Check Out The Latest Additions To Our Hire Fleet

Christmas came early at Natural High! Every year, we update our hire fleet in order to offer the most up-to-date models and we’ve been busy unwrapping the latest arrivals.
 
One new addition for summer 2017/18 is the Specialized Tarmac Sport. Featuring a carbon fibre frame, durable DT R460 wheels and crisp Shimano 105 shifting, this is a well equipped, great looking and top performing road bike.

We’ve also taken possession of the Avanti Giro AR Gravel Road Bike. With its light, alloy frame and rack mounts, this is a versatile bike that can be used for road touring and bikepacking, with some gravel riding.

Both these bikes are so new that we haven’t got them up on the website yet – send us an email if you’d like to lock in hire dates!
 
Looking to hire a mountain bike, children’s bike, or bike accessories like pannier bags or bike racks? We’ve got you covered. Our hire fleet includes high-end tourers, comfortable hybrids, super-tough mountain bikes, kid’s bikes and a full range of accessories including car racks, seat bags, panniers and bob 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 off on your adventures. You’ll also be supplied with a lock, multi tool, tyre levers, spare tube and repair kit.
 
If you’re planning some summer cycling action, check out your hire options here. 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 wonderful Christmas and New Year  – we’ll be back with more cycling inspiration and ideas in 2018!

Steve, Cecileah and the Natural High team


Your Questions About Guided Cycle Touring Answered

Your Questions About Guided Cycle Touring AnsweredSummer has well and truly arrived in New Zealand and we’re already enjoying long, sunny days and balmy temperatures – perfect conditions for cycle touring. If you’re wondering whether to clip-in and join us this season, we’ve got answers!

How fit do I need to be?
You don’t have to be an avid, hard-core biker to join one of our guided tours. Each trip we offer is rated for overall difficulty, based on the daily distances and the terrain covered. Here’s an overview of the three levels:

1 – Easy. These tours are suitable for people who just want to ride, relax and enjoy the scenery. They cover lower distances per day – around 40 to 50 km – over relatively flat terrain. If you’ve never embarked on a cycle tour before, this grade provides a perfect starting point.
2 – Moderate. Moderate tours cover longer daily distances – around 50 to 80 km – with more hills. To undertake a moderate tour, you’ll ride once or twice a week at home and be comfortable tackling the occasional hill climb.
3 – Challenging. These tours can cover over 100 km a day, across rolling (and sometimes steep) terrain with repeated climbs. If you ride two to three times a week and enjoy pushing your limits, these tours are for you.

What happens if I need to take a break from the bike during the day?
A support vehicle will always be on hand to give you a rest from the saddle, or shuttle you up the steep bits.

Will I have to ride with my luggage?
No, we’ll ensure your bags are safely delivered to your hotel room. We also organise all food stops and refreshments along the way.

What will the weather be like?
All our guided tours run through the summer and autumn months, which offer the most settled weather. Rain is still a possibility, (so bring warm and waterproof clothing), but generally you’ll enjoy clear, sunny days and warm to hot temperatures.

What types of accommodation will I stay in?
Every night you’ll kick back and relax at carefully-selected, comfortable hotels. Where possible, we pick properties that provide a deeper insight into a region, or a more memorable experience, like a farmstay or historic settlement.

Is food included?
Most of your meals are included in the price of your tour. These vary between shared, family-style dinners at the end of the day, big lunches at scenic spots along the route, and opportunities to dine independently and discover local cafes and restaurants. Check the individual tour for exact meal details.

If you’re feeling newly-inspired to discover New Zealand by bike, you’ll find a full list of upcoming tours here. Whether you want to experience pristine alpine landscapes, brilliant blue lakes or rugged coastlines, we’re sure to have an adventure to suit.

Have a great week,
Steve

P.S. Got a question not covered here? Email us at team@naturalhigh.co.nz.


