The country's biggest motorhome rental company is about to extend a trial of electric camper vans that it hopes will lead to a big rollout by the turn of the decade.

Tourism Holdings will soon start trialling its prototype vehicle in the South Island after a North Island trial over summer. It hopes to have e-RVs available for rent later this year.

The THL motorhome fleet is 1800-strong and the company aims to have 5 per cent of them electric by 2020 and hopes the charging network will grow.

The first vehicle in the trial was a Nissan e-NV200 minivan which has been converted into a 2-berth sleeper van. The company is now developing multiple design concepts in a variety of form, factors, sizes and type with manufacturing partner Action Manufacturing.


There were no specific figures for the cost of running the vehicle, which was described as having a quiet and smooth ride.

Government agency the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority awarded THL a $402,000 grant to accelerate the availability of electric motorhomes, invest in charging equipment and develop itineraries with charging stations at certain intervals along the way.

The company is developing itineraries on a minimum 150km range.

Chief executive Grant Webster said his company was working with the Holiday Park Association and hopes to see charging stations in several parks over the coming months with a rapid expansion over the next few years.

The speed of production depended on the speed of the charging.

"Once we have the model right, the pricing right and we are happy the infrastructure in New Zealand can support it, we will be able to plan larger scale production."

Travellers will be able to charge e-RVs in a number of ways including overnight chargers, fast charging with a five minute to 30-minute top up and shorter interim top-ups of one to two hours at popular tourist destinations such as the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves.

The company says the e-RV itineraries were an opportunity for the regions and those who have invested in charging infrastructure - guiding travellers throughout the country - rather than just the main tourist centres.