Why Cycling in Christchurch is Set to Get Even Better

discover christchurchA compact, buzzing city surrounded by rolling hills, steep peaks and epic trails, Christchurch offers a huge variety of cycling terrain – and it’s set to get even better with the construction of a new $20 million, 358-hectare mountain bike park. Expected to open in December this year, the Christchurch Adventure Park will feature more than 100km of downhill trails, a 1.8km chairlift and 2km of zip lines through the forest.

Once completed, this will be the largest park of its kind in the southern hemisphere. We’re excited about what this means for cycling in Christchurch – which is already crammed full of opportunities. From laid back city cruising to more challenging, rugged terrain, here’s a guide to what Christchurch has to offer.

See the city
Pedal power is a great way to discover Christchurch’s many attractions like the Cardboard Cathedral, the Re:START Mall (made up of shipping containers) and the extraordinary Gap Filler Projects which pop up around the city at random. Or take a spin around Christchurch’s iconic Hagley Park, which offers 5km of gently-meandering, tree-lined tracks. It’s a great spot for families and especially stunning in spring and autumn.

Head to the hills
Looking for tough climbs and exhilarating downhills? The Port Hills are just ten minutes from the city centre and offer plenty of uphill slogs and exhilarating downhills, as well as vistas that stretch all the way from the Pacific Ocean to the Southern Alps. Popular routes include The Kiwi Loop, Dyers Pass and Summit Road. You’ll find maps on the Christchurch City Council website. (Also a good place to check for track updates before you ride).

Lose yourself for a few days
South-east of the city lies Banks Peninsula. Formed over six million years ago by the violent eruptions of two volcanoes, the resulting craters now form the harbours of Lyttelton and Akaroa. One way to reach the peninsula is to cycle the Little River Rail Trail, which runs from the edge of Christchurch to the township of Little River (mainly flat and off-road riding) From Little River, numerous routes, hills and tracks beckon and you can easily spend several days navigating the quiet back roads and spectacular scenery.

Excited to ride Christchurch? We can set you up with bike hire, route ideas and insider information. We also run guided tours of the Port Hills and Little River Rail Trail. Drop us an email to get your Christchurch cycle trip underway.

Have a great week,
Steve Inns

P.S. We’re currently in the process of upgrading our Christchurch bike fleet – we’ve got some exciting new deliveries arriving soon which are going to make biking in Christchurch even more fun! We’ll keep you posted…

Image: Re:START Mall. Shelia Thomson.

Where to Stay When You’re Cycle Touring Around New Zealand

Where to Stay When You're Cycle Touring Around New ZealandBack-to-nature campsite? Or a luxury lodge with everything taken care of? Whatever your level of comfort and budget, New Zealand has an accommodation option to suit. Here’s a quick guide to the different accommodation options available to you when you’re cycle touring around New Zealand.

Don’t want to spend a lot?

DOC’s range of conservation campsites offer some of the cheapest overnight stays going, with fees starting at just $6 a night per person (and some are completely free). Facilities are limited: a composting toilet and water supply is your most likely setup but the surrounding scenery will more than make up for the lack of amenities. Check the DOC website for a full list of locations.

Campgrounds and holiday parks with a wider range of services can be found in just about every corner of New Zealand. Most provide well-equipped communal kitchens and fridges, and some have games and TV rooms. Many also offer cabins and self-contained accommodation of varying degrees of luxury.

Backpackers and hostels are a good budget option if you want to meet other travellers.

Want a taste of Kiwi life?

Farmstays are a popular option for travellers who want to really immerse themselves in Kiwi culture. Costs vary widely – some farms offer B&B-type accommodation while others have more backpacker-style shared accommodation. Rural Holidays provides a collection of farmstays throughout New Zealand.

Bed and breakfasts tend to be smaller, independent affairs run by friendly hosts. Like a farmstay, these offer a more local experience than a chain motel or hotel.

More pricier accommodation options.