Cycle Touring On The Banks Peninsula: Gruelling Uphills Studded With Scenery

Cycle touring on the Banks PeninsulaStunning coastal views, quiet backroads, and plenty of big hills – Christchurch’s Banks Peninsula isn’t just a picturesque cycle destination, it’s a challenging one, too.

Our three day, self-guided Banks Peninsula tour offers an enticing introduction to this little-known region. With just under 5000 metres of climbing, this is not an adventure for the faint-hearted (we’ve given it a grade 4 difficult rating), but if you enjoy pushing your limits amidst spectacular scenery, read on!

The tour encompasses a mix of on and off-road riding, including twisting backroads, remote gravel tracks, and a disused rail trail. There are also opportunities to incorporate rugged single track.

Starting and finishing at the Natural High headquarters in Christchurch, the first day will see you careening through the Port Hills and along the Little River Rail Trail. Hugging the shoreline of the vast Te Waihora/ Lake Ellesmere, and it’s smaller twin Te Roto o Wairewa/Lake Forsyth, this trail offers relaxed, easy riding through one of the most diverse bird populations in the country. Keep your eyes peeled for shags, bitterns, black-backed gulls (karoro), shoverlers, pied stilts, wrybills and pukeko.

Day two takes you past charming bays with brilliant blue water, to the historic French and British settlement of Akaroa. Here you’ll find a thriving community of galleries, craft stores and cafes, and plenty of options for further outdoor adventure. Head to Flea Bay to admire the largest little penguin colony on mainland New Zealand, or step aboard a sea cruise to explore sheer cliffs and sea caves not visible from land.

You’ve got four big climbs to contend with on your final day. Luckily, the route is peppered with picturesque views, giving you plenty of excuses to pull over and catch your breath!

This is a self-guided tour, which means you can ride at any time. Although we recommend three days, it’s also possible to incorporate extra riding, or spend longer at certain spots along the way.

Rental of a Specialized Rockhopper Sport 29er mountain bike fitted with pannier rear rack, rear rack bag, cycle helmet, basic bike computer, and full repair gear is included. You can also upgrade to an Avanti ARC1, and/or Garmin Edge 810 GPS computer, pre-loaded with day-to-day route navigation and offering live route tracking.

Your tour also includes detailed trip notes and accommodation suggestions.

Check out the tour map on the website, and if you have any questions, send us an email.

Have a great week,
Steve

P.S. Want to investigate some more tough touring options? Check out our 6 Day Self-Guided Catlins Coast tour, from Dunedin to Invercargill via Bluff. Running through one of New Zealand’s most isolated regions, this tour demands high levels of fitness and touring experience.


Three Most Scenic Roads In New Zealand

Three Most Scenic Roads In New Zealand: west coast of the South IslandWondering which of New Zealand’s many scenic roads to bike or drive? Here are our three top picks.

The Lost World Highway
New Zealand’s oldest touring route stretches for 155km from the North Island’s Central Plateau to Taranaki on the west coast. Built on colonial bridle paths formed in the late 19th century, the road features four mountain saddles, one spooky tunnel, and one snaking river gorge. Stop to pick up a passport in Whangamomona – this small village declared itself a republic in 1989.

West Coast of the South Island
Named one of the top ten coastal drives in the world by Lonely Planet, this is a wild, rugged, and totally unforgettable landscape. The route wriggles its way along the surf-pounded coast, throwing up endless snapshots of lush, green rainforest, glacial rivers and intriguing geological features. With numerous walks, towns, beaches and history to explore along the way, this is a route well worth taking slowly.

Queenstown to Glenorchy
With Lake Wakatipu on one side, the Remarkables to your rear, and Paradise ahead (literally – there is a town called Paradise), this short, 45 minute drive packs a mighty scenic punch. You might recognise the surroundings: scenes from all three of the Lord of the Rings movies were shot in the area, as was the 2013 TV series Top of the Lake.

Fancy putting one (or all) of these routes on your New Zealand itinerary? We can help you arrange bike hire, campervan hire, or combined camper and bike hire. Many of our guided cycle tours also travel along the west coast of the South Island. Get in touch if you have any questions.

