Everything You Need to Know About Renting and Driving an EV Around New Zealand
Enjoy the freedom of exploring New Zealand on a road trip without the shocking carbon footprint by hiring an electric vehicle (EV). New Zealand is equipped with EV charging stations around the country; all you need to do is hire an electric car and hit the road. We’ll go through the EV car rental companies, how to plan for an EV road trip, as well as the CO2 emissions and fuel costs you’ll save in this guide on how to travel around New Zealand in an electric car.
While you’re here, don’t forget to check our more generic New Zealand car travel guide for more tips.
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What You Need to Rent an EV in New Zealand
Renting an EV in New Zealand is easy if you have the following:
- A full valid driving license
- If your driving license is not written in English, an International Driving Permit
- A credit card (if you don’t have a credit card, see How to Hire a Car in New Zealand Without a Credit Card)
- To be at least 21 years old (if you are under 21 years old, see The Best New Zealand Car & Campervan Rentals for Ages 18 to 25).
Electric Car Rentals
New Zealand has a range of electric vehicle rentals available. A few of the country’s popular car rental brands have adopted an EV option into their fleet, from the Nissan Leaf to the latest Tesla models.
EV Car Rental Companies
You’ll find that most of these rental companies have depots at New Zealand’s most popular airports, including Auckland Airport and Christchurch Airport. Find out more about the best New Zealand car rental companies in our comparison.
Most car rental companies in New Zealand only have one or two electric car models to choose from, with ranges from 200km (124 miles) to 500km (310 miles). Be sure to compare your offerings before choosing a rental.
EV Charging Stations
Sure, New Zealand has EV car hire but does the country have the charging infrastructure to make an EV trip viable?
How Many EV Stations are in New Zealand?
There are EV charging stations along most of the major state highways (or a short distance from the highway) every 20km to 85km (12 to 53 miles). An exact figure on EV charging stations is hard to determine, due to new ones being added. However, as of 2021, ChargeNet has installed approximately 250 DC rapid charging stations in New Zealand. There is at least another 300 AC charging stations registered on PlugShare. Although Tesla Superchargers are much less frequent, they can still be found in 11 of New Zealand largest towns and cities.
Compared to more than 1,260+ fuel stations around New Zealand, there are fewer EV charging stations. This means that unlike driving a vehicle with a combustion engine, travelling long distances in an EV takes a bit of planning.
How to Plan for a Road Trip in an EV
Download the appropriate apps or go to the ChargeNet, PlugShare and/or Tesla websites and plan which charging stations you’re going to use. Bearing in mind that charging can take 30 minutes to three hours, plan for a few things to do while you’re vehicle is charging. Due to the charging times, we recommend drives that are no longer than 400km (250 miles) a day when travelling around New Zealand. Otherwise, you’ll find that “charging time” will eat most of your day away. Remember that you can slow-charge by connecting your vehicle to a normal mains power outlet, which many accommodations in New Zealand are happy to facilitate.
How Much Does EV Charging Cost?
It costs approximately NZ$5-$10 per 100km (124 miles) to charge an electric vehicle in New Zealand at a charging station.
Carbon Emissions and Fuel Costs Saved by Driving an EV
Of course, the reason any traveller wants to hire an EV in New Zealand is to reduce their carbon footprint, in turn, their environmental impact.
A 100km (62 miles) drive in a mid-range petrol car produces about 0.034 tonnes of CO2. A road trip driving directly from Auckland to Queenstown is 1,548km (962 miles), therefore you would produce 0.530 tonnes of CO2. However, a common two-week road trip of the North Island and South Island is more likely going to take you approximately 2,420km (1,504 miles), producing 0.828 tonnes of CO2. For context, you would need about 45 trees to grow for an entire year to offset that amount of CO2.
As for fuel costs, say it costs as much as NZ$10 to charge an EV per 100km (62 miles) – a very high estimation considering you’ll be able to charge for free overnight at some accommodations, that will be NZ$242 for a 2,420km (1,504-mile) trip around New Zealand. In comparison, the average petrol car consumes 7.6l per 100km (62 miles). With petrol prices at NZ$2 per litre and climbing, it will cost a minimum of NZ$368 to drive the same distance.
For more tips on budgeting for a trip in New Zealand, check out How Much Does it Cost to Travel New Zealand? You might also like: Which is Cheaper: Campervan Rental or Car Rental + Stay in Hotel/Hostel/Airbnb?
More About How to Travel Around New Zealand in an Electric Car
- Which is Cheaper: Campervan Rental or Car Rental + Stay in Hotel/Hostel/Airbnb?
- New Zealand Rental Car Insurance: Explained!
- 21 Ways To Save Money on Car Rental in New Zealand
Finally, do you need some road trip ideas? Check out the following itineraries for the best road trip routes:
- North Island in One Week: New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary
- South Island in One Week: New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary
- North Island in Two Weeks: New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary
- South Island in Two Weeks: New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary
- New Zealand in Three Weeks: Road Trip Itinerary
- New Zealand in a Month: Road Trip Itinerary