So Many Ways To Cycle Banks Peninsula

Cycle rides in ChristchurchSitting just to the south of Christchurch and overflowing with beautiful bays and picturesque villages, Banks Peninsula is well worth a detour from the city. It’s also crammed full of cycling opportunities. 
 
Self-guided Little River Railtrail
The Little River Railtrail begins in the Christchurch suburb of Hornby and follows the route of a 19th century railway to Little River. Highlights along the way include Lake Ellesmere/Te Waihora and its resident birdlife – as many as 98,000 birds can be nesting along its shoreline at any one time.

Several self-guided trips incorporate the trail, from a fast, two-day trip to a four-day jaunt which also introduces you to Diamond Harbour and the Port Hills.

Little River Railtrail Guided Daytrip
Short on time? This guided trip along the Little River Railtrail ends at an award-winning café in Little River. Quiet roads, gentle gradients and beautiful scenery make this a fantastic outing for families and cyclists with little to no riding experience. Read more here >>

3 Day Self-Guided Banks Peninsula Cycle Tour
This tour incorporates a mix of on- and off-road cycling along twisting roads, remote gravel tracks and disused rail trail. For those who relish a challenge, rugged single track also awaits!

There’s plenty to discover as you pedal. The rocky coastline of the peninsula is home to New Zealand’s endangered Hector’s dolphin, penguin colonies and native fur seals. The charming town of Akaroa makes a good lunch or overnight stop, and is Canterbury’s oldest town, founded in 1840 by French settlers.
 
With a little under 5000m of climbing over three days this tour is not for the faint-hearted, but it’s perfect for hill lovers and adventure seekers. Read more here >>

Get in touch to discuss any of these trips. We can also help with bike hire.

Have a good week,
Steve


Cycle The City: Dunedin

Take a spin around Dunedin, where abundant wildlife, stunning scenery and a bustling city are just waiting to be discovered.

Harbour and Peninsula Cycle Trail Network
For picturesque views of the harbour and city, follow the cycle trail which runs from St Leonards on the eastern side of the harbour to the peninsula. (Cycling on the peninsula is a mix of cycle trail and on-road riding.) The going is mostly flat and there are plenty of pitstop opportunities along the way. If you make it all the way to Taiaroa Head, pop into the Royal Albatross Centre to view the only mainland breeding colony of albatross in the world.
 
City to St Clair Beach
Dunedin’s favourite surf beach is a popular hangout spot, with cafes and bars overlooking the ocean. It’s a flat ride to the beach from the city. Take your swimming gear for a dip in the heated salt water pool (open October to March).
 
Signal Hill
Make it to the top of Signal Hill and you’ll be rewarded with some of the best views in the city. Various MTB trails crisscross the hill, from Grade 2 to 5. Entrance to the park is through the Logan Park High School car park off Butts Road.
 
Whare Flat
These lesser known MTB trails are best suited to advanced riders. Expect tight, technical riding with plenty of natural and man-made obstacles. They’re located a 15-minute drive from the city.
 
Otago Central Rail Trail
Not officially in Dunedin, but the historic Taieri Gorge Railway will whisk you from the city to Middlemarch, the starting point of the trail. From there, it’s 152 kilometres to Clyde, along mainly flat, off-road trails. Guided options along this classic Great Ride are available – take a look here and here

We can help with bike hire and campervan hire – just send us an email and we’ll get you sorted.

Have a good week,
Steve

Image: Early morning Otago Harbour by Samuel Mann. CC BY 2.0.


Cycle The City: Wellington

cycle the city wellingtonFrom easy-going city cruising to hilly, bush-clad landscapes and coastal trails, Wellington offers plenty of cycling opportunities.

The waterfront
For a scenic city spin, point your bike towards the waterfront. Start at downtown Queen’s Wharf, then follow the cycle path along Frank Kitts Park, Waitangi Park, Oriental Parade and Evans Bay Parade. Stop and admire the numerous artworks and sculptures that dot the route, or fuel up in one of the many cafes, restaurants and bars.

Makara Peak
A popular choice for Wellington mountain bikers, Makara Peak is just 15 minutes from the city and offers 30 km of trails. Some are relatively flat and gentle, while others are more challenging!