Have a great week,
Steve

P.S. If you’re contemplating a campervan tour this summer, please note that vans sell out quickly over the warmer months. We recommend booking early to avoid disappointment! Check out your options on the website, and then get in touch today.


Meet Natural High’s New Bike Mechanic

natural high bike mechanic leonNatural High’s newest team member is mechanic Leon Desgagnes, who hails from Montreal in Quebec. Read on to learn about his biking background.

Tell us how you got into biking?
I’ve been racing on the road and taking part in cyclocross since I was 12 years old. It all started when I stopped playing football and was looking for a new sport. I decided to try cycling because I’d seen my dad doing it my whole childhood, and I had a friend who was into it. At the age of 15, my dad enrolled me in a bike mechanic school and this is how I learned the basics. Following that, I worked in a bike shop where I was able to improve my abilities. I also helped out at events such as stage races, one-day races and charity rides. Last year, I decided to stop racing to concentrate on my studies, and I started mountain biking with my co-workers just for fun.

What’s your favourite ride (either in New Zealand or overseas) and why?
The ascent of Mount Mitchell in North Carolina, USA. It is a 45 km climb, really challenging with a lot of scenery and scenic views. Bonus: it’s the highest peak in the east of North America.

What’s your favourite spot for after-biking drinks?
Anywhere, as long as there is good beer, and the whole crew is there.

What do you like to do when you’re not riding?
Hang out with my friends, watch sports (football, hockey, American football, basketball or baseball), or listen to music

What made you want to work for Natural High?
The fact that Natural High offers a convenient opportunity for people who want to discover New Zealand on a bike. Indeed, cycling is my favourite way to discover a new place and I think everybody should have the chance to try it.

Do you have any “must-do” rides or destinations?
I’ve ridden in France, Spain and Italy and I have to say these countries offer a really nice playground, and have a magnificent cycling culture!

What’s your top tip for keeping your bike in perfect riding condition?
Always keep the components clean and check it periodically to take care of any small problems before they get worse.

Leon is planning to travel across New Zealand during his time in the country. If you have any must-do spots, let him know via our Facebook page.

Have a great week,
Steve

P.S. For more advice on keeping your bike in great working condition, check out this blog post: Extend the Life Expectancy of Your Bike with this Quick and Easy Bike Service. And, if you’d like Leon or one of our other mechanics to cast an expert eye over your bike, book in for a service. Give us a call on 03 982 2966 (Christchurch) or 09 257 4673 (Auckland) to organise a time.


Bush Bashing, Mud and Map-Reading Mishaps: Spring Challenge 2017 Recap

Spring Challenge 2017 RecapHi all, Cecileah here. Well, we made it to the finish line of Spring Challenge South in Geraldine! Here’s a recap of our race.

My team and I took part in the six-hour race. Like all the competitors, we started with a fast raft along the Rangitata River. From there, we travelled into the hills around Little Mount Peel. The route involved some bush bashing and a very muddy descent.

The bike through the Peel Forest was a mixed bag, and involved a course change due to high water levels in the Orari River. Finally, we had to tackle the orienteering stage, which proved something of a struggle for our tired minds and bodies!

My teammates were carrying ongoing training injuries so we were pretty slow on the day. I felt fine after the event and was pleased with my quick recovery (obviously didn’t go hard enough)! And I thoroughly enjoyed every mouthful I ate 24 hours post-race!

The 2018 Spring Challenge South will be held in Westport and I’m already contemplating entering the nine-hour event. I just need to find some teammates silly enough to join me – preferably that includes someone with good navigation skills! – and stop doubting and back myself. Fingers crossed I can get a team together when registration opens on 1 April 2018.

If reading this has got you inspired to tackle an adventure or cycle event of your own, entries are still open for New Zealand’s largest cycle race, the Lake Taupo Challenge, which takes place on Saturday 25 November. Or how about tackling the Motatapu on 10 March 2018? Set against the stunning backdrop of the the Wanaka to Queenstown high country, this is one of New Zealand’s favourite off-road sporting events and offers five different categories, including a 47km mountain bike race.

