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.


Family-Sized Portions Of Fun To Be Found On The Great Taste Trail

Dishing up family fun on the Great Taste TrailOver the recent school holidays, Steve and I took the kids to Tasman, at the top of the South Island, to sample the many delights of the Great Taste Trail.

One of New Zealand’s Great Rides, the full trail offers 174 kilometres of riding. Since our children are only 7, 10 and 11, we opted to sample two, shorter segments.

First up was the Richmond to Mapua Ferry section, which winds its way alongside the scenic Waimea Inlet to the popular beach and recreation reserve on Rabbit Island. From here, you can jump aboard a ferry to the vibrant Mapua Wharf and village.

The other section we rode was from Norris Gully to Wai-iti Domain, through Spooners Tunnel. The kids loved the tunnel! It’s not lit, so take torches or bike lights. At 1.4 kilometres long, it’s New Zealand’s longest decommissioned rail tunnel, and the sixth longest tunnel open to cycling or walking in the world! Definitely worth a visit.

The riding on both these sections is easy and mostly off-road, making them a great option for families or less confident riders. The boys rode a Specialized Fatboy and Avanti Tracker, while Anahera tested out an Avanti Black Thunder. Steve and I were riding our usual bikes: a Specialized Camber 29 and an Avanti Torrent 650b. Mountain bikes or hybrids are equally suitable for this trail.

Given its name, food options are plentiful along the route. You’ll find the curious combination of homemade baking and tame eels at Jester House, and excellent hot chips at The Smokehouse in Mapua.

Tasman’s mild climate makes the Great Taste Trail a viable cycling option all year round. With multiple access points and loop options, it lends itself to leisurely day-rides, with plenty of time to soak up the sights and tastes along the way. Just bear in mind that during winter (30 April to 28 September 2018) the Mapua Ferry only operates on weekends, and during school and public holidays. You’ll find the full timetable on their website.

And if you’d like any additional information about riding this route, or you’d like to organise bike hire, send us an email.

Have a good week,
Cecileah

P.S. Other trails well suited to autumn and winter riding include the Twin Coast Cycle Trail, at the top of the North Island, and the Great Lake Trail around Taupo. See more details here.


Introducing The Paparoa Track, The West Coast’s Newest MTB Experience

Introducing The Paparoa Track, The West Coast’s Newest MTB ExperienceThe West Coast of the South Island is fast becoming a must-do mountain biking destination and they’ll be one more reason to visit come 2019, with the completion of the Paparoa Track. Built as a memorial to the 29 men who died in the 2010 Pike River Mine disaster, the track is set to become New Zealand’s 10th Great Walk and will also be open to mountain bikers.

Once complete, the 55 kilometre trail will stretch from Blackball in the south to Punakaiki on the coast, providing access to the remote alpine scenery of the Paparoa Range. An additional Pike29 Memorial Track will give walkers and bikers the option to view the site of the former Pike River Mine.

Mountain bikers can expect long, steep climbs, narrow track and unpredictable obstacles. The route will be classed a Grade 4: Advanced, meaning you will need good gear and plenty of experience. Plan to spend one night on the track, although fitter riders will be able to complete the route in one day. There will be two Great Walks huts available along the route, which must be booked in advance.

Unlike the Heaphy Track which only allows access to mountain bikers between 1 May and 30 November, the Paparoa Track will be open to bikers all year-round.

Rich in mining history, the Paparoa Range is renowned for its dramatic limestone karst landscapes, thriving rainforests and breathtaking views of the Southern Alps. The combined walking and biking track is set to open in April 2019 – we’ll keep you posted on its progress!

Have a good week,
Steve

P.S. Other top trails on the West Coast include the Heaphy Track, the Old Ghost Road and the West Coast Wilderness Trail.


Experience The Thrills And Spills Of Track Cycling at Cambridge’s Avantidrome

Waikato River TrailsThe New Zealand cycling team has turned in some stellar performances at the recent Commonwealth Games. Sam Gaze and Anton Cooper claimed gold and silver in a dramatic mountain bike race, Olympic rower turned cyclist Hamish Bond won bronze in the time trial, and the track cycling team collected a record 12 medals in the velodrome. 

If you’ve ever fancied having a go at track cycling, Cambridge’s Avantidrome is the place to go.

The Waikato velodrome – recently used as a training venue by the Canadian women’s cycling team prior to the Commonwealth Games – offers one hour, introductory sessions. Incorporating basic knowledge on how to ride a track bike, as well as the opportunity to experience riding on the velodrome, this is a great way to get a feel for the thrill of the track!

Have-a-Go sessions cost just $25 per person and include the use of a bike and helmet, as well as support from an experienced coach. Sessions run regularly at the weekends – click here to book online.

Aside from the Avantidrome, the Waikato region is home to hundreds of kilometres of cycle trails. Laid-back riders and families might like to check out Te Awa – The Great New Zealand River Ride, which offers 70km of smooth trail riding along the Waikato River. The route stretches from Ngaruawahia in the north to Lake Karapiro in the south, taking in waterfalls, historic Maori sites, shops, cafes and wineries along the way.

