Our “Work” Trip to Taupo in the Tesla

For those of you who aren’t already aware of the fact, the Hobbit family are EVangelists (evangelical about Electric Vehicle technology and promotion)

So a couple of years ago, when a chap named Rob McEwan contacted my husband and asked him to attend an EV conference here in Auckland – little did we know it would herald.

Long story short, Rob is the president of APEV(The Association for the Promotion of Electric Vehicles) here in NZ.  He’s a clever, enthusiastic, and very well travelled man who is passionate about interesting, ethical and sustainable endeavors.  Nice fella, and very Hobbit compatible it turns out.

We attended the Green Living show at Auckland’s ASB show-grounds with him a couple of weeks ago, and accepted an invitation to come down to get the ball rolling on his Evolocity competition and events which will be happening at the end of 2014 (more on that later, it is AMAZING!).  We gratefully accepted the offer, palmed the kids off to family members and headed south for three days.

Now, for those of you who aren’t familiar with EV, there is something called range anxiety that EV drivers have to contend with, especially in places like New Zealand where the uptake is at an almost pre-early adopter/pioneering stage in the roll out.  There is no high-speed infrastructure here to charge our cars if we run low on juice.  So we rely on people we know to allow us to plug in if we need juicing up between destinations, as any 10amp socket will work to slow charge an EV.

This will change, as my mega-man-crush Elon Musk is rolling out an amazing network of quick charge stations around California and the rest of the continental USA, but NZ is often the last to get on board with this stuff.

Where was I…

Oh yes.

Grumpy studiously did his math and figured out we could make it from our door to Taupo, but we decided it would be safer to detour to Rotorua for the night to charge.

So we did.

The owners of the New Castle Motor Lodge where we stayed were bemused, but very sweet about letting us stick an extension chord out the window to Charge the car overnight.  It was cheap and clean and cheerful and we would recommend it to any of our friends if they are cruising through Rotovegas for any reason!


So after snapping a couple of pictures, we were on the road again.   Unsure as to whether we would feel welcome staying at Rob’s place, and also unsure about our range, we arranged with the New Castle Motel owners to stay with them on Monday night and head home from there.

Well, any misgivings we might have had were well and truly put to rest when we pulled up to our digs for the night.

Rob had mentioned that he owned a lodge, but what on earth that meant we had no idea.  We also own a lodge, which is a little bit more than a wooden tent at the bottom of a ski field compared to the five star resort in Acacia Bay that Rob and his fantastic wife Becky own.


So yes… we felt pretty darned welcome.

Back to the car.

We plugged the little red rocket in and sat down for a cup of tea with our hosts.

We talked about clean energy, we talked about impending environmental and social crises, we talked about plenty of touchy subjects and found that Becky and I were often on the same page, while Rob and Steve were also quite prone to agree with each other.

It was nice.  Very nice.

That night there was much wine and laughter and fantastic food shared with fabulous new friends.  I have a pretty tough job and a really hard life wouldn’t you say?

In the morning we headed out on meetings.  Some of which I am not at liberty to share.

We ended up at the race track in Taupo where I met three amazing people, all of whom I’ll be working closely with over the next 18 months to help Rob get this amazing event up and running.

One of them was the world famous retired Formula One driver Chris Amon.  I was pleased to see that we had so much in common.  Chris is a humble guy, who was a true early adopter with sustainable living and he put solar on his property back in the days it was eye-wateringly expensive to do so.

Chris also adores Toyota, as do we.  And we’re longing for the day when Toyota comes out with full electric vehicles, as we currently own three Hybrids (Prius, Lexus GS450h, and Estima seven seater soccer mom van) that we adore.  Chris and I had a great talk about the Lexus.  I felt mighty chuffed to be treated like a girl racer by someone as genuinely cool as Chris.

We invited Chris down to take a ride around the track in the Tesla.

We talked it up like a couple of proud parents of an honor student or something.  So really, someone with such an amazing track record (pun intended) might be let down by the experience of driving an EV race car around a track for the first time.

Nope.  Dude landed back at the pit stop after he’d taken a few laps with an EV grin from ear to ear.  He described his experience as “magic” and that is exactly how we feel.


We landed back at Tauhara Sunrise Lodge and I settled in for a quiet afternoon while Grumpy hung out with Rob.

We had a lovely dinner with our hosts and an early night and then headed back to Auckland the next morning.

I am so honoured to be a part of this.


Thanks for tuning in and PLEASE like the APEV facebook page as I am helping to administrate it and would Love to share all the exciting news about what we’re doing with you.


Gatsby got me thinking…

Today I am going to talk about money.

Can’t stand the stuff.  Historically couldn’t give it away fast enough.  Self preservations and the realisation that with zero moneys comes zero opportunities for adventures abroad, has changed this attitude.  Also, thinking that I had any clue how to successfully distribute cash to help solve the world’s (or even neighbours and friends) ills was utterly conceited and has not panned out well for the most part.

