Muz and I delivered two cars last week and went on an epic road trip from Auckland to Christchurch in the process. For those of you who have seen our Facebook posts we went to some amazing places to stay and charge along the way.
First stop for me was Waihi where I stopped to top up the 2018 Nissan Leaf 40 kWh that I was delivering to Craig in Whakatane. The Waihi charger is in a great location - close to the town centre. If you want to go and stroll through the shops, have some kai in a cafe or top up on supplies at the supermarket, all are easily accessible. It's about half way to Tauranga so a perfect stop for most EV owners. I needed to put in about 30% battery capacity to get me to Whakatane so I wasn't there long - 15 mins. Thanks Chargenet for a great, well located fast charger.
Next stop was Whakatane where I dropped the car off to some very happy new owners. They have been driving a Gen 1 Leaf for some time so will really enjoy the extra range of the 40 kWh. I caught up with Muz who was travelling the same route with the Renault Zoe ZE40 that we were delivering to Christchurch. Muz got to Tauranga with ease in the Zoe and only needing a small top up to get to Whakatane. He was very happy charging at the Warehouse for free on a 22 kWh AC Type 2 charger. He got about 50% in an hour - given this is not a fast charger this was a great rate and reassuring for the rest of the trip in terms of charging times. There are plenty of fast chargers In the region thanks to Chargenet and local electricity suppliers. Having ChadeMo, CCS and Type 2 Chargers accessible makes a big difference when driving a Zoe. We needed leave from Whakatane with a reasonable charge as our next stop was Taupo. Charging more often than you need and splitting the charging between stops helps break the trip. The charger at Whakatane is in a lovely spot by the beach and cafes so a great place to stop.
We enjoyed a lovely drive around the lakes at Rotorua - we were very tempted to stop and have a swim at the Polynesian Spa. Our next stop was Taupo and I don't need to tell anyone what amazing things there are to do in Taupo. We plugged into the charger again at the Warehouse and spent a couple of hours having lunch in a cafe over looking the water, catching up on paperwork and wandering around the shops. As the next leg was the longest of the day we needed to leave as full as possible. Even still going over the beautiful Tongariro National Park we had our first moments of range anxiety. Going up hill took quite a bit of battery and being in quite a desolate place our imagination ran wild. However with the great regeneration we got back on the way down we were fine. We decided to stop at Maungaweka anyway - more out of interest than anything. We went to the Maungaweka campgrounds where they have of course 16 amp caravan plugs, plugged in, had a wine and pizza as the sun set for the day looking over the beautiful white cliffs.
Next stop was our accomodation near Marton - Maungaraupi Country Estate. This is an amazing heritage house full of amazing history and rooms still set up straight out of the era of the house. Rita the owner and host was great and was happy for us to plug in. We were the first EV owners to stay and charge and she is keen to provide charging for other EV owners. They have three phase power so this will be a really useful stop for Zoe owners. Rita does a tour of the house which was very interesting. There are alpaca and kunekune and lovely grounds to wander through so plenty to do or just relax.
The next leg of the journey was to Wellington to catch the ferry. I had some work to do in the morning so we left after lunch and stopped on route at Ralph and Sue's near Linton. Ralph is an early adopter having brought his Gen1 Leaf in 2012. He has all sorts of charging equipment to share including a 3 phase type 2 plug. He is keen to support the EV community which typifies the EV pioneers we have come across. Next stop the ferry to Picton. We caught the 5 pm ferry so had a lovely boat ride over the channel and through the Marlborough Sounds at dusk arriving in Picton to stay at the Cowshed. One of the highlights of this trip has been meeting BnB owners who are willing to let EV owners charge. They see EV's as the way of the future and want to support this. Angela is very proud of her cow themed accomodation and it was very comfortable. Next stop was a charge at the Blenheim Warehouse then onto Kaikoura. We went to one of my favourite places - The Store at Kekerengu on the Kaikoura coast. This would make a fantastic charging spot and the owner Sang agrees but they are at the end of the line and the cost of upgrading the transformer for a fast charger is prohibitive. However a 22 kwh Type 2 charger may be goer.
Lovely food, glass of wine and stunning views of the coast - perfect.
Our last and final charging stop was at the Peketa Camp grounds just outside of Kaikoura right on the sea. We rented a cabin and paid to use a powered site for the night and left full the next day. We had a wonderful night at the locals pub - The Pier in Kaikoura which has been around since 1906. Great views, awesome atmosphere and good food. It also just happened to be the night of the final of the Bledisloe cup. Neither Muz nor I knew this of course but enjoyed the atmosphere - the All Blacks won which always bodes well when watching the rugby in a pub. We meet a really friendly couple from New Plymouth in a camper van and talked about how excited we are to be able to have an electric camper vans in the not too distant future.
We arrived in Christchurch after a leisurely drive down the coast - stopping in Cheviot for breakfast and dropped off the car feeling very rested. The slips and earthquake damage was evident all the way down. Massive road repairs being undertaken made us realise how lucky we are and what a devastating effect this would have had on local businesses when the road was closed. Some may never recover.
So four days, great views, food and a very pleasant way to travel. The cost of the trip for the Zoe's fuel - Zero. We gave the places we stayed koha to thank then for letting us charge which was about $30 so over all a very inexpensive way to travel.