If challenging terrain is more your thing, head for the Waikato River Trails (image above). While some sections of the trail are easy-going, the Waipapa and Arapuni segments are graded 4 and 5. Both offer challenging downhills and unpredictable riding through native and exotic forest. Other impressive features along the route include two massive hydro dams, and the 80m long Mangawera Suspension Bridge.

We can hook you up with bike hire for any of these trails. Take a look at your options here, and drop us a line if you’d like some advice or recommendations.

Have a good week,
Steve

P.S. Like to give mountain biking a go, but not feeling that confident about your skills? Take a look at our half-day mountain bike training courses. These offer structured training with a qualified instructor in either the North or South Island. Find out more here.


Three Places In New Zealand To Spot Penguins

penguin spotting in new zealandNew Zealand’s shores are regularly graced by three breeds of penguin: the Fiordland crested penguin, the yellow-eyed penguin, and the little blue penguin. If you’d love to catch a glimpse of these memorable creatures, put the following three places on your itinerary:

Curio Bay, Catlins
A number of yellow-eyed penguins (also known as hoiho) nest in the area around Curio Bay, and can frequently be seen waddling in from the surf at the end of a long day. These are one of the rarest penguins in the world with an estimated total population in New Zealand of between 6000 and 7000. They are very timid birds, so if you are lucky enough to spot one, keep your distance. Curio Bay is also home to Hector’s dolphin, fur seals, and sea lions, as well as the fossilised remains of an ancient forest. The viewing platform overlooking the forest provides a good vantage point for wildlife watching.
 
Cycle options:  6 Day Self Guided Catlins Coast Tour. This tough tour will take you from Dunedin to Invercargill, via Bluff. Prefer guided? Our 7 Day Queenstown to Christchurch Road Cycle Tour includes a stop at Curio Bay.

Akaroa, Banks Peninsula
Little blue penguins can be spotted right across New Zealand, but the largest mainland colony can be found in Flea Bay, on the Banks Peninsula. Due to the sensitive nature of these animals, only guided groups are taken into the breeding colony. Pohatu Penguins offers a variety of different tours. The best time for viewing is between the end of August to the end of December.

Cycle options: Our 3 Day Self Guided Banks Peninsula Cycle Tour gives you ample time to lock in a tour with Pohatu Penguins.

Munro Beach, near Lake Moeraki
The Fiordland crested penguin or tawaki, is one of the rarest of New Zealand’s mainland penguins and therefore much harder to spot. One option is to head to Munro Beach, near Lake Moeraki, 30 km north of Haast. A walking track leads from Lake Moeraki to the beach, and guided tours are conducted from the Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge. Fiordland crested penguins can also be seen in Milford Sound and at Jackson Bay. The best time of year to see tawaki is during the breeding season from July to November, and they can sometimes be seen during the moulting season from mid-January to early March.

Cycle options: Several of our self-guided tours take in the west coast of the South Island, enabling you to schedule a stop at Munro Beach. Take a look at our 5 Day Self Guided Road Cycle Tour Christchurch to Queenstown, 8 Day Self Guided Road Cycle Tour Christchurch to Queenstown, or 10 Day Self Guided Road Cycle Tour Queenstown to Christchurch.

Got questions about any of these tours? Don’t hesitate to send us an email.
 
Have a good week,
Steve

P.S. Both our Auckland and Christchurch branches will be closed over the Easter weekend. We’ll be away from 5pm on Thursday 29 March until 9am on Tuesday 3 April.


Ancient Forests Await On The Timber Trail

Ancient Forests Await On The Timber TrailOnce upon a time, over three-quarters of New Zealand was covered in forest. Today that number stands at less than a quarter. European settlement brought deforestation on a mass scale: Huge tracts of forest were cleared for farming and houses, and timber exports became a major industry for the country.

By the 1970’s, the environmental movement had begun to take action. In Pureora Forest Park on the North Island, environmentalists climbed high into the canopy to protest against further logging. Eventually the government responded by preserving the remaining indigenous blocks.
 
Today, Pureora Forest Park is home to the Timber Trail – one of the 23 rides that make up Nga Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trail. To travel this route is to experience both sides of New Zealand’s timber heritage: ancient podocarp forests of soaring rimu, totara, miro, matai and kahikatea; and a glimpse of the industry that nearly brought it all crashing down.
 
Stretching from Pureora Village in the north to Ongarue in the south, remnants of the region’s timber heritage feature frequently along the 85km trail. At Ongarue, the trail follows the contours of an old bush tramway, once used to haul felled trees to the sawmill. Winding through picturesque natural bush, the tramway passes numerous cuttings, embankments, stream crossings, cliff ledges and tumbledown huts. Particularly impressive is the Ongarue spiral, an engineering marvel made up of a lower-level bridge, a very deep cutting, a curved tunnel, and an over-bridge. 
 
New marvels constructed especially for the trail include eight suspension bridges, built to span the many streams and river gorges of this mountainous region. The Maramataha suspension bridge claims one of the longest (141 metre) and highest (45 metre) single-spans in the country. 
 
