Jessica Lee and her partner were one of our first customers to take our brand spanking new Britz EV eVolve campervan out for an unforgettable roadtrip around Queenstown and Central Otago. Their 5 day trip started at our Britz campervan branch in Queenstown and they stopped in Dunedin, Waitaki, visited the mesmerizing lake Tekapo, Mt Cook, beautiful Wanaka and then back to Queenstown. Read on to find out what Jessica has to say about their trip and their thoughts on their electric campervan experience!
Words and images by Jessica Lee
5 - 7 Days
Queenstown to Queenstown
Best Time of the Year
- Lake Tekapo
- Mt Cook
Queenstown to Dunedin
We woke up late from our hotel and made our way to the Britz Campervan Branch at Queenstown airport to pick up our first ever EV campervan. We checked in and had the grand tour of the brand spanking new Britz EV which appeared to be a cosy spacious luxury home on wheels! We were given a rundown of how the EV works including all of its gadgets and equipment and things we need to know.
And off we went on our longest leg of the trip – QUEENSTOWN TO DUNEDIN.
On the way, we checked out the towering Hydroelectric Clyde Dam and took in the sights of the blue waters flowing down to the amber and orange leafed town, which is home to the renowned Nom Nom Home Made Ice Creamery.
We continued to our first fast charge, which admittingly was a little premature, as the range of the EV is 120km and we were sitting at about 80km. We pulled into a little town called Alexandra and used the Plugshare App, to locate a fast charger in a carpark off the main street.There were two spaces for charging, one for a car and one for an EV. We noticed that the position of the Fast Charger was situated at the front (where as an EV charger is on the side), so we took up both spots & left a note with our number on the windscreen, walked into a friendly old pub and met some of the locals and before we knew it 45 minutes was up and we had a full charge.
After a full day of exploring and stops in small towns guided by the Britz EV itinerary, we arrive at our first pre-booked overnight stay at the Leith Valley Holiday Park (luckily) as we pulled in just before midnight!
MY TOP PICKS IN QUEENSTOWN
For something different: Perkys BYO Food
A stationary boat docked in Queenstown Lakefront on Lake Wakatipu, where you can BYO food & enjoy a few drinks from the on-board bar!
For a Quick Bite: Taco Medic
Unique Taco’s made up before your eyes with friendly servers & Mexican tunes!
Funky Comfort: The Bunker Bar
Quaint Funky Bar with endless drink options, friendly bartenders & lounges around inside & outside open fireplace.
Fine Dining – The Grille by Eichardt's
Fine dining and lovely ambiance on the waterfront.
Dunedin to Waitaki
We woke up around 9.30am after an amazing sleep. I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable and warm the bed was in our EV, the only issue was the sound of a snoring partner next to me. We jumped out the door to a flowing creek & realised campervaners are early risers, we were the least to leave! We headed down to the town and found parking the EV in Dunedin's CBD is super easy, you can’t miss the stunning Dunedin Railway Station, which has parking around the side.
After a walk around the town, we got back in the EV & had our first experience with the EV turtle mode! Turtle mode can happen randomly after the EV has been turned off, you turn the keys to power it back on & nothing happens, except a little pesky turtle light on the dashboard. Luckily, the team at the Britz branch had explained this to us already so we followed the instructions, pulled the keys out and waited 1 minute. Keys back in, turn to the left & voila! We were on.
We drove around the coast and up the steep windy stretch to the top of Larnach Castle, a must see if you are into architecture, views and a trip back in time. Make sure you upgrade your tickets to enter the Castle, its worth every Kiwi dollar. On our way out of Dunedin, we stopped by Baldwin Street – which is in the Guinness Book of Records for the STEEPEST street in the world.
We arrived around 7.30pm at the Glenavy Motor Inn to be greeted by the very friendly owners who were so excited to house their first EV! They recommended a pub around the corner called the Glenavy Hotel, where they sell beautiful pub grub with a warm local atmosphere.
MY TOP PICKS IN DUNEDIN
Potpourri: A vegan/vegetarian café that has the best granola bowl on the planet – no joke
Top to do's: Larnach Castle & Dunedin Railway Station
MY TOP PICKS IN WAITIKI
Glenavy Hotel: Big Plates in a warm local atmosphere
Waitiki to Lake Tekapo
The drive from Waitiki to Lake Tekapo is a short drive but one of the most beautiful! If you are feeling like something hearty and warm to fill you up while you Fast Charge, make a stop at Fairlie Bakehouse & try one of their famous pies!
