Finding the extension cord’s limits

A spherical concretion in the Hampden playground. PHOTO: PETER DOWDEN
A spherical concretion in the Hampden playground. PHOTO: PETER DOWDEN
Hampden proved just far enough, writes Peter Dowden.

That sweeping view of Katiki Beach, one of few places where SH1 meets our coast, always brings out the joy of travel or the happy anticipation of a welcome arrival back home.

All I got was a dry mouth. The battery gauge on my electric vehicle showed 27km. I knew that Hampden was only 24km away, but the alleged 55km from Dunedin to Palmerston had already swallowed over 80km. It must have been those two monsters of hills, the precipitous Leith Saddle and the dreaded Kilmog.

This was the first foray out of town in our sparking new (well, second hand) Nissan eNV-200. My mission: a post-Covid, post-carbon family day out to test the boundaries of battery range.

As we crested the rise into Hampden, the dashboard showed no indication of any energy left. We coasted up to the charging station and gave our starving car a good feed of battery juice, kindly donated by lines company Network Waitaki.

This gave us time for some enthusiastic hand sanitising and a feed at the local fish and chips shop, a walk at the beach with its faux-Moeraki boulders and a bit of patisserie shopping at the local superette, which runs its own quite decent bakery.

Travel, they say, broadens the mind. It certainly broadened mine to moderate my speed on the way home, take the twisty Coast Rd south via Karitane and Warrington rather than assailing the mighty Kilmog again, and to resolve in future to fill the "tank" to the very last drop, as one does with liquid fuel before crossing a desert.

Dunedin to Hampden is about the longest leg in any South Island e-trip, so I knew if we could handle that, we could handle just about anything. Climbing out of the dipper towards Leith Saddle on the way home, the warning light came on. I brushed aside any concern: "Only one summit left".

At the foot of Pine Hill our battery had found another 24km of recycled juice gathered on the descent. This becoming an EV-gan is easy, I thought.

If you go

Hampden has its own rapid charger for electric vehicles, installed by the community and free to use.

There are plans for a rapid charger at Palmerston.

The Salt and Sugar General Store, in Karitane, and Blueskin Nurseries, at Waitati, both have 15 amp "opportunity" chargers.

Some camping grounds along the route also make their 15 amp caravan plugs available for charging. See

When all else fails, you can recharge using any domestic 8 amp socket.

 - Peter Dowden

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