Living a little lighter in Hawea on my electric UBCO motorbike

When my partner and I split up a year and a half ago, I left Lyttelton and fled straight back into Wānaka’s familiar arms. My home for years and years, it made sense to return to my old home. A place I knew well and conveniently five hours away from Lyttelton, here I could hide, heal, and hopefully become whole again. 

Itinerant for nine months, I bopped around from houses to Airbnb’s to apartments to my parent’s home to my car until my foggy mind started to become sharp again. Looking back now, I don’t even remember a lot of it. It was so painful. Half alive by winter, I realized I needed to get my shit together and figure out where I would live. Half-heartedly looking for rentals in Wānaka, scoffing loudly at how expensive they’ve gotten, on a whim, I went to look at a newly built little one-bedroom flat out in Hāwea, a lakeside village 20 minutes from Wānaka. It was perfect. 

So many of my friends moved out here over the years as it was more affordable than Wānaka. That being said, you’d be hard-pressed these days to find a house under a cool million. Sigh. I need to write more books. 

ubco motorbike in New Zealand

ubco motorbike in New Zealand

And just like like that, it’s been nearly a year since I’ve called Hāwea home. And I’m loving every minute of it. I remember seeing posties delivering the mail on an unusual-looking bike in New Zealand.

When I came across UBCO online, I made the connection. I sold my little red scooter a year before; while I’m not quite ready to have an electric car, a hardy adventure bike is perfect for me.

I’ve been exploring my new backyard all year from the back of my new UBCO electric motorbike. There are so many epic tramps and stunning trails that I never checked out when I lived in Wānaka. Isn’t it funny how that happens? Nearly ten years here, and I barely scratched the surface. 

Around here, many of the tracks and cool spots are down dusty dirt roads, perfect for exploring from the back of tough UBCO motorbike in New Zealand, made for off-roading. And it feels even better knowing that it’s fully electric and I’m leaving no footprints, only light tire tracks.  

ubco motorbike in New Zealand

It’s a bit of a long and convoluted story, but after my split, I ended up with both of our cars: my trusty old 1996 Nissan Terrano and a flashy little red Alfa Romeo Giulietta. It wasn’t a good thing. I tried to sell the Alfa but couldn’t get enough to pay off the car loan, so I ended up selling the truck that I had for years and years. It was heartbreaking! I loved Ron! (he was burgundy colored, get it?) But he was getting old, and he was diesel, and it probably was time to upgrade. 

What’s wild is that these tough and unbreakable trucks are in hot demand. I had it for nearly eight years, put over 100,000 kilometers on it, and sold it for more than I paid for it. Go figure.

That left me with my zippy red European car, which costs me around $175 to fill up the fuel tank, and I can’t take it on most of the mountain roads I love. FML. So I don’t want to hear any complaints from my fellow Americans about gas prices. 

For a while, I was planning for my next car to be electric, though how my flat works, I’m not sure how I could install a charger for it. But UBCO turns out to be the perfect solution – I can charge it in a normal wall plug. 

ubco motorbike in New Zealand

ubco motorbike in New Zealand

Transport emissions are the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand and account for 20% of all the emissions we produce. In fact, nearly 70% of all transport CO2 emissions are from cars, SUVs, utes, vans, and light trucks. That’s a lot.

As the years tick by, I can’t help but become more and more invested in focusing on stories of changemakers, people, and businesses doing good. Homegrown on high country farms, UBCO was founded in New Zealand on the premise of a rugged all-wheel-drive electric utility bike. Their sustainability initiatives and goals align with mine. 

No fuel, no noise, no clutch, no gears, and no emissions. And it gets 120km per charge. I mean, come on, how great is that?

Now operating between the US and NZ, UBCO is just like me. 

ubco motorbike in New Zealand

Sustainability has become important to me. I’m slowly shifting towards only working with people with a vested interest in conservation and sustainability. While I’m not perfect, I am aware of my footprint and make steps towards living lighter.

It’s easy to look at the bigger picture of climate change and feel overwhelmed. To think, hmm, we’re screwed, and whatever I do won’t make a difference. But it does! I’m a big believer in that any steps help; you don’t have to flip your life upside down. And the more people that take these little steps, the more businesses and policymakers will have to change to meet the demand. Just my two cents. 

