Why a Three-Week Bike Hire Turned into Ten (Despite An Unfortunate Incident on Day Two)

solo cycling in nzLotus is from Taiwan and she recently hired a bike from us to cycle around the South Island. Her trip didn’t start well…on her first day she rode down the motorway (illegal in New Zealand) and on her second day her bike blew into a lake! But it got better. So much better that she ended up cycling for over ten weeks! Here’s her story:

What were your favourite places and why?
My favourite cycle trail was the Tarnbrae Track (Lake Ohau) The view was so beautiful and the track is nice for the mountain bike.

My favourite road was State Highway 73 (which connects the East and West coasts via the Southern Alps). Although the Otira Gorge is difficult and dangerous, the view was amazing. The road is big and flat. It was safer for bikes. The downhill was nice, but it was a little dangerous because the wind was strong.

The most natural road was the West Coast. When I went to the West Coast by car I just saw many trees. On the bike, I could hear waterfalls and birds. I felt I rode in the forest, not a road.

What kind of weather did you experience?
Sunny, rainy, windy, snowy, hailstorms and an earthquake! The weather in New Zealand is variable. Because of that, I saw lots of different scenery. After rain, I would always see a beautiful rainbow.

Did you feel safe throughout your trip considering you were travelling alone?
New Zealand (especially the South Island) is a safe and nice place. I like to travel with the bike alone, because I ride slowly. I prefer alone – I can talk with myself and face myself and enjoy every moment and meet a lot of new friends.
cycling around new zealand

On my second day, my bike blew into the lake. A nice, older man carried me by car to the Holiday Park. The Duvauchelle Holiday Park manager gave me coins to wash and dry my clothes. I was deeply touched.

When I knew the water was salt, I worried about the bike. I thought I had to tell Natural High the truth and get them to check out the bike. Dan taught me how to change a flat tyre and gave me bicycle oil. And he told me, ”enjoy, have a good trip, and keep away from the wharf.” (Ha ha, he was really sweet.) I felt so warm, because he was like family, like a father.

In a café in Little River I met a French family: Papa, Mum and four children (ages 15,13,11,8). They had a plan to travel around the world by bike for one year. When I met them, they had travelled 6 months already. That day was rainy, windy and cold – a nice Kiwi woman invited us to stay at her house for one night. Then I joined the French family riding from Little River to Christchurch.french family cycling

On day 39 I arrived at Bluff. When I was on the road from the Catlins, I lost my heart and energy. I didn’t want to keep going and I worried about time and money. Then I decided to go to Stewart Island. I stayed three nights on Stewart Island. I didn’t want to talk with people – I just enjoyed the silence and nature and freedom. Then I met a Kiwi, who had ridden his bike from Cape Reinga to Stewart Island. I went to his concert and I liked his voice and his songs. That night I was really glad and happy.

So I travelled alone, but I was not alone on my way.

Lastly, did you enjoy it?
Yes, I really, really, really enjoyed it! During my journey, I discovered:
The most powerful thing is nature
The most beautiful scenery is people.
The things that bring me most happiness are warm showers and sleeping on a bed.
The most important thing to be is happy and safe.

I thank Natural High, because a good bike was very, very important in my journey. It was my best friend in my trip and I think it enjoyed every moment!

Thanks for sharing your story, Lotus. If you fancy doing something similar (minus the bike in the lake!) you can check out bike hire here.

Have a brilliant week,
Andrew Hunt

P.S. Lotus’ route if you’re interested in knowing exactly where she went:
Christchurch-Akaroa-Christchurch-Rakaia-Ashburton-by car to Geraldine-Lake Tekapo-Glentanner-Mount Cook-Lake Ohau-Omarama-Kurow-Duntroon-Oamaru-Katiki-Warrington-Dunedin-Middlemarch-Ranfurly-Omakau-Alexandra-Clyde-Alexandra-Roxburgh-Beaumont-Lawrence-Tuapeka-Balcluthu-Catlins(Nugget Point)-Papatowai-Curio Bay-Slope Point-Invercargill-Bluff-Stewart Island-Bluff-Riverton-Te Anau-Mossburn-Queenstown-Arrowtown-Cardrona-Wanaka-Makarora-Haast-Lake Paringa-Fox Glacier-Franz Josef-Ross-Hokitika-Greymouth-Moana-Jacksons-Arthur’s Pass-Flock Hill-Christchurch.


