Electric hatchback reaches Wanaka from Timaru in high country trip's first leg
A Timaru man's all-electric hatchback has reached Wanaka in the first stage of a South Island road trip.
Martin Kane is driving his Nissan Leaf on a round trip to Punakaiki on the West Coast and announced on Monday afternoon he had reached Wanaka two days after leaving Timaru.
The car has a range of about 100 kilometres on straight, flat road, but Kane has taken the car up the Waitaki Valley and through the Lindis Pass to test its limits.
Kane said he had been most concerned about the Leaf's ability to climb the Lindis Pass, but the ascent "actually turned into a non-event."
He charged up at the Dunstan Downs sheep station before driving over it.
"I only used a quarter of the battery to get up the Pass and, with regeneration downhill on the other side, used even less to get the remaining distance to Tarras."
Although some public charging facilities exist in New Zealand, Kane has relied on private plugs to charge his car on the 1344km, 10 day journey.
"There's been some great support from places en route so far."
The car received a charge on Monday at Tarras School, where Kane met pupils who gave him a cauliflower from their school garden.
"Tarras is due for a fast charger over the next four years through ChargeNet but I think I could've continued to Wanaka or Cromwell without the stop here."
ChargeNet is developing a network of fast-charging facilities, including one under construction in Christchurch and two expected to open in TImaru and Waimate this year.
Kane is driving his vehicle at 80kmh to limit wind resistance and allow other motorists to overtake easily.
"Everyone seems happy with that."
He plans to head to Haast on Tuesday, and reach Punakaiki by Saturday. He then plans to cross Arthur's Pass to reach Christchurch on January 11 before returning to Timaru on January 12.
The trip has taken months of preparation, and Kane said it was "wonderful to have the adventure underway".
While preparing for the trip in August, he said part of the excitement was in proving the hatchback could be used as more than a city car. He believes electric cars have the potential to reduce New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions.
Details of Kane's trip can be found on his evtrip.nz website.