If you’re coming from overseas for a cycle or adventure event, we have top-quality mountain, road and performance bikes available to hire. Take a look at your options on the website, or drop us an email

Have a great week,
Cecileah

P.S. 1800 women took part in this year’s Spring Challenge. Remarkably, only one second separated the top two nine-hour category teams at the finish line, with the Pak n Save team just claiming the victory from Torpedo 7.


Time to Start Planning Your Summer Cycle Tour of New Zealand?

Time to Start Planning Your Summer Cycle Tour of New Zealand?The long, light-filled days of summer are coming! If you’re dreaming about a New Zealand odyssey (and maybe escaping a northern hemisphere winter), now’s the perfect time to start planning.

Whether you fancy an all-inclusive guided tour, a go-at-your-own-pace self-guided tour, or a combined campervan and cycle road trip, we’re sure to have an adventure to suit.

Want an in-depth New Zealand cycle experience? Then take a look at our 15 Day Christchurch to Christchurch Guided Road Tour. You’ll get up close and personal with some of the South Island’s most memorable scenery, spend a night on a working sheep farm, and immerse yourself in the thrills of Queenstown.

Prefer to roam free? Our 6 Day Self Guided Road Tour from Christchurch to Queenstown takes you through the heart of the South Island via the vast Canterbury Plains and the Lindis Pass.

Looking to cover more ground? Then hire a campervan and clock up the kilometres in comfort. Add in bike hire and you’ll get to experience New Zealand’s many off-road delights, as well.

This summer, we’re also offering e-bike hire on selected guided cycle tours. If you’ve always thought you aren’t fit enough to attempt a multi-day cycle tour, riding an electric bike could be just the confidence-boost you need.

Our e-bike models (the Avanti Montari E and the Avanti Discovery Low E) handle just like a regular bike, but give you extra power to fly up hills, combat headwinds, and cover longer distances.

If you think you’d like to include e-bike hire as part of a guided cycle tour, get in touch today. Some tours aren’t suitable for e-bikes and availability is limited. Send us an email with your requirements.

And if you have a question about any of our tours, campervans, or cycle hire options, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re here to make planning your summer cycle tour of New Zealand as easy and stress-free as possible.

Have a great week,
Steve

P.S. Cecileah is heading to Geraldine this weekend for Spring Challenge! She’ll tell you all about it in the next newsletter.


Three Places to Spy The Famously Cheeky New Zealand Kea

Three Places to Spy The Famously Cheeky New Zealand KeaExplorer Charlie Douglas wrote of New Zealand kea, “For curiosity and impudence the kea takes the record among all the feathered creation…”

These smart, playful and frequently fiendish alpine parrots are a popular sighting amongst the mountains of the South Island…despite their destructive tendencies.

Kea often supplement their traditional diet of bugs and berries with windscreen rubber, loose clothing and brightly-coloured objects. When it comes to food, kea are fiercely determined, and stealing from bags and vehicles is well within their capabilities.

Unfortunately, kea aren’t popular with everyone. Kea attacks on sheep led to the initiation of a legal government bounty in the late 1860s, and up until the early 1970s around 150,000 kea were killed. Today, kea are a protected species and while exact numbers are unknown, estimates suggest that fewer than 5,000 exist across an area of 3.5 million hectares.

Kea only live in the South Island, most commonly in and around alpine areas. They are frequently sighted at the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, and in Arthur’s Pass National Park. When kea are around, keep a close eye on your belongings, and don’t be tempted to feed them.

Our upcoming 15 Day Southern Alps Road Tour offers numerous opportunities to watch kea in action, with stops in Arthur’s Pass National Park, and the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. Other highlights include cycling the scenic west coast road, a night on a working merino sheep station, and a day in vibrant Queenstown. This tour gets underway on 13 December in Christchurch. Read more here, or get in touch to reserve your place.