Traditional Kiwi Tucker to Keep you Pedalling for Longer

classic kiwi tuckerFood never tastes better than after a few hours in the saddle. Here’s a selection of classic Kiwi fare that’ll help keep your motor running when you’re out on the road:

The humble pie
You’ll find this delicacy in any bakery in any town – they’re cheap, substantial and delicious. Popular fillings include steak and cheese, mince and cheese and bacon and egg. While you’re in the bakery, you may as well pick up a sweet treat for later. Lamingtons are a good choice. The Australians like to claim these coconut-covered square sponges as their own invention, but Auckland University reckons a collection of 19th-century watercolours by New Zealand landscape artist JR Smythe prove otherwise – the Lamington (originally called a Wellington) originated in New Zealand. Other confections worth a bite: ginger crunch, caramel slice or a freshly-made muffin.

A flat white
Not technically food but since caffeine is a must when you’re biking and Kiwis are serious about their coffee, the flat white deserves a mention. It consists of a shot (or two!) of espresso and steamed milk. If you’re thinking that sounds a lot like a latte, there are two crucial differences – flat whites have a more velvety texture and are served in a cup, not a glass!

Fresh seafood
You’ll find seafood on the menu just about everywhere. Look out for green lipped mussels in Marlborough, crayfish / lobster in Kaikoura, Akaroa salmon in Christchurch, whitebait fritters on the West Coast and Bluff oysters in Bluff. And you can’t beat a feed of fish and chips at the end of a big day in the saddle! Freshly caught snapper, terakihi and hoki are the most common types of fish used. Switch things up with a serving of kumara (sweet potato) fries.

A scoop of hokey pokey
Hokey pokey is the nation’s favourite ice-cream – it’s vanilla with pieces of honeycomb.

Hāngi
This is the traditional Maori method of cooking food. A deep hole is dug, lined with red-hot stones and covered with vegetation. The food – chicken, pork, lamb, potatoes, kumara and other vegetables – is placed on top, sprinkled with water and sealed with more vegetation. The hole is then filled with earth and left to steam for several hours, producing a meal with a rich, succulent flavour. You won’t find hāngi on the menu at regular cafes and restaurants but many tourism experiences offer a hāngi meal, especially in Rotorua.

If you’re a keen foodie, put the following on your agenda:

The Wildfoods Festival in Hokitika. Usually held in March.

The Great Taste Trail in the Nelson and Tasman region. Easy cycling with lots of great cafes, breweries and vineyards along the way.

Bluff Oyster and Food Festival. Held in Bluff every May.

Whitianga Scallop Festival. Every year in September.

A local farmer’s market. Always a great option for finding fresh, flavoursome and locally-produce


It’s Official: The Kiwi Night Sky Will Leave You Starry Eyed

starspotting in new zealandOne thing you must do when in New Zealand is venture outside after dark – our night skies are likely to be clearer and brighter than any you’ve ever seen before.

Little to no light pollution and crystal-clear air means a stunner of a night show just about anywhere in the country.

Not only are our night skies brighter, they’re also different. You’ll get to see features not usually seen in the northern hemisphere, like the Southern Cross and the Southern Celestial Pole, and if you’re lucky you might even catch a glimpse of the Aurora Australis or Southern Lights.

Pretty much everywhere outside the main cities offers a spectacular night sky, but for truly first-rate viewing head to the Aoraki / Mount Cook Mackenzie region.

