Your petrol station days may be behind you with an EV – in fact, when you drive an EV, you have a ‘fuel station’ at home – by charging conveniently overnight, you can start any trip with a full battery for just a few dollars. Once you’re on the road, it’s about taking the opportunity to charge where and when you’re already stopping, and making sure you’re using route-planning apps to give yourself some peace of mind.
You'll find public chargers at places like supermarkets, malls and gyms, and at least every 75km along most of New Zealand's state highways. The charging network is growing all the time.
- DC fast chargers — Offer a faster charge. Cables are supplied to fit all vehicles.
- Public AC chargers — Offer a slower, cheaper charge (sometimes free). You may need to supply your own cable.
Learn more about charging times and costs below.
Find a public charger
Websites and apps show the locations of public chargers, whether they're fast (DC) or slow (AC), if they're in working order and what type of connectors or sockets are provided or required.
- AA time and distance calculator(external link) — tick 'charging stations' to add them to the time and distance map.
- ChargeNet(external link) — a nationwide network of fast chargers.
- A Better Route Planner(external link) is a global site using available data to allow journey charging planning. While it doesn't have a complete picture of all chargers in New Zealand, it's a useful planning tool.
Planning an electric holiday roadie
With a bit of advance planning, you can take the detours, enjoy the pit-stops, and get where you’re going, no worries. The public network isn’t the only way to charge – leave home on 100% to take advantage of lower power prices, and look into charging at your accommodation, so you start each day ready to go.
1. Start with a full tank
Start your roadie with 100% charge. It’s the cheapest and most convenient to charge at home, so this will get you the best bang for your buck.
If you have to top up on your journey, add only as much as you need to get to your next charging destination, to minimise the amount of time you need to stop to charge along the way. This kind of ‘snack’ charging won’t impact the battery health of modern EVs.
As a rule, the most you should top up to on a public fast charger is 80%. This is because the last 20% of the battery takes much longer to charge.
2. Don't forget
- Pack your charger, so you’re able to use AC chargers when you have more time to plug in.
- Use a route-planning app (below) to ID the best chargers to use along the way.
- Make sure you’ve downloaded any apps you need to be able to use different providers’ chargers ahead of time.
3. Plug ‘n’ stay
More and more accommodation providers have chargers available for their guests – and with the growing fleet, it’s becoming a desirable amenity for operators to provide.
When you’re booking accomodation, sites like Air B’n’B and Trivago let you filter for spots with EV chargers, while hotels and camp sites will list in in their features.
If you’re an accommodation provider
It makes sense to get ahead of the curve and have charging available at your site. No need to install something high-powered, as guests are most likely to want to plug in overnight for a slower charge. Find a provider who can help set you up with chargers with a booking and billing system.
If you’re renting out an Airbnb or a bach, an EV charger will make you a competitive choice for a growing number of travellers. Installing a ‘smart’ charger at your property will let you see how much power guests are using. You may be surprised – charging an EV overnight comes to less than $10, normally less if you don’t need a full charge.
Tips for using a fast charger
Companies installing fast charging stations include local electricity networks, ChargeNet and Chargemaster.
- No cable required. All fast charging stations have tethered CHAdeMO and/or CCS Type 2 cables.
- Create an account online first. Once signed up, you can access the fast charging network and enjoy easy billing and payment.
- Fast charge occasionally rather than frequently. It seems to be better for your battery.
- In a hurry? Charge to 80%. The last 20% of the battery takes longer to charge, so use the option to charge only to 80%.
- Check with your manufacturer to find out what's best for your particular vehicle.
What if a charger isn’t working?
If you’re having trouble with a charger, there are often simple troubleshooting steps you can take to get it going. Follow any instructions on the screen, or check the charger provider’s website for tips. Most providers also have 0800 numbers you can call for over-the-phone help. Often, they’ll be able to help remotely, and get you on your way.
If the charger requires a more serious fix, you may need to move to another charger nearby – that’s why it pays to plan to have enough battery capacity in reserve.
If you’re using apps from the charger providers, they’ll note any known outages. Plugshare is a public, crowdsourced app, where EV drivers can also note if a charger isn’t working.
Public chargers can be in hot demand, especially during peak travel times, like school holidays. Make it easier on yourself and your fellow EV drivers by planning your trip and charging stops, and remembering good public charging etiquette:
- There are several resources for planning an easy, stress-free trip. Check out the PlugShare app for the full list of chargers within NZ. Make sure to take note of the kW rating, so you understand how long your charge will take.
- While it may be tempting to charge your EV right to 100%, it is encouraged to take only what you need, or only to charge to 80%.
- Only use public chargers if you cannot charge at home. Keep them free for those that need them.
- Parks displaying an EV charging sign are for charging only. Do not park there if you are not charging, even if you’re in an EV.
- Only unplug another vehicle if you are certain it has finished charging, or you have been given permission, eg: on the Plugshare app.
- Make use of apps or txt alerts to monitor the state of charge. Plugshare is a safe way to communicate, but is optional.
- Stations are designed to allow you to leave your vehicle charging. But you must be back before charging stops, and before any parking time limits are up.
- Check for Parking/Charging Limits.
- Look after the stations, cables and plugs. Report any damage to the service provider, & ensure cables are safely tucked away.