Offering advice, expertise, opportunities and experiences often has positive and sustainable effects though.  I can confidently report that in my experience, money is strange and annoying whether one has too much or too little of it.  I’m erring close to deciding I’m in “just enough” territory these days, as I look toward the future and our goals for sustainability require thoughtful budgeting and foresight.  Enough is the nicest place to be if one can find it, although it is just a state of mind once your basic needs on Maslow’s Hierarchy are comfortably met.

Back to Gatsby.

A couple of weeks ago Grumpy and I arranged a sitter and went off to see Baz Luhrmann’s latest OTT screen extravaganza: The Great Gatsby.

I really enjoyed it.

I used to joke with Grumpy that I needed a castle.  I can safely and honestly say I have ditched that idea.  Castles appear to be very bad omens indeed… Well, as a literary tool they often are.  And who would clean the darned thing if we did own one.  Certainly not me!

Our conversation upon leaving the movie theatre went a little something like this:

Dee:  See, I told you, money is evil.

Grumpy: I think you might of missed the point.

Dee:  Okay, money is evil if you are a hedonistic narcissist with no conscience?

Grumpy: Closer.

Dee: Gatsby was great I reckon.  Hope is awesome.  Love a good tragedy. Not a very good romance though.  Daisy was a bit of a shallow bitch really.

Grumpy: Smiled and cuddled his wife.

The movie and its many layers has been swimming around in my head since we watched it, and the gaps I see daily between haves and have-nots seem somewhat starker since the 143 minutes of escapism we enjoyed in a dark theatre on Auckland’s affluent North Shore.

I have only ever lived in OECD (first world) nations.

Visiting the developing world has often shone a bit of a light on the conceit of being a well healed white girl that I can somehow “help” the nations I visit.  I’ve had numerous opportunities to get involved with already established charities on our travels.  What is becoming more and more apparent though, is how much I have to learn about happiness from the poorer residents of the countries that have hosted us through the years.

Some of the seemingly happiest, and undeniably warmest and friendliest people I’ve seen have been living in very poor circumstances.  Island children with the warmest imaginable smiles welcoming us into their schools and hospitals and villages, or thai boat people waving and smiling as we sailed past their humble shanty accommodation on the way to the floating markets.  Lives uncomplicated by the pressure of airs and graces that you’ll find on the Upper East Side or in and around Kensington.

I’d also like to touch on the fact that F. Scott Fitzgerald published Gatsby in 1925, before Black Tuesday and hinted throughout the book and in his own tumultuous life that what goes up must come down.

It seems we have not learned much since the publishing of this prophetic and integral piece of American literature.  2013 is marked by a widening gaps between haves and have-nots the world over.  Our planet is choking so that the status quo of a few very rich people getting ever richer is maintained through big oil, multi-nationals, and soulless corporations.

Exponential growth and conspicuous consumerism have left quite a mess and created a lot of false hopes and promises.  Things do not make us happy. Well, they don’t make me happy (for very long) anyway.  I know plenty of people who would argue that a great pair of shoes or a designer handbag can be the difference between a raging depressive episode and a confident charge ahead.  That’s not for me to judge or discuss at this point.  Maybe in another blog I will.

Poor rich debutante Daisy had her every whim and fancy fulfilled and could make terrible decisions without consequence and she was “bored”, the poor poppet.  Definitely the most tragic character in the story.  I don’t really see Gatsby as a victim, just a very successful confidence man with hope and ambition to burn.  I’d prefer not to have too many people like him in my inner social circle, but as a fictional character and splintered piece of Fitzgerald’s own personality, I felt very warm towards him indeed.  Anyone I might meet in real life that is too much like him will be almost certainly be written off as a douche bag though.  Is that ironic?  Probably.

So anyway.

I think with the way things are going and all the beautiful peaceful protests against Monsanto, and against corruption in Brazil, and Egypt and Turkey, that a change is about to come.

The soulless rich the world over are slowly but steadily being taken to task, and as we continue to voraciously consume and leave a mighty mess in our wake, the bubble that will burst just becomes bigger and scarier.  The roaring 20’s showed us a preview and apparently we did not listen.

And it just dawned on me this moment what came after that was fairly messy indeed.  A depression followed by WW2.  And then the baby boom that delivered our parents’ generation and then their children who fuelled the tech bubble and a widening and almost insurmountable gap between the have’s and have-nots.


I officially don’t know anything about anything.

Great Gatsby was a stimulating and somewhat cerebral movie.

The world is going to hell in a hand basket, but there is still plenty of joy and hope to be found if you look for it, and most of it doesn’t cost anything but the time it takes to seek it out.

I wish you all a pleasant week.

I’m going to start planning my escape to the country now, because this post has ended in me feeling like it is all a bit too much.


Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts 🙂