The Mackenzie Basin is the southern hemisphere’s first dark sky reserve, in recognition of its almost light-pollution-free skies. The reserve includes Aoraki Mt Cook National Park and the villages of Lake Tekapo, Twizel and Mt Cook.

Tekapo has just been ranked the second best spot in the world for stargazing (behind San Pedro de Atacama in Chile) by reservation website Booking.com. The village has two observatories – Mount John University Observatory and Cowan’s Observatory – which run popular twilight tours.

In Twizel, Star Gazing Tours run guided tours of the night sky at private, out-of-town locations.

The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail runs right through the Mackenzie region – combine days in the saddle with starry-night skies! Read Rachel Lamb’s blog of her recent Natural High Alps 2 Ocean tour, here:
http://sungrl18.com

If you’re travelling around New Zealand at the start of winter, you might notice talk of Matariki.

Matariki is the Māori name for the small cluster of stars in the Taurus constellation that rise during the New Zealand winter. Matariki is an important time in the Māori calendar – it signals the start of the Māori New Year and was once an important indicator of forthcoming weather.

Matariki celebrations take place around the country. In Wellington, Te Papa have events running from 13 June to 12 July.

Image: Tom Hall


Where Did We Go For This Year’s Team Management Meeting?

west coast cycling

It’s become a bit of a annual tradition: head away with my branch managers for a spot of team building and strategising – from the saddle!

This year Logan, Dan and I took in the West Coast of the South Island: over Arthur’s Pass (in a bus, thanks to a slip on the railway line) then along SH6 through Hokitika, Ross, Fox, Haast and Wanaka to Queenstown.

The West Coast is truly spectacular (admittedly we say that about everywhere in New Zealand) and the road is brilliant for cycling – lots of twists and turns, medium climbs and rugged coastal views.

Dan reckons the fourth day from Haast to Wanaka – with its combination of native bush scenery, the Gates of Haast and views of Lake Wanaka and Hawea – was his favourite day’s riding EVER….although Wanaka to Queenstown, which featured a stop in the Cardrona Hotel and a long, long descent from the top of the Crown Range to Arrowtown, was a worthy runner-up.

Few places worth a mention along the way: there’s a food stall in Hari Hari which sells great sausage rolls and some seriously good caramel shortbread. And Fox Glacier Lodge is a very comfortable and scenic spot to spend the night.

To get an in-the-saddle experience of our trip, we made you a little video. Head here to watch:
www.youtube.com/christchurch-to-queenstown

Fancy wandering the West Coast next summer? We’ve got lots of different options:

6 day Queenstown to Christchurch
Starting out in the adventure capital of Queenstown, this trip takes you over the Haast Pass to the West Coast, where you’ll cruise the coastal road and experience the icy wonders of the Fox Glacier. A great option for the super-fit or time-poor.

9 day Christchurch to Queenstown
Over Arthur’s Pass aboard the TranzAlpine, then onto the West Coast road. You’ll get a full day to explore Franz Glacier before riding through Fox Glacier, the Haast Pass, Makaroa and Lake Wanaka to Queenstown.

10 Day Road Cycle Tour Christchurch to Queenstown T3
You’ll be driven over Arthur’s Pass to Punakaiki, home to the famous Pancake Rocks, before following the twists and turns of the West Coast road all the way to Queenstown.

15 Day Road Cycle Tour Christchurch to Christchurch
A classic loop that takes in Arthur’s Pass, the wild West Coast, the adventure capital of Queenstown and majestic Mount Count.

Dates aren’t yet finalised for next year’s tours, but drop us a line if you’re keen to tackle any of these routes and we’ll be in touch with the details.


From High Peaks To The Pacific: The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail

alps 2 ocean cycle trail Natural High tour guide Leona recently led a group along the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail.

This 310km route has fast become one of the South Island’s must-do trails – and for good reason.