With reasonable fitness, the Timber Trail can be ridden in two days. It’s recommended that you set out from the northern end at Pureora Village and head south, since this will save a lot of arduous climbing. You’ll find two accommodation options at the half-way point of Piropiro Flats: a scenic DOC campsite, or the newly-built Black Fern Lodge. You can also choose to ride shorter sections of the trail, or venture deeper in the forest where numerous advanced mountain bike trails await.

If you fancy riding the Timber Trail, we can help organise bike hire. Check out options here, or send us an email.

Have a good week,
Steve


Get The Lowdown On Christchurch’s MTB Scene

Book in for a bike service at our Christchurch branch, and you’ll likely meet the Lloyd brothers. Jake and Toby hail from Tavistock in the UK and are currently in New Zealand on working holidays. We pinned them down for a quick chat to find out more about their biking backgrounds and get the lowdown on Christchurch’s MTB scene.

How long have you been biking for, and what initially sparked your interest?
Jake: I have been biking on and off for about 12 years. We had a skatepark and local woods near our home when growing up which we used to go to after school and at weekends. The rest they say is history!
Toby: I grew more of an interest in bikes and started riding trails around 2005. My family moved house and we were within riding distance to the local woods. This enabled me to ride at the weekend and sometimes after school growing my love for bikes and riding. 

What’s your favourite ride or trail?
Jake: I’m constantly finding new exciting and challenging trails here in New Zealand, a favourite would be Rad Sick trail at Victoria Park at Port Hills.
Toby: I haven’t ridden many trails while I’ve been in New Zealand and only a few that aren’t that well known in the UK. There are some good trails in a town called Tavistock near to where I lived in the UK, but here in New Zealand, I’ve found some good rides around Victoria Park and the Adventure Park also looks as though it has some great runs which I’m soon to check out. I’m more into downhill/freeriding, but I tried out a 27.5” which was more of an all mountain/enduro and thought it was awesome. Not only do they climb well, but they descend better than expected. 

Best spot for after-biking drinks?
Jake: Most of our biking is done after work and so we usually head home afterwards for dinner and a beer.
Toby: As I’m on my working holiday, I’m torn between trying to ride as much as possible, but also work and save up as much as I can. I’d usually drink at home with my housemates, but a place I like is Burgers & Beers Inc. It has a decent selection of burgers and of course, great beer. 

What do you like to do when you’re not riding?
Jake: I really like to explore on foot, whether it be looking for new trails or hiking up the mountains. When I’m at home in the UK I play a lot of hockey.
Toby: If I’m not riding or working, I tend to either explore in and around Christchurch. But I also enjoy editing videos and clips of myself and friends riding. I quite enjoy the media side of things and putting a little sequence together for others to see. 

What’s your top tip for keeping your bike in perfect condition?
Jake: Regular maintenance.
Toby: My tip to keeping a healthy bike is to just keep on top of it. You can get a cheap bike or an expensive bike, but it’s best to keep it clean and maintained so there is less likely to be an issue out on the trail. Although, there is the chance you get things a bit wrong and you run out of talent while riding. 

Do you have any must-do rides or destinations?
Jake: From my experience, New Zealand as a whole is a must-do destination that I would highly recommend for any type of biking. Dyers Pass here in Christchurch is a climb to get ticked off the list!
Toby: I wouldn’t say I have any must-do rides or places to go, but I would say just enjoy yourself. Do what kind of riding you feel like and don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with. 

Check out a clip of Toby riding here.

And if you think your bike could benefit from a tune-up from an experienced bike mechanic, we offer servicing in both our Christchurch and Auckland branches. Send us an email, or give us a call on 03 982 2966 (Christchurch) or 09 257 4673 (Auckland).

Have a good week,
Steve

Images: Toby Lloyd


Guided Riding on the Otago Rail Trail and Clutha Gold Trail

Looking for a gentle introduction to bike touring? Then check out our newest tour offering: the 5 Day Otago and Clutha Cycle Trails.
 
This easy cruise through stunning Central Otago combines two popular trails: the Otago Rail Trail and the Clutha Gold Trail. Both provide a fascinating insight into the history of this region, from early Maori moa hunters to the thrill of the gold rush, and European farming, railway and mining endeavours.
 
Scenic highlights along the way include mountain backdrops, cascading river gorges, and golden high-country. You’ll also have the option to experience viaducts, tunnels, abandoned gold diggings, and art deco buildings in pretty country towns.

In addition, this tour includes a trip on the Taieri Gorge Railway from Middlemarch to Dunedin, a scenic jet boat transfer down the Roxburgh Gorge, and wine tasting at a Central Otago Winery.
 
Both trails are classed grade 1, meaning the route is mainly flat, with occasional small climbs. Much of the riding is off-road, making it a safe option for families. And the tour is fully-guided, so you won’t have to worry about accommodation, getting lost, or riding with heavy loads – luggage transfer is included!
 
With just one departure this summer – leaving 8 April 2018 – get in touch today to book.

Have a great week,
Steve