When it comes to exploring the wider Queenstown region, an electric vehicle (EV) is a great way to roll – you’ll save money on petrol, enjoy a quiet ride as you take in Queenstown’s landscapes, and zero emissions make going electric feel real good.
Wondering if exploring Queenstown by electric vehicle is for you? This guide to getting around Queenstown by EV will answer all your questions.
Arriving in Queenstown in your EV
If you’re driving to Queenstown in your EV, it’s a good idea to plan your route in advance and identify locations where you can charge up your electric vehicle. There are several apps you can use to find charging stations.
- Plugshare has a free app and website.
- New Zealand’s transport agency Waka Kotahi has a list of charging stations.
- ChargeNet is one of the largest charging networks in NZ with 280+ charging stations.
You’ll find two types of charging stations on the road: fast charging and hyper fast charging. All EVs and plug-in hybrid EVs can use fast charging stations, and these take 30-60 minutes to charge your EV. Tesla, Polestar, and new Kia and Hyundai can use hyper fast chargers which give you a full charge in around 15 minutes. Charging stations cost around $10 per 100km, so significantly less than petrol.
If you prefer to fly into Queenstown you can hire an EV, pick it up at the airport, and charge it up again at the airport before you drop it back.
EV at Queenstown Airport
Hiring an EV in Queenstown
There are multiple places to hire an EV in Queenstown. All are located near Queenstown Airport, so it’s easy to collect your car on arrival. When you hire your EV, it’s a good idea to check if it comes with a charging cable/adapter. Hotels around Queenstown have overnight chargers, and you’ll need a cable to use them. A Tesla-to-J1722 adapter also allows you to use Tesla Destination chargers.
- Go Rentals offer Tesla rentals.
- Sixt offer Polestars
- Snap Rentals have a VW E-Golfs and hybrid Toyotas to choose from.
- Europcar hire out the electric BMW i3.
If you’re flying into another New Zealand city and driving to Queenstown, Avis and Hertz are national car rental networks offering EVs. Both have Queenstown locations, so you can drop off your hire car here if you plan to fly out of Queenstown, but they don’t yet stock EVs locally.
If you’ve never driven an EV before, you might wonder if you need a lesson. The short answer is no. If you’re an experienced driver, the controls of an EV are the same as a petrol car. Every car model is subtly different, so you may need a few minutes to familiarise yourself with your EV, but you don’t have to learn new driving principles.
Things that can surprise newbie EV drivers are the lack of engine noise and the fact that EVs only have one gear, so acceleration is very fast. EVs also use regenerative braking to recharge the battery. When you take your foot off the accelerator, the car will automatically gradually start to brake, which can feel a bit different. But while these quirks may feel a little odd the first time you drive your EV, you’ll get used to them fast.
EV-friendly hotels in Queenstown
These Queenstown accommodation options offer EV charging, although some are Tesla only, so make sure charging facilities meet your EV needs before you book.
- Driftaway Holiday Park. This lakeside holiday park takes sustainability seriously, and all villas and cabins have a free EV charger.
- The Heritage Hotel has a Tesla charger and a universal Type 2 charger that takes 4-10 hours to fully charge an EV.
- Creeksyde Holiday Park in central Queenstown has two EV chargers.
- The Rees Hotel has a Tesla charger and a Type 2 charger. Charges are free to hotel guests and a flat $5 fee for the public.
- Sherwood’s environmental focus means they have an EV charger.
- Boutique Victorian villa hotel Hulbert House has an EV charger.
- Hotel St Moritz has two Tesla chargers.
- Crowne Plaza also has two Tesla chargers.
EV Charging at Driftaway Holiday Park
Charging your EV in Queenstown
If your accommodation doesn’t offer EV charging there are several convenient locations around Queenstown where it’s easy to pull up and charge up your vehicle. Check out Plugshare for a full list of Queenstown EV charging points.
- In central Queenstown, there’s a ChargeNet charging station with two chargers on Athol Street, a Tesla Destination charger on Park Street by the Queenstown Gardens, and another on Beach Street.
- Queenstown Airport has six Tesla Destination chargers. These work for any EV that has a Type 2 charging port or adapter.
- PAK’nSAVE in Frankton has a fast charger so you can top up your EV while you stock up on groceries.
- There are two Tesla Destination chargers in the parking basement below Kmart in Frankton’s Five Mile Shopping Centre.
- The Tesla Superchargers in Queenstown are in the Remarkables Park Town Centre.
- Ski fields Coronet Peak and The Remarkable both have Tesla Destination chargers.
Charging your EV takes between 15 minutes to an hour, depending on whether you’re using a fast charger or a hyper fast charger / Tesla Supercharger. But if you need to wait around for half an hour or so for your car to charge, there’s no shortage of fun things to do.
Charging up at Coronet Peak is a perfect excuse to hit the mountain bike trails over summer.. Or if you’re there in winter, your car will be fully charged after a few runs on the slopes. Frankton and Five Mile have an array of favourite local eateries where you can grab a tasty bite while you charge.
Adventuring around Queenstown with your EV
To explore Queenstown’s surrounding regions, it’s easy to hire an EV and hit the road but you may want to plan your expedition with range in mind. Depending on your car make and model, you’ll probably have more than enough juice to make it to Te Anau in Fiordland and back. Remember hilly roads use up more power, and using your heater or air-con also reduces your range.
Charging in the local regions is a little patchier than in Queenstown, but there are still plenty of places to top up.
- Glenorchy has a ChargeNet station on Mull Street, and there are Tesla Destination chargers on Kinloch Road and on the Glenorchy-Queenstown road.
- Hampshire Holiday Parks - Arrowtown offers EV charging.
- The nearest chargers to Gibbston are in Queenstown or Cromwell.
- The nearest EV charger to Kingston is south of the village between Nokomai and Parawa on State Highway 6.
- There is a Tesla charging station in Te Anau.
If you’re in town to ski, you can drive your EV up to Coronet Peak and The Remarkables, and both ski fields have Tesla Destination charging stations. Whichever ski field you choose, allow plenty of time to get up the mountain, carry chains, and check each mountain’s snow report before you go.
If you’d rather someone else did the driving, you can still explore the region low-impact style with a Nomad Safari Tesla tour of Queenstown's history and landscape.
Queenstown - Glenorchy Road. Credit @worldofleedham on Instagram.
Get more from your visit to Queenstown
Queenstown is working towards becoming carbon zero by 2030 and one way you’ll be helping us achieve this goal is by exploring by EV.