Driving in New Zealand/Aotearoa with an Electric Vehicle.

New Zealand/Aotearoa has been rapidly transitioning to a zero-emissions transport network over the last five years.  

For overseas tourists wanting to experience New Zealand/Aotearoa at the wheel of a battery electric vehicle, (EV) a number of options are available from rental operators.  

New Zealand has an EV charging network spanning most main New Zealand tourist routes, and at key tourist destinations. As with any road trip, journey planning is important. With EV’s however, its even more so. 

It is recommended that drivers plan their journey carefully according to the charging infrastructure available, both fast (e.g. en-route) and slow charging (e.g. overnight). There are apps available that show both the charging stations around New Zealand/Aotearoa and the status of the chargers available. Demand may be high in some areas so you will need to plan for that. 

Finally, consider safety and security when planning your journey. Particularly in remote areas. Stay up to date with weather and road conditions during your trip. Things can change quickly! 

Here are seven tips for a great EV driving experience in New Zealand: 

1. Plan your charging stops around activities or meal breaks 

Whenever you’re on a road trip, you need to ensure you take regular breaks to avoid fatigue, stretch your legs and stay refreshed.  

Recharging takes more time than refuelling. If you match your breaks with charging stations you can then make your trip more enjoyable (less waiting around!).  

There are around 350 charging sites available throughout New Zealand. With more being added regularly. You can find them all on the live NZTA/Waka Kotahi EV charger map. 

NZTA/Waka Kotahi also has a journey planner tool that can help.   

2. You may get variations in range 


To get the best range from your EV, you need to drive it in optimal conditions.  

Sadly, in real life, they won’t be. You’ll be driving in varied conditions and circumstances, which will reduce your range.  

Your range will be less if: 

  • You drive fast and brake heavily 
  • There’s very hot or very cold weather 
  • You’re driving over hilly terrain 
  • You’re towing something 
  • You’re running your air conditioning 
  • You’re carrying roof-racks 
  • You have heavy loads like extra passengers and luggage 

With all these things in mind, you should allow for a decent margin of error when working out your range. Don’t rely on the car’s stated range. 

3. Make sure you have a backup option 


It’s possible you will arrive at a charging station and find it’s unavailable or out of order, or there will be a queue of EV owners also waiting. 

It is relatively uncommon, but it would be frustrating if you were relying on that charger to get you to your destination.  

Never rely on a specific charger, always have enough charge to get to several other charging sites in the vicinity. 

4. Check what type of charger your car uses 


You’ll need to match your charger type (e.g. AC or DC) with the stations that can accommodate it.  

DC chargers will usually have a cable which you can connect to your vehicle, but AC chargers will often require you to use your own cable and plug. 

For information on home and fast charging see the Genless government website.  

5. Sign up for different charging apps to map out your trip in advance 


You can use various apps to help you plan your EV trip. EVRoam is Waka Kotahi’s live database of the nation’s EV charging infrastructure. It has real-time information from all New Zealand/Aotearoa public charging sites, and for automated chargers it shows availability. It’s the database that feeds into most other provider apps.  

The ChargeNet app may be useful. ChargeNet is the country’s largest EV charging network, with 280-plus chargers. Its app shows you any network issues.  

There is also: 

6. Be smart with your charging 


Start by charging your EV to 100% before you leave on your road trip. It’s cheap and you can do it overnight. Then, when you’re on the road, only charge it to 80%. It will save you a lot of time. It takes much longer to add the last 20% to a battery than the first 20%, as the more charge a battery has the longer it takes to get to 100%.  

Getting to 100% wastes time. In fact, it wastes so much time that some charge suppliers only ever allow customers to reach 95%! 

Stick to the 80% rule while travelling and you will save time and free up the charger for the next person.  

When you reach your destination (i.e. accommodation), that’s the perfect opportunity to charge your car back to 100% while you’re sleeping. Most places will have somewhere available for you to plug in, which is often free.  

Do that, you’ll be nicely set up for the day’s driving ahead! 

7. Stay safe and secure. 


You’re on holiday, so get the most out of it by, above all, driving safely and driving to the road conditions.  

Be security wise, lock your valuables away when leaving your vehicle. Park your vehicle in a secure and well-lit place when charging at night.  

Follow these tips and you will have an enjoyable and memorable experience.  

Check out sites like the AA Traveller for more travel ideas or ways to explore New Zealand/Aotearoa. 


For more top tips on your electric road trip visit the Genless website.