run daily after 26 October.
Book this tour today.

Like to know more about these tours? Send me an email.

Have a great week,
Andrew Hunt


Three Easy New Zealand Cycle Tours that are Just Perfect for Newbies

easy new zealand cycle tours for newbiesIf you’ve never undertaken a cycle tour before, you might feel a little apprehensive about signing up for several days in the saddle. Will it be hard work? Will you make it to the end? What if you don’t feel like cycling one day?

Don’t worry – our cycle tours are designed to offer complete flexibility from the day you set out to the day you reach your final destination. If you feel like having a day off from the bike, let us know what you’d prefer to do instead and we’ll organise it for you. If you feel like you need a breather during the day, we’ll summon the shuttle to your side. As for whether it’ll be hard work, we recommend you find your touring legs by choosing one of our easier tours. These offer laidback, relaxing cycling with lower daily distances and fewer hills. Here are three easy, New Zealand cycle tours that are just perfect for newbies:

5 Day Cycle Tour Wellington Harbour to Greytown
Right on the doorstep of Wellington – the coolest little capital in the world – is the Wairarapa, a region of rugged coastline, beautiful bush and interesting townships. This tour winds its way from the head of Wellington harbour to the charming Victorian town of Greytown, taking in the wild beauty of Palliser Bay and the genteel vineyards of Martinborough along the way. Smooth, gentle riding makes this route particularly suited to newbie cyclists or families.

5 Day West Coast Wilderness Trail
Discover the enthralling history and dramatic scenery of the South Island’s West Coast. This tour follows a 140km graded trail through dense rainforests, glacial rivers, lakes and wetlands, offering five days of leisurely cycling, sightseeing, cultural experiences and fine dining. You’ll visit the historic goldmining town of Ross, experience the many delights of Hokitika and pay a visit to a local carver of Pounamu (greenstone).

6 Day Alps to Ocean Cycle
This is the longest continuous ride in New Zealand, descending over 2000 ft from the lofty heights of Mount Cook to the coastal town of Oamaru. Along the way drink in the stunning beauty of the Mackenzie Country, bathe in the Lake Tekapo hot pools under one of the best night skies in the world, get up close with majestic Mt Cook and wander the Victorian Quarter in Oamaru.

Got any questions about these tours or cycle touring in general? Ready to book? Send me an email today!

Have a great week,
Andrew Hunt


Fancy Your Very Own Personal Tour Guide?

andyThis week I’m out on the Alps 2 Ocean trail with a group of long-term clients. This is their fourth trip with Natural High and to celebrate they’ve let me design them their very own custom tour.

So I’ve put together an exciting itinerary which blends all the standard goodness of the Alps 2 Ocean trail – stunning scenery, big skies and wide open spaces – with plenty of unexpected twists and turns!

Naturally the signature Natural High touring experience applies too: top-quality bikes, tasty snacks all ready and waiting at refuelling breaks, support vehicle always on hand, top-notch accommodation and plenty of fun and laughter.

I absolutely love showing visitors around New Zealand. When I’m planning a custom tour I obsess over the details: what insider secrets can I include? What cafes have the most delicious coffee and muffins? Where are the best hotpools? (Got to have hotpools on a cycle tour.)

I’ve been leading tours around the North and South Islands for years now, and I love it as much today as I did when first starting out. It’s a pretty special feeling knowing I’ve helped give people holidays they’ll remember forever.

I’m thinking of running an Andy special in March – possibly the Rainbow Range…or even harder! This will be a challenging tour for experienced, fit riders who want tough terrain and everything taken care of. Expect a few surprises thrown in along the way too! Email me if you’d be interested in learning more. And if you want me to custom-build a tour just for you – get in touch. I’d be happy to help.

Have a great week,
Andrew Hunt


New! One-Day Cycle Tours Around Christchurch

one-day-tours You can pack a lot into a day! Our new range of day tours around Christchurch are overflowing with everything that makes this region great: stunning scenery, quiet country roads and delicious food and drink. Which one will you choose?

WAIPARA WINE TOUR
Uncork the pleasures of the Waipara Valley, a region well-known for its award-winning aromatic wines and spectacular views of the Southern Alps. This tour offers relaxed, easy riding along an off-road cycle trail and quiet country roads, with leisurely stops for an antipasto lunch and wine tastings along the way.

Tour includes:
Hybrid bike and helmet, hotel pick up and transport to and from Waipara. Morning coffee, wine tastings at any of four cellar doors (which could include Pegasus Bay, Torlesse, Waipara Springs, Greystone and Black Estate), and a delicious lunch platter. 10am pick up from your central Christchurch accommodation, drop off by 5.30pm.
Tour excludes:
Wine purchases, alcoholic drinks with lunch, optional coffee at your final cellar door.
Pricing details:
$275 per adult for 1-2 adults.
$240 per adult for groups of 3 or more.
Duration: 6-7 hours.