New Zealand, especially the South Island, is relatively sparsely populated. It’s hard to walk to places you visit every day. Things are spread out. But Hāwea has become its own little village, perfect for getting around on a UBCO motorbike in New Zealand. Even to Wānaka.

ubco motorbike in New Zealand

ubco motorbike in New Zealand

Something that I love, especially as someone who knows zero about troubleshooting a motorbike, is that there’s an UBCO app where you can see and control so much of the bike from your phone.

Syncing my 2×2 UBCO bike with the app means I can monitor the power and motor temp, update the bike, and even set up things like regenerative braking. You can also run diagnostics on it – which I’ve already tested out by accident. Turns out I just didn’t have the battery plugged in all the way – fail.

But overall, I’m really digging this new way of getting around. I love feeling like I can fully understand how it runs and make the most of it. It feels easy and simple, and totally manageable. In this day and age, in a busy, fast-paced world, this is a big help in letting me step away from the stress and back into the adventures that I love!

ubco motorbike in New Zealand

ubco motorbike in New Zealand

Nearly every afternoon this summer, I took her on a spin down to the lake for my daily swim and read in the sunshine sesh. And the verdict is in: Lake Hāwea definitely beats Lake Wānaka.

We had such an amazing summer, and I made a point to swim in the lake almost every day, scooting down to the beach on my UBCO bike. If you’ve been here before, then you know that Lake Hāwea is not a warm lake by any stretch of the imagination. It’s a bit colder than Lake Wānaka, but it’s crystal clear with grey pebbles and becomes deep straight away. It looks like the Caribbean but feels like Alaska.

Once you get over the initial shock, it feels great, especially on a super hot sunny day. Now that we’ve slipped into autumn and winter is quickly encroaching, I’ve become one of those crazy people who cold plunge (almost) daily. Once summer ends, so does the winds, and we have many more calm and still days where the lake is glassy without even a ripple. It’s beautiful to whip on down to the beach on my bike. 

It’s so beautiful, but also it’s so cold. Sitting between 9°C and 10°C (48-50°F), she’s fresh. Once I get over the initial shock and my ankle bones stop feeling like they’re shattering, it’s quite pleasant. I meditate and reflect on some things swirling in my head for a few minutes before getting out and zooming home. I love it.

ubco motorbike in New Zealand

ubco motorbike in New Zealand

So many of my friends live in Hāwea, and with our little corner shop, I find myself sticking around more and more. Forgetting my car and its painful fuel usage, now I bop around on my electric UBCO motorbike in New Zealand.

With a 120km charge range, it goes and goes – and it’s road legal too. The charge lasts about six hours and tops out at 50km per hour. It’s got about 19 lugs where you can attach gear; there are some great accessories you can add to it. Because it’s so light, you can actually pop it on a normal bike rack on your car’s tow bar (check the details first).

Because it’s an epic off-road bike with the bounciest suspension (technical specs expert right here), I’ve been exploring all of the back roads, pathways, and the occasional I-wonder-if-it-can-ride-over-this spot, and I haven’t crashed it yet! Such a fab and fun way to get around.

Now I’m venturing further afield and playing with her off-road too. I’m excited I finally have wheels that go off-road again.

ubco motorbike in New Zealand

ubco motorbike in New Zealand

There’s something so liberating about getting around in the open air this way. You feel more alive. I can easily say that this UBCO motorbike in New Zealand has been a real game-changer for me.

It’s so weird and fun to turn it on; it makes no sound. It doesn’t rev like a traditional bike. Also, it picks up speed much faster too. Every time I zoom out of my driveway, my heart beats a little faster at the excitement of it. And I feel safer knowing that it’s not as heavy as other bikes, and I can pretty much drive it anywhere. With its big rugged tires, it goes over everything.

Now I’m planning on how I can use my bike to get out deeper in the wild here. Where should I take her next?

Have you heard of the UBCO motorbike in New Zealand? Would you love adventuring on an electric motorbike too? Share!

ubco motorbike in New Zealand

Many thanks to UBCO for working with me – all opinions are my own – like you could expect less from me!

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