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

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

Until next week,

It’s Farewell From Andy

It’s Farewell From AndyThis post marks an end of an era for me: it’s my last ever as Natural High colonel and head spokesperson.

After eight years of living and breathing cycling I felt I needed a new direction and so I’ve made the tough decision to sell the business. I’ve found a great couple to take over the reins: Steve and Cecileah Inns live in Christchurch with their three children and are a keen cycling family. They’ve got a huge amount of energy and drive and I think exciting things are in store for Natural High (they’ll introduce themselves properly in next week’s email).

I took over Natural High in 2008, with the aim of showing as many people as possible around New Zealand’s great outdoors. Eight years and many thousands of kilometres later and I feel my mission is accomplished – the team and I have helped hundreds of overseas visitors and locals hit the road, whether through a guided tour, a self-guided tour, a campervan rental or bike hire. We’ve opened a new branch in Auckland, grown great partnerships with other tourism companies, supported some fantastic events and initiatives and had a lot of fun along the way.

I’ve had the pleasure of riding alongside some absolute legends, seen some truly awe-astounding sights and tested my riding abilities to the max on more than one occasion. I don’t think I can say I’ve ridden everything but I’ve given it a good crack!

I’m going to miss talking cycling day in and day out, but don’t worry I’ll still be hitting the trails and roads regularly. I’m actually heading back into the farming industry as a sustainable farming consultant (I was a dairy farmer before my Natural High life) so new but familiar pastures await.

If you’ve booked any kind of upcoming service or tour with Natural High, rest assured that the high quality and service you’ve come to expect will continue. I’ve been showing Steve the ins and outs of the business for the past few weeks and the rest of the gang is still in place. If you have any concerns, please email the team on

I guess there’s one last thing to say and that’s thank-you. Thank you to the expert staff I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside, thank-you for being brilliant company out on the road and trails and thank-you for choosing to ride or travel with Natural High.

It’s been a blast.

Over and out,

We’re the World’s Best Country (Again)

world's best countryWell it’s official! New Zealand has just been awarded the title of world’s best country for the fourth consecutive year, according to readers of The Telegraph.

The UK paper lists 26 reasons why New Zealand is the world’s best country, with mention of our magnificent landscapes, striking Kauri forests, brilliant beaches, fascinating Maori culture, elegant selection of wines…and our cycling prowess. In fact, we’re considered one of the ultimate places for cycling thanks to our great network of off-road trails.

There are a few reasons they missed, though…

Excellent coffee
Coast into any little town and chances are you’re going to find a decent espresso and some good old fashioned baking. Roadside cafes are a great place to refuel, soak up the local atmosphere and meet the locals. Which brings us to…

Friendly locals
We hear no end of stories from travellers who’ve encountered first-rate hospitality as they’ve made their way around the country – from offers of free night’s accommodation and hot dinners, to gifts of fresh fruit and veggies delivered to their tent or campervan! It’s true – for the most part we’re a pretty nice bunch!

Stunning night skies
If you’re from the northern hemisphere you’re going to see a different night sky to the one you’re used to – and chances are it’s going to be a lot brighter and clearer, too. Little to no light pollution and crystal-clear air means a stunner of a night show just about anywhere in the country.

Inspired to ride New Zealand yet? We’re now taking bookings for summer 16/17 cycle tours. Take a peek at our guided tour page to see where you could be headed. And keep your eyes peeled over the next few weeks, because we’ve got some fantastic new tours coming, as well.

Road Cycling NZ: Four Great NZ Road Rides

road cycling NZHere’s four, classic road rides to add to your bucket list…

The Kauri Coast
Highway 12 from Dargaville to Rawene is a great cycling route that gets you up close with New Zealand’s biggest and oldest kauri trees. These impressive trees can reach 60 metres and have trunks 5m or more in diameter. The road passes though two forests: the Trounson Kauri Park and the Waipoua Kauri Forest.

Queen Charlotte Sounds
Most cyclists explore this scenic region via the Queen Charlotte track but you can also take the road. It’s up and down (and narrow in places) but with plenty of accommodation options along the route, you can choose to take your time. Slip a bottle of Marlborough’s finest sauvignon in your panniers, to sip while you admire the gorgeous water views. Note: the section between Kenepuru Head and Titirangi Bay is largely unsealed.

Queenstown to Wanaka over the Crown Range (or vice versa)
A tough slog between two of the South Island’s biggest resort towns – but well worth the effort for the sweeping lake vistas and thrilling downhill finish. Stop for a Speights at the historic Cardrona Hotel along the way.

West Coast of the South Island
The coastal road between Greymouth and Haast is an exhilarating ride, packed full of coastal scenery, lush rainforests and quirky townships. Highlights include the delights of Hokitika, the former goldmining town of Ross, the icy splendour of Franz Josef and Fox Glacier and delicious smoked salmon at the Salmon Farm.

Want to explore this route as part of a guided tour? Lots of our all-inclusive trips take in all or part of the West Coast road, including:
5 Day Road Cycle Tour Christchurch to Christchurch
6 Day West Coast Queenstown to Christchurch Cycle
9 Day Road Cycle Tour Christchurch to Queenstown
10 Day Road Cycle Tour Christchurch to Queenstown T1
10 Day Road Cycle Tour Christchurch to Queenstown T2

Have a great week,
Andrew Hunt