LITTLE RIVER RAIL TRAIL TOUR
Escape the city and discover the delights of the Banks Peninsula. The Little River Rail Trail follows the route of a 19th century railway and offers stunning views of lake Te Waihora and its resident birdlife. The trail ends in the rustic country village of Little River, where an award-winning local café provides well-earned refreshments. Quiet roads, gentle gradients and beautiful scenery make the Little River Rail Trail a fantastic outing for cyclists with little to no riding experience and families.

Tour includes:
Hybrid bike and helmet, hotel pick up and transport to and from the trail. Water bottle and riding snacks. 9am pick up from your central Christchurch accommodation, 3pm drop off.
Pricing details:
$260 for 1 adult.
$180 per adult for groups of more than 2 adults. $150 per child.
Duration: 6 hours. Motukarara to Little River is a distance of 22km. Fast riders can ride both ways.

PORT HILLS ROAD TOUR OR MOUNTAIN BIKE TOUR
Lots of different options await riders in the scenic Port Hills, from road rides through seaside suburbs and along quiet country roads to fun and challenging mountain bike terrain. The Port Hills boast stunning views across the Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps in the west and the blue bays of the Banks Peninsula in the east. Let us know your riding ability and preferences and we’ll tailor a day just for you.

Tour includes:
Performance bike and helmet, hotel pick up and transport to and from the trail. Water bottle and riding snacks. 9am pick up from your central Christchurch accommodation, 3pm drop off.
Pricing details:
Road bike tour: $260 for 1 adult, $180 per adult for groups of more than 2 adults.
Mountain bike tour: $280 for 1 adult, $190 per adult for groups of more than 2 adults.
Duration: 6 hours.

To book these tours, simply send us an email.

Have a great week,
Andrew Hunt


Cycle Touring NZ: When To Go

cycle touring nz: when to goIt’s the million-dollar question – when’s the best time of year to cycle tour around New Zealand (and not get hit by gale-force winds and bucketing-down rain?) Because blue skies and warm (but not too warm) sunshine every day would be pretty nice, right?

Since none of us at Natural High possess a crystal ball, here’s the next best thing: a general overview of the types of weather to expect each season.

Summer (officially December-February)
Our most popular season for overseas visitors. Average summer temperatures are around 25˚C in the North Island and 22˚C in the South Island. February and March generally offer the most settled weather of the year – mornings and evenings are cooler but the days are beautifully clear and sunny.

Peak holiday season for New Zealanders is during the summer school holidays, from late December to the end of January. During this period roads can be busy and many popular holiday spots (Coromandel, Raglan, Mount Maunganui, Northland) book out completely. Easter weekend and Labour Day weekend (late October) can also be fairly busy holiday periods.

Autumn (March-May)
Can still be warm, sunny and settled and it’s possible to swim in some areas until May.

Winter (June-August)
Tend to be the wettest months of the year. Gets chilly all over the country (especially the further south you go) with snow on high ground and alpine highways. On the upside, accommodation is often cheaper during this time of year and popular tourist spots will be quiet. Be aware that some accommodation providers close completely during the off-season – if you’re touring during these months, ring ahead to make sure you have a bed for the night!

Spring (September-November)
Can be cold and frosty, or warm and hot! Often the windiest season.

Top tip: be prepared for all weather no matter when you decide to visit. Good quality, reliable waterproof gear is a must. In the summer months, the sun can be fierce, so cover up with a hat, sunglasses, loose clothing and high factor sun cream.

Got any more questions? Click here to email us.

Have a great week,
Andrew Hunt

P.S. We’re introducing some exciting new day tours next week. Keep your eyes peeled for details!


Cycle Touring NZ: Bring Your Own Bike or Buy/Hire Here?

cycle touring nz: bring your own bike or buy/hire here?Planning a cycle tour in New Zealand can be a daunting task – especially if you’ve never visited our beautiful shores before. To help make the process easier, we’d thought we’d answer some of your most common questions. First up: is it best to bring your own bike or buy/hire when you arrive?

If you’re only planning a short stay in New Zealand, hiring a bike when you arrive is likely to be the most convenient option. Many airlines charge additional fees for large items of baggage and there’s always a risk that your bike might get damaged, or lost, en route.

At Natural High we offer a wide selection of bike rentals, from high-end tourers to comfortable hybrids and super-tough mountain bikes. We choose our gear to specifically suit the New Zealand terrain so while we may not be able to provide the exact same bike you have at home, rest assured it’s going to get you around comfortably and safely.

All our bikes receive a full service before hitting the road and we’ll also take the time to ensure a proper bike fit before you head off on your adventures. You’ll be supplied with a lock, multi tool, tyre levers, spare tube and repair kit. If you’re joining us for a guided tour, bike hire is usually included in your package price.