Running from Aoraki/Mount Cook to the cool little coastal town of Oamaru, it’s the longest continuous ride in New Zealand and serves up a dazzling array of scenery; from sweeping mountain vistas to beautiful blue lakes and golden grasslands.

Along the way there’s intriguing Maori rock art, interesting townships, an old railway tunnel, great vineyards and some exceptional hot pools all waiting to be discovered.

There’s even the possibility of a helicopter ride, since the official start is on the eastern side of Lake Pukaki (just out of Aoraki/Mt Cook Village and not accessible by vehicle). Alternatively, you can kick off your riding from Lake Tekapo and ride along the canals.

The trail generally takes between 4-6 days to complete and is a Grade 2-3 ride (easy to intermediate). Be aware that it’s not all downhill riding – there are several steep climbs and lots of off-road terrain. You’ll want to be moderately fit and have experience riding on loose gravel.

The best way to get a feel for this ride is to read Rachel Lamb’s blog of the recent Natural High tour:
http://sungrl18.com

Cycling Tips also posted a brilliant account of the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail. Head to their website for a read:
http://cyclingtips.com.au

And if all this reading inspires you to ride the Alps 2 Ocean trail in real-life, we offer a 6-day guided tour. Find more details here:
http://www.naturalhigh.co.nz/cycle_tour/gr021-5-day-alps-to-ocean-cycle/


Small City New Zealand: Gisborne

small city new zealand gisbornePerched on the very easterly edge of the North Island, Gisborne is popular with surfers, beach lovers and anyone looking for a few days complete peace and quiet. It’s got some interesting cycling opportunities too…

Getting there:
Getting to Gisborne is all part of the experience – it’s a long way from anywhere else! From Whakatane you have two options: scenic State Highway 2 or the even more scenic (and considerably longer!) drive around the East Cape. If you have time, this is well worth the extra fuel – you’ll pass beautiful beaches and coves and small, isolated settlements. Highlights along the way include: Waihau Bay – where the movie Boy was filmed, Te Araroa – home to the largest pohutukawa tree in the world, the East Cape Lighthouse – the most easterly place in mainland New Zealand, beautiful Tikitiki Church – built in 1924 as a tribute to those who fell in World War One and Tolaga Bay Wharf.

From Rotorua, you can take State Highway 38 through the wilderness of Lake Waikaremoana and the Te Urewera National Park. It’s mostly unsealed and slow going but it’s a drive you’ll never forget! This route brings you into Gisborne past the Mahia Peninsula, a popular spot with surfers and fishermen.

See the sunrise first
Gisborne is the first city in the world to see the sun rise. Head to Wainui Beach, Tatapouri or any other easterly facing beaches to catch the show. (The town beach faces west, so it’s best for sunset viewings).

Surf’s up
Beaches and surfing are what life in Gisborne is all about. Makorori and Wainui beaches offer reef, beach and point surf breaks and are lovely spots to wander. Waikanae Beach is a good learner’s spot.

Follow in the footsteps of Captain Cook
There’s a monument to Captain Cook at the bottom of Kaiti Hill – the spot where he first set foot on New Zealand soil. Close by, there’s a walking track which takes you up Titirangi (Kaiti Hill) for fine views of the coast, another Cook monument and the Cook Observatory.

Tairawhiti Museum
Learn about East Coast Maori and the region’s colonial history. The museum has excellent historic photographic displays and a maritime wing, with displays on waka, whaling, Cook’s Poverty Bay and a vintage surfboard collection.

The Rere Rockslide
Head to the Rere River, 50km northwest of Gisborne along Wharekopae Rd, where you’ll find a 60m-long rock slide. Tyre tube or boogie boards are recommended to cushion the ride. A few kilometres down the road are the stunning Rere Falls.

Eastwoodhill Arboretum
35km from Gisborne, this forest and garden contains New Zealand’s largest collection of northern hemisphere trees and shrubs set among 100 hectares of hills, valleys and ponds. A network of easy walking tracks makes it a great day out.