Have a good week,
Steve

P.S. While you’re searching for kea, you might also want to keep an eye out for the South Island Kōkako. This ancient bird was listed as extinct until 2013, when credible sightings prompted it to be reclassified. A $10,000 reward is on offer for anyone who can confirm the bird is still alive. Find out more here.

Image: Andrea Schaffer


Stepping Up the Spring Challenge Training in Hanmer Springs

Stepping Up the Spring Challenge Training in Hanmer SpringsHi all, Cecileah here. I spent last weekend in scenic Hanmer Springs (right), training for the fast-upcoming Spring Challenge (29 September – 1 October in Geraldine).

Hanmer is a brilliant destination for a spot of outdoor adventure. It’s only a 90 minute drive from Christchurch, has lots of great riding options, and offers a good variety of accommodation, cafés and restaurants. We stayed at the fantastic Village Lake Apartments, which are conveniently located right next to town.

My Spring Challenge team were one of four groups (two from Christchurch and two from Nelson), who joined Coach Ray from Qwik Kiwi for two days of mountain biking and navigation skills training. Spring Challenge is a multisport event that involves mountain biking, hiking and rafting, as well as mapping and navigation skills. You have to be physically fit, but you also have to be able to read a map.

On Saturday morning, we started off on the easy tracks around the Hanmer Forest Range. The mountain bike section of the Challenge isn’t technically demanding, but the more confident you feel in the saddle, the more enjoyable you’ll find the experience. One useful skill we practiced was emergency braking. There are record numbers attending this year’s Challenge, and the riding is likely to be congested. Later, we moved onto some of the intermediate tracks, like Swoop and Swamp.

We also spent time with the compass, working to find bearings between checkpoints. We made mistakes but were able to learn from them, and we all felt that our navigation skills improved over the course of the day.

On Sunday, we put everything we’d learned into practice and took part in a mini-event, which saw us mountain biking and hiking to collect a number of checkpoints. All in all, the weekend provided a great opportunity to hone our skills and work as a team – and we had a lot of fun as well.

Although the South Island Spring Challenge is sold out (spaces always fill up quickly), you can still take part in the North Island version of the event, on 13-15 October 2017 in Auckland.

Or, take a look at New Zealand’s largest cycle race, the Lake Taupo Challenge, which this year takes place on Saturday 25 November. If you’re coming from overseas for a cycle or adventure event, we have top-quality mountain, road and performance bikes available to hire. Browse your options here, or drop us an email.

Have a good week,
Cecileah

P.S. We also offer mountain bike skills training on local hills in either the South Island or North Island. Find out more here.


Cycling the Rainbow Road – a True, Backcountry Cycling Experience

Meet Caroline and Jenny Whittaker

Meet Caroline and Jenny Whittaker. This mother and daughter pair biked from Christchurch to Picton back in February, along a route that included the Rainbow Road, and the coast road from Blenheim to Picton.

Cycling the Rainbow Road in New Zealand

For Caroline, experiencing the rugged, isolated terrain of the Rainbow Road was one of the highlights of the trip. Running from Hanmer Springs to St Arnaud, this 112 kilometre route serves up an impressive backdrop of forest, high mountains, tussock and scree. Various huts and camping areas are available along the way – Caroline and Jenny stayed at the Sedgemere Sleepout.

Specialized CrossTrail

Caroline hired one of our Specialized CrossTrails for this trip. Her verdict? “Knobbly enough tyres for the tracks, but quick enough for roads.” Jenny brought her own bike from the UK.

Back home, Caroline generally rides about twice a week with friends. Although she’s completed many day rides, this was her first multi-day trip – and she says she would have loved to have done more. In fact, she’s hoping to come back for a six week trip once she’s retired!

Thanks for sharing your experiences, Caroline and Jenny. If you’d like to cycle the Rainbow Road, check out the Rainbow Station website for seasonal restrictions and toll details.

Have a good week,
Steve

All Images: Caroline and Jenny Whittaker