Holiday homes. The classic Kiwi holiday home is called a “bach”. Typically these were simple, rustic cottages with basic facilities. These days, holiday houses tend to be flashier (and therefore more expensive). Usually the entire house is rented, so this can be a costly option for a single traveller or couple. Book a Bach offers a wide range of holiday homes available for rent.

New Zealand motels are typical to motels anywhere in the world. You’ll generally find a selection lining the highway on the entry and exit to a town or city. Quality and prices vary: a double room in a mid-range motel can cost anywhere between $100 and $200.

International hotel chains can be found in the main centres, while independent hotels are scattered across the country. Trivago is a useful website for finding the best deals on hotel and motel accommodation.

Lodges are a cross between a luxury bed and breakfast and boutique hotel. They’re often in beautiful or remote locations and offer excellent food and wine.

Accommodation on our cycle tours

All our guided cycle tours include accommodation – usually a mix of high-quality, three and four-star hotels and motels. Many tours also include at least one night at a farmstay. All accommodation options have been carefully chosen to incorporate comfort and scenery.

Our self-guide tours provide a list of recommended motels, backpackers, bed and breakfasts and campsites to allow you to book your own roadside lodging.

Check out our full range of guided tours and self-guided tours on our website.

Have a great week,
Steve Inns

Extend the Life Expectancy of Your Bike with this Quick and Easy Bike Service

Extend the Life Expectancy of Your Bike with this Quick and Easy Bike ServiceTwo weeks ago we offered up a quick list of checks to carry out before you head out for a ride. But is there more you can be doing to keep yourself safe and your bike in tiptop condition?

Here’s a more in-depth bike service that we recommend carrying out about once a month. Bear in mind that if you’re regularly clocking up big kilometres or you ride off-road, your bike may need more frequent attention.

  • Nuts and bolts. Check the tightness of all connecting parts such as the cranks, pedals, handlebars and stem.
  • Drivetrain. Wipe the chain and cassette with degreaser, then rinse, dry and re-lube.
  • Frame. Clean the frame and check for any cracks or dents.
  • Cables. Inspect for any fraying or rust and apply lube to keep them running smooth.
  • Crank arms. Grab each crank arm and try to shake away from the bike. If you notice any movement, your bearings may need to be adjusted or the crank bolts might need tightening.
  • Headset. With your bike on the floor in the riding position, squeeze the front brake with one hand and place your other on the top headset cup just below the handlebar stem. Move the bike back and forth. Any movement in the headset cup indicates that it needs tightening.

While regular checks will keep you safer and help extend the life expectancy of your bike, don’t overlook regular maintenance by a qualified mechanic. If you ride frequently, we recommend bringing your bike in for twice-yearly tune-ups to ensure that complex components such as spokes, bearing surfaces, derailleurs and cables are in top-notch condition.

We’ve got qualified mechanics at both our branches who can handle these checks for you. Give us a call on 03 982 2966 (Christchurch) or 09 257 4673 (Auckland) to organise a time.

Have a great week,
Steve Inns

North Island Cycle Tour: 8-day Road Tour from Auckland to Rotorua

beautiful beaches on a north island cycle tourStark volcanic landscapes, white sandy beaches and an intriguing Maori heritage …New Zealand’s North Island is a landscape loaded with contrast. This guided road tour from Auckland to Rotorua offers eight days of riding through some of the North Island’s most fascinating regions. Here’s a overview of what to expect.

The city of sails
Situated between two beautiful harbours, Auckland is a scenic and vibrant waterside city. There’s plenty to see and do before your tour starts: take a trip up the Sky Tower, check out the many museums and galleries or enjoy a leisurely wander along the waterfront.

Coastal scenery aplenty
From Auckland you’ll head to the Coromandel, a beautiful peninsula that’s packed full of white sandy beaches and ocean vistas. The windy coastal road from Thames to Coromandel town is especially fun to ride and boasts magnificent views over the Firth of Thames.