Cycling
Riding around the East Cape is popular, although large logging trucks still use the road. It’s a 4-5 day trip that’s best ridden clockwise. Otherwise, pick up a map and explore the huge network of back country roads (these are mostly unsealed).

Mountain bikers can hit up the Whataupoko Reserve, which has great trails for all levels of rider. There’s also the Mander Road Mountain Bike Park. To ride here you’ll need to buy a permit from Avantiplus Maintrax, Bikeys or the Gisborne Cycle Tour Company. Permits are valid for a week.

The Rere Falls Trail is another great ride option. This runs from Gisborne to Matawai (or vice-versa) and links Gisborne to the Motu Trails. It’s 103km (one-way) and takes you past the Rere Falls and Eastwoodhill Arboretum.


Exploring the Eastern Bay of Plenty and the Motu Trails

Here’s an absolutely fantastic set of rides we haven’t talked about yet: the Motu Trails. They’re located in the quiet, unspoiled Eastern Bay of Plenty and offer three different riding experiences. Here’s the lowdown:

Dunes Trail
An easy, 22km return ride suitable for beginners and families.
Starting from Opotiki, this trail follows the coastline to Jackson Road. It’s an easy (grade two) ride, with lovely views of the ocean, White Island and the East Cape ranges. Take your swimming togs as there are plenty of spots to access the beach along the way.

Motu Road Trail
An intermediate ride, 67km one-way.
This trail follows the first road between Gisborne and the Bay of Plenty and runs from Jackson Road to Matawai. (Connect with the Dunes Trail to start or finish your ride in Opotiki). The route can be ridden in either direction, but offers more downhill sections if you start in Matawai. It passes through remote bush and farmland and there are several steepish hills – reasonable fitness is required! At Motu, you can take a short detour to the spectacular Motu Falls.

Pakihi Track
Advanced riders only, 44km total.
When the Pakihi first opened in 1914 it was a horse track that provided a link between the town of Motu and the coast. These days it’s a wild and exhilarating mountain bike experience. The track runs one-way from Motu Road to Opotiki. The top half careens through native forest, while the bottom half follows the Pakihi River. The track is well formed, with a steady downhill gradient all the way. Free-draining soil means there’s very little mud even after heavy rain. It’s rated advanced because in places there are steep drops to the sides. From the end of the track, you can return to Opotiki via gravel road, then quiet rural road. Just before Opotiki, turn right onto Te Rere Pa road, and then follow the Otara stopbank track for 4km back to the start of the Dunes Trail.

The Loop
Combine all three rides, 91km.
To complete the full loop, start and finish in Opotiki. Set off along the Dunes Trail, which links directly with the bottom of the Motu Road Trail. From here it’s mostly uphill riding to the start of the Pakihi Track, which takes you back to Opotiki. It’s possible to ride the loop in one day, but most people take two days.

For more information on the Motu Trails, head here:
http://www.nzcycletrail.com/motu-trails.


Cycle Touring NZ: A Photographer’s Perspective

cycling franz josefScandinavian-based photographer Wiebke Schröder pedalled her way around New Zealand with Natural High in 2013. Here she shares her experiences, her favourite spots and her tips for keeping camera gear safe on the road.

Where did your cycle tour take you?
My tour took me all the way from Auckland on the North Island to Christchurch on the South Island and included a couple of transfers by bus and ferry. So I had a chance to visit some places of Maori heritage like Te Puia with its volcanic areas, mud pools and geysers and Tongariro National Park, as well as the glaciers of Franz Josef and Fox on the west coast of the South Island and Fiordland with Milford Sound. So pretty much some of the nicest spots across New Zealand – even though I still have some open on my bucket list.

How long were you biking for in total?
The organised part was a 15-day bike ride with two days for sightseeing in Wellington and Queenstown and I added one more ride before meeting with my group in Auckland, where I rode my bike up to Mount Eden.