If you’re cycle touring for two months or longer, our buy back scheme could be a good option. We’ll refund half the purchase price if the bike is returned in a reasonable condition. At certain times of the year we also have a selection of ex-rentals available to buy at competitive prices. Another good option for finding secondhand bikes is Trade Me (New Zealand’s version of eBay).

Plenty of people do bring their own bikes and gear. If that’s still your preferred option, make sure your bike is clean before you travel. New Zealand has strict biosecurity laws and muddy tyres will be frowned upon!

Both our Auckland Airport and Christchurch branches feature fully equipped bike workshops, meaning we can unpack, build and service your bike ready for your Kiwi adventures. We can also store your bike box or case for you while you explore, and disassemble and pack your bike for your return journey. We can even supply cardboard bike boxes and packaging if needed.

Got any more questions? Click here to email us.

Have a great week,
Andrew Hunt


Wild Riding on the West Coast Wilderness Trail

Wild Riding on the West Coast Wilderness Trail

west-coast2Dramatic scenery and an equally dramatic past – they don’t call it the wild West Coast for nothing! Discover this region’s enthralling history on the West Coast Wilderness Trail – a 140km graded trail through dense rainforests, glacial rivers, lakes and wetlands. This gem of a tour offers five days of cycling, sightseeing, cultural experiences, dining and relaxing through one of the South Island’s most memorable landscapes.

Day One
Christchurch to Ross
From Christchurch you’ll cross the Southern Alps via Arthurs Pass and begin your riding along the quiet backcountry trails of Lake Brunner. Your lodging for the night is the historic town of Ross, home to New Zealand’s largest gold nugget (known as The Honourable Roddy) and a community that describes itself as “wonderfully wacky!”

Day Two
Ross to Hokitika
Day two starts with a exhilarating walk – through the treetops! The Westcoast Treetops Walkway takes you 20 metres above the forest for a birds-eye perspective of the surrounding landscape. Back on the ground we cycle to Hokitika, enjoying dramatic views of the coastline and stopping for a visit with a local carver of Pounamu (greenstone). Hokitika will be your base for the next two nights. It’s a cool little town with a fascinating history, culture and arts scene and there’s plenty to see and do during your downtime.

Day Three
Lake Kaniere
Easy-going riding awaits on day three when we cycle around beautiful Lake Kaniere. The rural countryside is flat and our ride takes us through many small townships and farms. We’ll stop for photos at the impressive Dorothy Falls and then follow an old water race used in gold mining times before a last (optional) ride back to town.

Day Four
Lake Kaniere to Kumara
Day four will see us driving back to Lake Kaniere to continue our journey along the trail. We’ll stop for coffee at Milltown, once home to a thriving sawmill. After a brief spell of uphill riding it’s mainly downhill for the rest of the day, following water races, bush tracks and reservoir roads to our overnight stop – the beautifully restored Theatre Royal Hotel in Kumara. We’ll enjoy a celebratory dinner this evening while reflecting on our west coast adventure.

Day Five
Kumara to Greymouth
Your final day of riding will follow the Taramakau River and the coastal road to Greymouth, where a variety of cafes and restaurants offer lunchtime dining options. You can also choose to visit the famous Monteith’s Brewery for a tour and tasting! Then it’s all aboard the Tranzalpine Express for your ride back to Christchurch.

Take This Tour
The West Coast Wilderness Trail is available from October through to April. Head here for exact dates. Tour costs $1695 NZD per person, which includes:

Four nights of 2/3-star, twin share accommodation.
Four breakfasts, three lunches and three dinners.
Support vehicle to whisk you up the steep bits.
Luggage transfer for lightweight touring.
Knowledgeable, friendly tour guide.
TranzAlpine fare.
Entry to Treetops Walkway.
DOC fees.

Grade: 1. Easy

To book, simply send us an email.

Have a great week,
Andrew Hunt


Is it Time for a New Bike Helmet?

is it time for a new bike helmet?We cyclists love our gear. But while we can be keen as mustard to get our hands on the latest carbon wheelset, or some sweet low rolling resistance tires, we’re not so good at replacing the most essential piece of kit of all: our cycle helmet.

If it’s been more than 3 to 5 years since you treated your head to a new helmet, consider a trip to your local bike shop to get fitted for a new one. Most manufacturers recommend you replace a helmet after 3 to 5 years (and if you’ve been involved in an accident, you should replace it immediately).

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.

It’s compulsory to wear helmets when riding in New Zealand. If you’re hiring a bike from us, we can hook you up with a brand new helmet for just $45, or we can hire you one. In both cases, we’ll make sure the helmet is fitting you correctly.

Have a great, safe week,
Andrew Hunt

Image: Kate Fisher