Bask in your own beach hot pool
You’ll pay a visit to Hot Water Beach, where you can dig your own hot pool in the sand. Just nearby is the photogenic Cathedral Cove, which featured in the film The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.

Experience Hobbiton
Fan of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit? You’ll be delighted to know this tour includes a meander through the rolling hills of the Waikato… aka the Shire! The set is open for visitors and a two-hour guided tour lets you peek at the Hobbit Holes and enjoy a drink at the Green Dragon™ Inn.

Weird and wonderful geothermal activity
Rotorua is a hotbed of bubbling mudpools, hissing steam vents and sulphuric smells. It’s also a region of great significance to the Maori and offers numerous cultural activities, including Whakarewarewa, a thermal reserve and living Maori village. If you want to keep riding, Whakarewarewa Forest and the Redwoods is home to around 130km of mountain bike trails.

Head to our website to check out full details of this all-inclusive North Island cycle tour:
8-day Guided Road Tour from Auckland to Rotorua

Have a great week,
Steve Inns

Bike Servicing Tips: Six Things to Check Before You Head Out On a Ride

Bike servicing tips: Six Things to Check Before You Head Out On a RideWhen the open road is calling you want to be out the door and riding as fast as you can. But taking a few minutes to check over your bike before you jump in the saddle is a good habit to get into, helping you catch potential problems before they develop into dangerous (and expensive) hazards. Here’s a quick checklist to run through before you hit the road or tracks.

1. Check any quick-release parts. Make sure quick release wheels or seat posts are closed tight.

2. Check the wheels. Spin the wheels in the frame to ensure they aren’t rubbing on the brake pads, frame or fork. If you see any wobbles they may need to be trued (straightened). This is a bit of a tricky process, so you might want to pop and see a bike mechanic.

3. Inspect the tyres. Check your tyre pressure – low tyre pressure can force you to use a lot more energy than needed, and will also make the tyre more prone to punctures. The recommended maximum PSI will be printed on the tyre sidewall. Check for any cuts, nicks or embedded debris.

4. Test the brakes. Spin the wheels and squeeze the brakes to make sure they’re stopping the wheels. Inspect the brake pads and ensure they’re not rubbing while the wheel is spinning. If your bike has v-brakes, check that the brake pad closes onto the wheel rim, not the tyre wall. If the pads have a shiny coating, or they’re squealing a lot, give them a light sand. This will also help improve braking performance.

5. Lube the chain. Have a look over the chain and add lube if it looks or feels dry.

6. Check your spares. Make sure you’re carrying a spare tube, puncture repair kit, tyre levers, multi-tool and a pump. There’s nothing worse than springing a leak in the middle of nowhere and having to walk home!

And if you notice anything amiss during your checks, our qualified bike mechanics are here to help. We offer a wide range of bike servicing options at both our Auckland and Christchurch branches. Give us a call on 03 982 2966 (Christchurch) or 09 257 4673 (Auckland) to organise a time.

Have a great week,
Steve Inns

Three Intrepid Tales From The Road

solo cycling in nzSome cycling inspiration for you today. We love reading about intrepid cyclists and their travels – here are a few of our current favourites:

Friedel and Andrew are two Canadians who’ve pedalled over 30 countries and clocked up more than 60, 000 km on their bikes. Most of that distance was accumulated on a world bike tour between 2006 and 2009, which we’re happy to see included New Zealand! Now with two little ones in tow their cycling adventures tend to be a little closer to home (the Netherlands). Their website is packed full of stories, tips and inspiration and is a great resource for anyone thinking of embarking on a cycle tour:
Travelling Two

Alastair Humphreys left England at the age of 24 to cycle the world. In four years he rode through 60 countries and five continents. His journey took him through Europe and Africa, up the west coast of the Americas, and through Russia, Japan, China and Central Asia. Since that adventure, he’s competed in the gruelling Marathon des Sables, walked across India, and packrafted across Iceland! You can read about his world bike tour here:

We wrote about Lotus (pictured above) and her extended cycling tour of New Zealand last year (it’s been one of our most popular newsletters ever). Originally Lotus was only going to cycle for three weeks but she loved the experience so much she ended up pedalling for ten weeks! Read all about her adventures here:

Inspired to jump on your bike? Maybe you need a new bike? Check out our second hand bike sale page. We’ve got top-brand mountain bikes, hybrids and road bikes available from as little as $250, as well as cycle accessories like panniers and trailers. These are top of the line models that have been well cared for and fully-serviced after every rental. Head here to see what’s currently available:

Have a great week,
Steve Inns

Our Current Second Hand Bikes For Sale + Time For A Service?

bike servicing at Natural HighWinter is coming. Which at Natural High means two things:

1) We’re updating many of our hire bikes and selling off our older models at ridiculously low prices. We’ve got top-brand mountain bikes, hybrids and road bikes available from as little as $250, as well as cycle accessories like panniers and trailers. These are top of the line models that have been well cared for and fully-serviced after every rental. Take a look at our bike sales page to see what’s currently available.

2) Now is a really good time to show your bike some love by booking it in for a Natural High service. Regular bike maintenance is essential for safe riding, as well as helping to prolong your bike’s lifespan. Servicing is available at both branches by qualified bike mechanics from as little as $50. Email us to organise a time, or give us a call on 03 982 2966 (Christchurch) or 09 257 4673 (Auckland).

Here’s what Alan and Judy have to say about these services. They purchased two of our ex-rental Specialized Hybrid bikes and bring them back every year for servicing:

“Dan and the team at Natural High have provided excellent service from when we first purchased our bikes, continuing with annual servicing. We would recommend a pre-loved bike from these folk at Natural High!”
– Alan & Judy

You’ll find the full list of bikes for sale on the website.

Steve Inns

P.S. It might be getting a little colder, but winter cycle touring around NZ is still a lot of fun (and quieter, too). Head here for a full list of self-guided cycling adventures.

Take A Torch When You Explore These NZ Cycle Trail Tunnels

nz cycle trail tunnelsA few weeks ago, Spooners Tunnel become the newest section of Tasman’s Great Taste Trail to be unveiled. Dug by hand in 1893 to connect Nelson to the West Coast, the underground route only got as far as Gowanbridge before the Government of the time pulled the pin and the tunnel was boarded up.

60 years later and the 1.35km tunnel is finally open for business. It might be a little dark and cold (take a torch) but the route is straight, and if you cycle south to north, the gentle downward slope will allow you to freewheel the entire distance.

Tunnels are a fascinating feature of many of New Zealand’s cycle trails. Here are a few other famous underground routes you might like to experience. (And if you’re looking to get the kids interested in riding, try selling them on some spooky tunnel fun.)

The Karangahake Rail Tunnel on the Hauraki Rail Trail
Carved out of solid rock and one million bricks, the 1.1km Karangahake Rail Tunnel is just one of many exciting features found in the Karangahake Gorge, voted one of the “fourteen wonders of New Zealand.” You’ll find the Gorge in the section of the trail that runs from from Paeroa to Waikino Station.

The Rimutaka Cycle Trail
Lots and lots of railway tunnels to ride through on the Maymorn to Cross Creek section.

The Otago Rail Trail
Expect plenty of long, dark tunnels, as well as trestle and stone bridges, abandoned gold diggings and remains of mining machinery and preserved gold-mining settlements.

Like to ride any of these trails? We offer self-guided and guided tours of the Otago Rail Trail, and a five-day guided Wellington to Greytown tour, which includes the Rimutaka Trail. We can also help you organise bike hire and transport for the Hauraki Rail Trail and Great Taste Trail. Drop us a line if you’d like to get the ball rolling.

Steve Inns

Image: pbkwee

Jet Boat Spins on the Roxburgh Gorge Trail

roxburgh-gorge-trailKnown for its stunning scenery, gold-rush history, and swift turquoise waters, the Clutha is the South Island’s longest river, flowing 338 kilometres through Central and South Otago from Lake Wanaka to the Pacific Ocean.

