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Nelson to Christchurch in my Leaf

A trip by William Stewart. Map

I just got back to Christchurch from a trip to Nelson and I made a video about bridging the gap of 200km between fast chargers in the Lewis pass in my Nissan Leaf.

Usually, with my electric vehicle road trip videos, I like to show how easy it is to drive with an electric car. This is not that, we took the road less travelled, which resulted in a total charging time greater than the trip itself! But the reason for that is that it's about the journey, not just the time it takes you to get there.

I wanted to go home via the Lewis pass because it's been a while since I've explored this region, and I wanted to visit Hanmer Springs on the way. However, there is currently a massive 200 km gap over mountainous terrain in our fast-charging network.

It's 117km to Murchison from the charger in Richmond, Nelson, which according to Power Trip, would leave me only with about 13% spare, even with charging to 99%.

Then from there, the route would take me to Springs Junction, which is another 80km or so, and there is no charging infrastructure in Springs. Continuing on to Hanmer Springs is another 96km, before finally arriving back to the fast charging network in Culverden, which is 36km from Hanmer.

The key to solving this problem is Springs Junction, now any EV owner will know that you can charge anywhere there is power, with a household socket putting out on average enough power for 10km per hour, and a caravan socket giving 20km an hour.

Luckily within Springs Junction is the Lewis Pass Motel, which is friendly to EV owners and listed on Plugshare, for a $5 flat rate charge. However, arriving there from Springs Junction would use about 80% of my battery, leaving me with at least a 4hour charging session.

We made the decision to detour to Reefton instead. It's an extra hour to get to Springs Junction via Reefton, but there is a 25KW charger in Reefton AND while it's 88km from Murchinson, more importantly, is that it's only 45km from Springs Junction, meaning I can arrive in Springs Junction with more power remaining, reducing the charging needed.

We arrived in Murchison with 22%, and charging to 80%, arrived in Reefton with 17%. At Reefton, it took 45min to charge to 100%, and we made it to Springs Junction with 61% remaining.

The range indicator in my Leaf said 100km remaining, and it was only 96km to Hanmer Springs, however, rather than risking it, we charged for 2 hours. I could have charged just for 1hour, and we still would have an ample buffer.

We left Springs Junction with 95% and made it to Hanmer Springs with a whopping 28% remaining, so only 62% used, which suggests that charging at Springs Junction is optional if you full charge at Reefton, however, I wouldn't want to risk that, for my first go.

After spending 4hours in the pools, we left Hanmer Springs on 95%, and with a 4 minute top up to 80% in Culverden, handily made it all the way back to Christchurch.

My car is a 2016 30kw Nissan Leaf, at 78% SOH, and I had a Caravan EVSE and a Type 1 to Type 2 cable, to charge at Lewis Pass Motel and Hanmer Springs.