What was your favourite place? (Or places if hard to pick one!)
Is it possible to have only one favourite place in New Zealand? To me, it seems to be some sort of collection of favorite places with a few in between areas where you can relax from being stunned from what you’ve just seen. But ok, favourite spots…
cycling hokitikaTongariro National Park for the mountains.
Rotorua / Wai-O-Tapu for the volcanic experience (even though I must admit that I don’t miss the smell, just the photos that I could have taken if I had the time).
The Driftwood Art and black sand in Hokitika.
The Crown Ranges – a kind of reward after climbing continuously for 40km from Wanaka on my bike.
Franz Josef Glacier.
Fiordland.

Did you encounter any problems/mishaps along the way?
The Natural High bike mechanic in Auckland – Andrew from Scotland at the time – fixed my bend derailleur hanger upon arrival, so a problem sorted before it could cause any trouble. And I am still thankful to him that he figured I had mounted my saddle post the wrong way.

At one point, on a right turn, my chain came off and I could not get out of my click pedals fast enough and I had a car behind me. Thankfully the driver was observant and I got out of it without an accident.

And a couple of times I was close to dehydration or was dehydrated – not the best feeling in the world, but thankfully it never reached the dangerous degree. So really just small stuff.

Can you tell us about your choice of gear. And how do you keep your photography gear safe (and dry) while cycling?
I brought my own hybrid bike – a Hard Rocx Cross Machine C4SL, 27 gears and V-brake – with me, just to be 100 per cent certain I had a good bike that fitted me right from the start.

I use an Ortlieb Ultimate 6 classic attached to my handlebar for my camera and the phones. And a Vaude Aqua Back pannier bag to hold rain clothes and spare lenses as well as filters and spare batteries.

The camera back then was a Pentax K20D with the battery grip attached and three lenses: a 18-55mm, a 50-300mm and a 100mm macro lens.

Plus I have a Garmin GPS mounted to my handle bar – if not for finding the right route then for saving the GPS data to later add it to the photos.

The pannier and handlebar bag are waterproof already and so far I haven’t had any trouble with that. So the keeping it dry factor is not an as big issue. Of course, in pouring rain I just don’t take those things out of the bags to start with – which only gets impractical if your last granola bar is in the same bag as your camera and it’s pouring cats and dogs… no food! Additionally the camera has like 72 seals against water, so it can handle some rain, not that I would want to deliberately try it but I wouldn’t give it up right away if there was some moisture in the bag.

And for keeping it safe from crashes I have some padding for the handlebar bag and an insert from another camera bag that fits the pannier bag. So should my bike just fall over the photo equipment should survive – unless bigger forces are used.

What do you love most about cycle touring?
I like the challenges that come with it – like have I trained enough to be able to do that climb from Wanaka to Crown Range and pushing myself to the limit and above what I thought to be the limit. 
But I also like the freedom that comes with it. If there is a nice sight somewhere along the road I’m usually able to pull over, take some photos and jump back on. If I were in a car I would have to find a parking spot or I wouldn’t see it because I would be focusing on driving the car too much. And not to mention the freedom of not thinking – it’s just me, my bike and my camera (and possibly a travel companion and friend).

Can you tell us a little about your photography business and life in Scandinavia?
I am a semi-professional photographer and have published two books about the New Zealand bike ride as well as a couple of calendars since I started taking this more seriously in 2013. I have been photographing for almost 36 years now. So my bread and butter is at this point paid for by my work as a database developer.

Lille Ulven is a nickname or trail-name that I have been given by a fellow New Zealand bike traveler after apparently having had 17 steaks and a whole pizza – it means “little wolf” and incorporates more than just the amount of food I can inhale.

You really cannot mix Sweden, Norway and Denmark together when it comes to cycling. In Denmark and Sweden, they have a long cycling history, so you’ll find bike paths and new bike paths are being built. In Copenhagen, I am more afraid of being run over by a cyclist than I am afraid of being run over by a car. And well Denmark is rather flat – compared to Norway – which is why it’s sometimes referred to as pancake country.