The Maori name for the Clutha was Mata-au, meaning “surface current” – no doubt in reference to the river’s swirling eddies – while the early settlers of the region called it the Molyneux.

In 1861, gold was discovered in Central Otago and the promise of a glittering future brought prospectors flocking. By 1900, there were 187 gold dredges located on the river – some of those miner’s huts and rock shelters can still be seen today.

In recent years the Clutha has provided a glittering future of a different kind: electricity. Roxburgh was the first big power scheme in the South Island after the Second World War and building the hydroelectric reservoir flooded the Roxburgh Gorge. In the early 1990s, the decision to build the Clyde Dam at the lower end of the Cromwell Gorge was highly controversial, since it flooded large areas of fertile land and orchards.

Today, a great way to experience the history and landscape of the Clutha is to ride the Roxburgh Gorge Trail. This one-day adventure runs between Alexandra and Lake Roxburgh Dam – it’s a 34km ride that’s graded easy to intermediate.

Because the trail isn’t fully completed, a 12km section in the middle adds an extra element of excitement: a 40 minute jet boat ride. Run by Roxburgh Gorge Trail Jet Boat, this journey provides a different perspective of the Gorge (and plenty of thrilling spins as well!). The tour includes secure transport of your bike, a safety briefing and stories of days gone by.

A fantastic 4–6 hour outing, you can combine this trail with the nearby Clutha Gold and Otago Central Rail Trail, to really get a feel for this fascinating region.

Steve Inns

P.S. The Roxburgh Gorge Trail is perfect for self-guided touring. We can help you organise bike hire, accessories such as panniers, and pick-up and drop-off options. Drop us an email if you’d like to talk logistics!

Image: Clutha River Cruises

It’s Hello To Steve

Natural High owner SteveIn case you missed last week’s email, Andy has headed off to pastures new and Natural High has a new owner. So, I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce myself and give you a little insight into who I am and why I’ve decided to become involved with the adventure cycling business.

I’m Steve Inns and along with my wife Cecileah I’m thrilled to be the new owner of Natural High. We live in Christchurch with our three young children. Cecileah is a nutritionist and I’ve spent 15 years in the transport logistics industry, holding a management role for the last five years. Prior to that I was self employed in the transport industry.

The nature of my work means that while I’ve seen plenty of New Zealand by road, I’ve always felt I’ve been missing out on something. A lot of New Zealand can’t be seen from the highway. Getting off the fast-moving tarmac and onto the trails and back roads opens up a whole new world – and it’s that natural New Zealand that I’m ready to see more of.

Leading an active, outdoor lifestyle is important to our family and one of the main reasons why we’ve bought Natural High is to incorporate more outdoor fun into our everyday lives.

I’ve always been passionate about mountain biking. I bought my first mountain bike in 1996 (the year Natural High was born) and I’ve competed in many events over the years, including the Rainbow Rage, the Pass to Pub, the Caveman, the Hanmer Hammerhead and the Run 79 Lake Tekapo MTB Pursuit. The most recent event I took part in was the Motatapu, which takes place every year in the Wanaka to Queenstown high country.

Work commitments and the needs of my young family have taken priority in recent years, and biking has taken a bit of a backseat. Now that the kids are older and getting into biking, a family cycling holiday is definitely high on the agenda!

Andy’s done a brilliant job with Natural High over the last eight years and while we won’t be making any immediate or drastic changes, we’ve got a few new ideas and services up our sleeves (keep your eyes peeled for details).

And if you’ve booked an upcoming service or tour, we’re confident we’ve done everything we can to ensure a smooth takeover. If you have any concerns or worries, please don’t hesitate to email us at team@naturalhigh.co.nz.

Lastly, we look forward to meeting you and helping you discover the many delights of New Zealand.

Until next week,