Take A Look Inside Our Gear Shed

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

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

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

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

Have a good week,
Steve

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


At A Glance: New Tours For Summer 18/19

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

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

Highlights:

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

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

Highlights:

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

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

Highlights:

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

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

Highlights:

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

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

Steve


5 Charming Central Otago Towns Best Explored On Two Wheels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a good week,
Steve

Image: Clutha River Cruises


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

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

Have a good week,
Steve


New for Summer: 9 Day Northland Cycle Tour

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

Have a good week,
Steve


A Coast to Coast Experience 30 Years in the Making

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a good week,
Steve

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


Two Wheels Can Change Everything…

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

Have a good week,
Steve

Image: Michael Neubert


Here’s How To Tackle the Alps 2 Ocean In Its Entirety

The Alps 2 Ocean is New Zealand’s longest continuous cycle trail. Starting out from the foot of Aoraki/Mount Cook, it traverses through some of the South Island’s most spectacular scenery all the way to the coastal town of Oamaru.
 
It’s a trail you’ll definitely want to complete in its entirety – and we’ve got guided tours that allow you to do just that.
 
New for summer 2018/19 is the 7 day Alps 2 Ocean End to End tour. This epic cycling adventure allows you to experience the full 320km of the trail, as well as some additional highlights along the way.
 
The tour kicks off with a heli flight across the Tasman River to the official start point of the trail. From there, you’ll cycle through the vast tussock-lands of Mackenzie Country, taking in the beautiful blue waters of Lake Pukaki and the braided rivers and vineyards of the Waitaki Valley, before emerging into the sea air at Oamaru.
 
Handpicked accommodation is a key highlight of this tour – along the way you’ll stay at a mix of lodges, premium backcountry farmstays, motels and luxurious glamping tents. And because it’s fully supported, you won’t have to ride with your luggage – we’ll ensure this is safely delivered to your next overnight stop.
 
Wondering if you’re fit enough? You’ll cover an average daily distance of 60km, but you’ll need to be comfortable riding up to 80km per day if you’re planning to cycle the entire trail. You will, however, be able to ride at your own pace and the support vehicle will always be nearby to offer weary legs a rest. 

Two departure dates for summer 2018/19 are available: 20 November 2018 and 6 March 2019. These are guaranteed departures and spaces are limited, so get in touch today to assure your place. We also offer a shorter, 6 day Alps 2 Ocean tour – click here for details.

Have a great week,
Steve

P.S. This tour can include the use of a pedal-assist electric bike. These handle just like a regular bike, while giving you extra power to tackle hills, headwinds and longer distances. If you’d like to find out more about e-bike hire, send us an email.


A Roundup of New Zealand’s Most Iconic Multisport and Bike Events

New Zealand multisport and bike eventsSigning up for a multisport event or cycle race can be a great way to switch up your exercise regime, increase fitness or discover a new area of the country. If you’re in the mood for a new challenge, here’s a roundup of some of New Zealand’s most iconic events. 

One of the world’s longest running multisport events, the Coast to Coast traverses the width of the South Island, starting out at Kumara Beach on the West Coast and finishing at New Brighton Beach in Christchurch. Incorporating running, biking and kayaking stages, over 18 000 people have completed the event since 1983.

The 2019 race takes place on 8 and 9 February. If you’ve got the stamina, sign up for the Longest Day, which involves attempting the entire 243 kilometre course in one day. There are also two day and two day tandem events on offer. Early bird entry is now open on the website.

The 226 kilometre Challenge Wanaka triathlon takes place amongst the stunning lake and mountain scenery of Mount Aspiring National Park. Considered one of the world’s toughest long distance triathlon courses, the 2019 event is scheduled for 16 February. Half triathlon and various junior events are also on offer.

Looking for a straight-up bike race? The Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge is New Zealand’s largest cycle event, with a huge array of categories, including the ever-popular Bike Barn Round the Lake (a 1 lap, 160 kilometre circumnavigation of Lake Taupo), the Half the Lake (approximately 75 kilometres), and the Extreme Enduro (1280 kilometres). There are also various off-road and kids events taking place. This year’s event runs on 24 November.

In late summer, why not head to Christchurch for Le Race – a 100 kilometre ride from Cathedral Square to Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula. You can take on the whole distance as an individual, or as a two-person team. Alternatively, enter the Petite race, which ends at Little River for a total distance of 53 kilometres. The 2019 event will take place on Saturday 23 March.

Need bike hire for any of these events? We can supply high performance road bikes and mountain bikes. We also offer mountain bike skills training on local hills in either the South Island or North Island, so if you’re not a confident rider, or you’d like to improve your riding technique and gain an edge on the competition, get in touch today.

Have a great week,
Steve

P.S. Natural High’s Cecileah is a big fan of Spring Challenge, an all-woman adventure race. Read about her experiences in the 2017 event here.


Don’t Miss Our Big Bike Clearance Sale

Big bike clearance sale at Natural HighIs it time for a new bike? If your current model has seen better days, or you’re looking to add to your riding arsenal, make sure you swing by our second hand bike sale page.

At present, we’ve got leading-brand mountain, hybrid, touring, road and kids bikes available for purchase, as well as cycle accessories like panniers and trailers.

Looking for a commuting or path bike?
The Schwinn Sierra is a stylish choice for riders who want to cruise smooth trails, or coast to work in comfort.

Thinking of getting off the road and hitting up the trails?
We recommend the 2015 Specialized Pitch. This entry-level hardtail comes with a light aluminium frame and reliable 650b wheels.
From $450.

Contemplating clocking up the kilometres?
We have a very limited number of Surly Long Haul Truckers and Surly Disc Truckers. These top quality touring bikes come with front and rear racks, plus two bottle cages.
From $1700.

Ready to race?
Our range of high performance road bikes have proven themselves in some of New Zealand’s biggest races, including Coast to Coast, the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge and Le Race.
Various models from $599 to $799.

Want full-suspension?
The Avanti Torrent’s alloy frame is stiff, strong and guaranteed to push your trail riding to the max.
From $2500.

All the bikes we offer for sale are in great condition and have been regularly serviced by our in-house bike mechanics. Drop us a line if you have any questions, or swing by our Auckland or Christchurch branches to view in person. We’d love to meet you!

Have a great week,
Steve

P.S. Don’t forget we also offer bike servicing at both our branches from as little as $70. Email us to organise a time, or give us a call on 03 982 2966 (Christchurch) or 09 257 4673 (Auckland).

P.P.S. We’ve also got panniers, trailers and other accessories available for sale. Take a look here.