In Norway you will find so-called gravel bike paths up a mountain or in areas where, if you start your bike ride too late in the afternoon, you’ll not get to a place where you can get dinner that day. Not to mention Norway has real mountains: steep with narrow roads and no shoulders for cyclists.

So while you would have no big trouble finding roads to use a road bike on in Denmark, if you wanted to cycle in Norway, you would really need at least a cross if not a mountain bike.

Where would you like to visit/cycle next?
There are a couple of places that I want to go to. Starting this year I will cycle a bit – just a few hours – in northern Denmark. Next year I have plans to visit Tennessee again and maybe I’ll have the chance to cycle the Natchez Trace and a round in Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains. And then I do want to do a four-week bike ride in Ireland.

But dream tours: if I can somehow find a way to make that kind of money, I would like to come back to New Zealand to stay at least three months, cycle as much as I can and stay at some places a little longer to enjoy the locations.

Wiebe took our 17-day Auckland to Christchurch guided cycle tour. Find full details here:
www.naturalhigh.co.nz/Auckland-Christchurch

If you’d like to see more photos from Wiebke’s trip, check out her website: www.lilleulven.com. She also has 2015 and 2016 calendars of her New Zealand bike trip available for sale online. Head here for previews.

cycling rotorua
Top image: Franz Josef Glacier.
Middle image: Gollum fishing at Hokitika.
Bottom image: Te Puia – Geyser.
All images courtesy of Lille Ulven.


Cycling ALL of New Zealand

cycling all of new zealandMichael recently posted on our Facebook wall:

“I’d like to cycle through ALL of New Zealand. Any suggestions? ;)”

We’ve got HEAPS of suggestions, Michael! Here are the regions we highly recommend visiting. It isn’t a complete list – you’d need a lifetime to see everything New Zealand has to offer – but it should provide a good starting point. Happy planning!

NORTH ISLAND

The Far North
Highlights: Cape Reinga with its windswept lighthouse and end-of-the-world feel, bodyboarding on Ninety Mile Beach.
Cycling option: Twin Coast Cycle Trail. Once fully completed this will run from Horeka to the Bay of Islands. Sections currently open for riding can be viewed here.

Bay of Islands
Highlights: Picture-postcard coastal scenery, the Waitangi National Reserve and Treaty House.

Coromandel
Highlights: Golden sand beaches, digging a natural spa bath at Hot Water beach, Cathedral Cove.

Rotorua
Highlights: Geysers, hot springs, bubbling mud pools and a fascinating Maori heritage.

Central Plateau
Highlights: The towering mountain peaks, active volcanoes and deep blue crater lakes of the Tongariro National Park, shimmering Lake Taupo.
Cycling option: Mountains to Sea Trail. This runs from Ohakune to Wanganui along local mountain biking trails, public roads and the river.

Wellington
Highlights: Café-hopping, great restaurants and bars, Te Papa museum, Weta Cave.
Cycling option: The Rimutaka Cycle Trail which runs from Wellington Harbour through the Rimutaka Mountain Range to the southern coast.

SOUTH ISLAND

Kaikoura
Marine wildlife, whale watching.

Christchurch
Highlights: A city on the up. Check out the Gap Filler projects, the Cardboard Cathedral or walk or bike in the Port Hills.

South Canterbury
Highlights: Beautiful Lake Tekapo, Mt Cook National Park, crystal-clear night skies.
Cycling option: Alps 2 Ocean Trail which runs from Mt Cook to to Oamaru.

North and Central Otago
Highlights: The Victorian buildings of Oamaru, blue and yellow-eyed penguin spotting, Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula

The Catlins
Highlights: Remote and rugged scenery, abundant wildlife.

Fiordland National Park
Highlights: The dramatic splendour of Milford Sound, the Te Anau to Milford Highway.

