North Island RoadTour Sept 2020

After a great meet-up in New Plymouth on Day 2 of the 2020 Roadtour the EVs set off separately for the Wellington area - and took advantage of the multiplicity of ChargeNet chargers down SH1 from which to catch a few electrons - they all were visited by one or more of the group!


Bailey from ChargeNet had a 'sticker maintenance' mission for the DC chargers whilst driving the electric Mini which got envious stares from many!

The permanent NI tour group comprised 3 Tesla Model 3, 2 Tesla Model S, 2 Hyundai Kona, a BMW i3 and the electric Mini, although we had an extra couple of Model 3s and a model X that joined us for some legs!

Leaving Wellington behind us, the drive up the Rimutaka Hill was effortless with all that torque at our disposal but Featherston is a convenient coffee stop, and once one car had decided which cafe to patronise the rest of us followed, until the line up outside looked like a Tesla convention! 

With nothing specific planned as we journeyed north with Feilding our overnight destination, one car stopped at the Pukaha Wildlife Centre and suggested it as a worthwhile place for lunch! It was an absolute delight with several aviaries of native birds including kaka, kakariki and kokako and the most amazing exhibit - a white kiwi.  The group were delighted to find a couple of destination chargers here, recently installed by Meridian, and the Pukaha staff were thrilled to be able to get images of EVs plugged in for their literature! EV conversations resulted spontaneously.

The leg from Feilding to Taupo is pretty much all uphill and by the time one of the Tesla S's had reached Waiouru the usage rate was up about a third to 227Wh/km.  Good job there are chargers at the Army Museum, as well as a great coffee stop and shop!

The highlight on Wednesday was a customised visit to the Wairakei Geothermal plant of Contact Energy. We were the first post-Covid visit they had hosted so we were very lucky.  A short presentation explained the geology of the Wairakei Geothermal Field, which is quite unique, and leads to Contact having specialist knowledge which they 'export' to many countries. Commissioned in 1958 the current wells will be de-commissioned shortly and a newer area of the geothermal field to the south east of the Wairakei plant will be started.

A whole-group dinner was undertaken thereafter at the Wairakei Resort , following some hardy souls plunging into a geothermally warmed outdoor swimming pool - 35Deg C was the temperature so it was most pleasant!

Our final night's accommodation was in Coromandel Town, and the drive up SH25 on the west coast on the peninsula was challenging as large SUVs with boats took some of the blind corners with gay abandon! The double trailer delivery vans also caused concern when on the opposite side of the road!

Friday morning saw us all return down SH25 to Thames for a guided tour of the Thames School of Mines - hosted by Russell, a friend of John Leenman, a BNZT champion. Russell's engaging manner as he told us the history of gold mining in the Coromandel was infectious and as an adjunct a local tale-spinning legend called Rosalie finished off the morning with a re-enactment of thieving and scullduggery on the gold fields which had us all in stitches!

A great end to a week of EV travels and new friendships.  The tour was roughly 1,700 km in length if you started in  Auckland and ended back there, but at least two cars had more to travel to get back to the Kaipara! The Trust was humbled to have ChargeNet again provide all tourers with free charging for the week!

Photo credits - Robert Nicholls, Kathryn Trounson

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