The Complete Guide to Road Tripping NZ in an Electric Vehicle

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Heading off on a summer road trip is an annual event for most kiwis but, with the price of fuel skyrocketing, the idea of driving long distance sounds less like fun and more like funds. Luckily, there's a way to road trip without breaking the bank - driving an electric vehicle! EECA has calculated that the fuel running cost of an electric vehicle ("EV") is equivalent to paying $0.30 per litre. That’s approximately 15% of the cost of running an equivalent sized petrol vehicle!

EVs aren't only cheaper to run, they’re also:

  • Better for the environment - EVs produce approximately 80% less CO2 emissions than a petrol or diesel car.
  • More mechanically reliable - EVs have fewer moving parts than petrol or diesel cars (around 20 vs 2,000) meaning there is less to go wrong! 
  • More enjoyable to drive and travel in - Since EVs have extremely high torque power, their pickup is very quick and smooth. Once you've driven an EV, you're likely to find driving petrol or diesel cars clunky and clumsy.

With huge improvements in technology and an increase in uptake, issues like limited range, long charge time, and a dearth of charging stations are now a thing of the past. But, that doesn't mean you can treat an EV like your average petrol or diesel car, taking a road trip in an EV requires some special considerations - read on to find out more.

Keen to experience a road trip in an EV for yourself? Yourdrive has privately-owned electric vehicles available to rent from kiwis all over New Zealand. You'll find a variety of great-value vehicles in handy pickup locations across the country. Read on to get a sweet $20 discount on a Yourdrive rental!.


Pick your car

Have a think about what your requirements are. Consider how many people you’ll have with you, how much luggage you’ll be carrying, how far you’ll be going and how long you’ll be spending in the vehicle, what sort of terrain you’ll be encountering, whether you require roof racks or a tow bar etc. We love spontaneous adventures but, recommend planning ahead so you have the greatest number of options when it comes to searching for and booking a car. 

When searching for a car on Yourdrive, use the filters on our search page to limit the results shown to just those that fit your criteria. First, use the 'Features' filter to show only electric or hybrid vehicles. Then, use the other filters to specify your desired price range, vehicle type, number of seats, transmission etc.

Check the range

The exact range of each EV depends on many factors, including driving style, load, traffic conditions, weather (i.e., wind, atmospheric density), and accessory use. 

The most popular EV in New Zealand, the Nissan Leaf, has a range of around 130km (depending on generation). Other compact EV models like the BMW i3, Renault Zoe, Volkswagen e-Golf, Mitsubishi iMiev, Kia Soul, have a range between 100km and 170km per charge. Higher end and larger EVs, such as the Hyundai Ioniq, Hyundai Kona, Tesla Model X, Tesla Model S, have a range between 200km and 400km.  

You'll need to know the estimated range of your chosen make and model to plan your route. 

Prepare for charging

The majority of EV charging happens overnight in people’s garages, but on days when you're travelling long distances, one charge likely won't be enough to get you to your destination, and waiting around for hours while your vehicle recharges isn't ideal. 

Luckily, New Zealand has an ever-growing nation-wide network of charging stations so you’ll never be far away from a place to top up your battery. Fast chargers have an output between 22kW and 50kW (compared to your average 2.2kW at home) which means they can recharge your battery to 80% in approximately 20 minutes. Use costs vary depending on the provider. All fast charge stations have tethered cables, so there is no need to bring your own. 

ChargeNet is the largest privately-owned fast-charging network in the Southern Hemisphere. We highly recommend you sign up to be a member via their website to gain access to their expansive network of fast chargers. When you want to charge, you simply open activate one of their stations via their smartphone app (iOS and Android), website, or with an RFID fob.

Before heading off on your journey, check, and check again that you have all the required cords and connectors for charging. 

Plan your route

Choose your route based on sights you want to see and locations you want to visits, as well as your EV's range. Plugshare is a helpful website and smartphone app (iOS and Android) that shows all public charging stations on a map.

Navigate to their Trip Planner, enter your start location and destination, and the platform will display all the charging stations along your route or within a chosen radius from your route. Furthermore, enter your EV's estimated range and add your chosen charging stations to your route for Plugshare to calculate the distance between each charging station and warn you if you've exceeded your range or are cutting it fine. 

We've identified out the best places to stop and charge your EV along some of the most popular road trip routes in New Zealand. Check out the map here


Save money and the planet on your next road trip!

Rent an electric vehicle directly from locals with Yourdrive.
Sign up to Yourdrive with the promo code ADVENTURE20 to get $20 off your first Yourdrive rental.

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Posted by Kezia Lynch on 9th of December, 2018