Queenstown Region
Highlights: Buzzing Queenstown with its bars, restaurants and stunning mountain scenery, picturesque Glenorchy, laidback Wanaka.
Cycling option: The Crown Ranges between Queenstown and Wanaka, one of New Zealand’s classic road rides.

The West Coast
Highlights: Wild, rugged scenery and exhilarating twists and turns, the Gates of Haast, Fox Glacier, the vibrant little town of Hokitika.

Nelson region
The city of Nelson, wine-tasting at one of the many wineries, Abel Tasman National Park, swimming at beautiful Totaranui.
Cycling option: The Great Taste Trail

Cycle hire options:
If you’re planning an extended cycling tour, our buy back scheme, which refunds half the purchase price if the bike is returned in reasonable condition, could be a good option. And don’t forget, we also offer combined bike and campervan rental.


Christchurch: New Zealand’s Comeback City

discover christchurch
The colourful containers of the RE:START Mall.
Several years on from the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, Christchurch is bouncing back. Here’s the inside scoop on what to see and do in this newly-thriving city.

The Cardboard Cathedral
Debate continues over the future of ChristChurch Cathedral, badly damaged after the 2011 earthquake. To fill the void, the Cardboard Cathedral was opened in 2013. Designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, this temporary structure – built using a variety of modern construction materials, from cardboard tubes to timber beams, structural steel and concrete – provides a symbol of hope and a place of hospitality and worship for the city and wider community. To view upcoming, events and services at the Cathedral, head to its website.

Re:START Mall
Over 50 boutique stores and food outlets, located in colourful shipping containers within the heart of the city. Re:START was a way of breathing life back into the CBD after the 2011 earthquake, but the mall has become a hugely-popular tourist spot in its own right. Open Monday – Friday: 10am – 5.30pm and Saturday and Sunday: 10am – 5.00pm.

Gap Filler Projects
A seriously cool initiative, Gap Filler plugs vacant sites within the city with cool, creative projects. Since 2010, the team have helped establish temporary cafes, live music events, poetry readings, outdoor cinemas and more. Because projects are constantly changing, the best way to discover what’s happening is to check out their website.

Christchurch Botanic Gardens
Christchurch is fondly known as the Garden City and for good reason – there’s an abundance of beautiful parks and charming residential gardens dotted all over the city. The Botanic Gardens are one of Christchurch’s most visited public spaces. Wander through on foot or discover their beauty from the water – Avon River Punting Tours float right through their floral splendour. If you’re planning a visit to Akaroa (1.5 hours drive from Christchurch) don’t miss The Giant’s House, home to colourful, oversized mosaic sculptures.

Port Hills
Only 10 minutes from Christchurch city centre, the hills provide a seemingly limitless network of tracks for walking, running and mountain biking – not to mention views that stretch from the Pacific Ocean to the Southern Alps. Full track details can be found on the Christchurch City Council website. Make sure you check the status of tracks before you head out as some routes remain closed due to rock falls.

Banks Peninsula and Akaroa
Beautiful beaches, a thriving artisan community and a vast network of walking and biking tracks are all good reasons to spend a day (or longer) on the peninsula. The small seaside township of Akaroa is home to boutique shops, craft galleries and delicious dining options. Another great way to discover the peninsula is to cycle the Little River Rail Trail, which runs from the edge of Christchurch to the township of Little River (approximately 49km). If you feel your legs aren’t up to the full distance, you can choose to ride shorter sections of the route and we can provide transfers to various access points for the trail.

Watch Andy showing TV journalist Jack Tame around Christchurch
Just before Christmas, Andy helped Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism and TV journalist Jack Tame film a short video about the awesomeness of Christchurch. Take a watch…

Don’t forget…Natural High is located in Christchurch. You’ll find us on Harewood Road, close to Christchurch International Airport. Pop in for bike hire, to book a tour or just to say hi!

Top image: Re:START Mall. Shelia Thomson.