Skyline Track
12 kilometres long, but it can be broken down into stages thanks to the many entry and exit points along the route. The track runs from Carmichael Street in Johnsonville and goes across to Makara Saddle. On a clear day, you’ll get stunning views of the Kaikoura Ranges, Malborough Sounds and the Wellington Harbour.

Pencarrow Coast Road
A pleasant 16 kilometre return journey that starts at Eastbourne and ends at the Pencarrow Lighthouse – famous for being the first permanent lighthouse installed in New Zealand. Keep an eye out for coastal wildlife as you pedal – the area is renowned for penguins and other sea creatures

Rimutaka Cycle Trail
115 kilometres in total, the Rimutaku Cycle Trail takes two to three days to complete and passes through the Petone foreshore, Wellington Harbour and Wairarapa coast. Shorter, more manageable sections include:

  • Petone to Maymorn. Starting out in historic Petone, just south of Hutt Valley, this route follows an easy cycling route, running along parkland and through various sealed and gravel paths on the Hutt River Trail.
  • Maymorn to Cross Creek. The second part of the trail eases into the Rimutaka Ranges and includes a mixture of bush tracks and rail trails.

We can help with bike hire for any of these routes – send us an email and we’ll get you sorted.

Have a good week,
Steve

Image: Wellington by Andrea Schaffer. CC BY 2.0.


Book Now For The Best Autumn Riding

best autumn riding nzIt’s officially autumn in New Zealand – the perfect time of year to embark on a cycle tour! Keep reading to see which tours are departing over the next few months…

The West Coast of the South Island is a must-ride destination for any cyclist and several autumn tours will let you experience its thrilling twists and turns. Cross the Alps twice on the 10 Day West Coast Road Cycle Tour Christchurch to Queenstown which departs 26 March. If you’re pressed for time, take a look at the 6 Day West Coast Queenstown to Christchurch Cycle which leaves the depot on 12 March. 

From the pristine beauty of the Marlborough Sounds to the crashing coastline of the West Coast, the 7 Day Nelson Lakes Road tour will introduce you to the upper South Island’s most scenic highlights. This tour departs Picton on 20 March.

Temperatures are still in the high twenties at the top of the country, where sandy white beaches, sub-tropical forests and ancient volcanic headlands await. The 9 Day Northland Cycle includes stops at Cape Reinga, the northernmost point of New Zealand, and the magical Bay of Islands. 7 April departure is guaranteed!

More of a trail rider? The 5 Day West Coast Wilderness Trail tour has a 25 March departure date. Cycle through dense rainforests, glacial rivers, lakes and wetlands and finish up with a ride on the TranzAlpine railway, one of the top ten train journeys in the world.

The 6 Day Alps to Ocean Cycle tour has guaranteed departures right through autumn. This is the longest continuous ride in New Zealand, and descends over 2000 ft from the lofty heights of Mount Cook to the coastal town of Oamaru. Along the way experience stunning alpine scenery, golden tussock land, and rejuvenating hot pools.

All these tours are fully-guided and include all accommodation, most meals and daily luggage transfer. You’ll also have the luxury of being able to hop aboard the support vehicle should you feel like a breather at any point.

Get in touch today to check availability.

Have a good week,

Steve


Cycle the City: Auckland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a good week,
Steve

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


5 Reasons To Choose a Guided Cycle Tour

alps 2 ocean cycle trail

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

Routes to suit all level of rider

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

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

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

You don’t have to carry your luggage

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

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

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

Best options for less experienced riders

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

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

Moderate tours 

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

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

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

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

Have a good week,

Steve


5 Of The Best Cycle Rides In Christchurch

Cycle rides in Christchurch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a good week,

Steve

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


3 Off The Beaten Track Rides For 2019

3 off the beaten track rides in NZ

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great week,
Steve


Get Out There This Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Discover How The Kaikoura Earthquake Changed The Landscape Forever

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

Papatea Fault, Waipapa Bay

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

“Dinosaur Eggs” at Gooch’s Beach

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

Limestone Rocks, Okiwi Bay

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

Hope Spring, Kaikoura

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

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

Have a good week,

Steve

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

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