We had pre-booked at the Lake Tekapo Holiday Park (1 day ahead) which we realised was not early enough. It is quite a busy holiday park so make sure to book in advance to secure the best camper site – Tip: Call up in advance and request site No.30 (It has the best views in camp). When you arrive, the reception will tell you about the dedicated EV site which is fantastic, however, it doesn’t have as good as views as the normal camper sites which can be used by EVs overnight anyway!
Lake Tekapo WOW! What a way to wake up right at the lakeside. Today, we realised there is truly no other way to travel but by campervan. You have adventures at your fingertips & comfort at your toes! Do not leave Lake Tekapo without driving up to Mt John Observatory. The view from the top is incredible! As Lake Tekapo is part of the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, there are stargazing nights to get up close and personal with the galaxy. If heights aren’t your thing, soak up the milky way from the Lake Tekapo’s own hot springs!
MY TOP PICK IN LAKE TEKAPO
Kohan Restaurant: Some of the best Japanese food around!
Lake Tekapo - Mt Cook
The drive from Lake Tekapo to Mt Cook is a decent stretch with no charge in between so plan your day or take a detour through Twizel and grab some groceries for your EV cook up, as there are no grocery stores around MT Cook. Then continue on to Omarama and while you recharge soak up the mountain range views from your own private hot tub at Omarama Hot Tubs!
As you drive through the picturesque trek to Mt Cook, you will come across a pit stop that you must take- a viewing point for Mt Cook, where you can get some incredible shots!
We pulled into the beautiful Glentanner Holiday Park, where we chose a leafy spot to stay for the night. Once we were settled in and charging, we pulled out the potatoes, broccoli and salmon, fired up the cooktop and off we went, cooking up a storm as if we were at home. The facilities at Glentanner are second to none and the showers are pristine & lounge/kitchen area is huge. If you think Mt. Cook looks good from the EV, step out of your comfort zone and take a scenic flight over Mt Cook or heli-hike the Tasman Glacier!
MY TOP PICKS IN MT COOK
Hermitage Hotel: a great place to grab a bite with incredible views
Explore one of the many scenic roots by car or foot within Mt Cook National Park Area.
Mt Cook to Wanaka
The drive from Mt Cook to Wanaka is stunning! The landscape seems to change every 500m. The drive is windy, steep and can get a backlog of cars so slow down and let others pass where possible.
We pulled into Wanaka, hooked up to the fast charger located on the main street & discovered some of the best Italian around at a well-hidden restaurant called Francesca’s. Once our bellies were full, we pulled into the Wanaka Kiwi Holiday Park, a very modern, well-maintained family owned and operated holiday park, only a couple of minutes drive from the town centre.
After one of the best sleep I’ve ever had, I was super excited to visit the famous Wanaka Tree. After wrestling with the other 100 tourists over the best photo spot, we returned to the EV to meet our not so ninja turtle friend - Turtle Mode. This time it was a little different, the turtle light was on but so was the battery light. After a few attempts at what worked previously, we called the Britz hotline and were told they would send out a mechanic right away, there are definitely much worse places than Lake Wanaka to be stranded that’s for sure.
Shortly after the local mechanic Tim (or in your best Kiwi accent, TUM) turned up, opened the bonnet and looked under the hood. He was new to EV's and ended up taking us back to Queenstown in his tow truck with his human-sized dog with the EV.
We had a really good chat with him & learnt a lot about the local tourism, the land & everything else Wanaka, he even offered to take us for some FESH AND CHEPS!
We mentioned to Tim that we had planned on stopping at a few vantage points for some photos of the captivating landscape back to Queenstown and Tim generously pulled into a few lookouts for us to grab some quick snaps.
We were sad to be arriving back in Queenstown Britz HQ to say goodbye to our home for the last 5 days.
The EV was much more than I ever expected, the upmost comfort, access to adventure and endless views plus the opportunity to meet some lovely people and visit some quaint towns most people would miss out the count down for the next EV road trip is on!
MY TOP PICKS IN WANAKA
Francesca’s Italian Kitchen: The best meal I had throughout the whole trip!
The Big Fig: Big Cheap meals for dinner & unique combos for brekkie!
Lindi’s Summit – Work off those road trip snacks with a beautiful trek up to Lindi’s Summit, the view is like no other!