Buying a Prepaid SIM Card in New Zealand Guide

Logos of Telecom Providers in New Zealand: Spark, Vodafone NEw Zealand, 2degrees, Warehouse Mobile, Skinny Mobile, and Kogan Mobile

New Zealand is together with Australia and Fiji the most popular travel destination in Oceania. The country is much smaller than Australia, but it is much cozier.

New Zealand is also a popular destination for backpackers and those on a Working Holiday visa.

New Zealand is home to various mountains and volcanoes (some of them are still active). You can find crystal clear water in Milford Sound, which is a fiord on South Island. Auckland is another popular destination that is an actual port and has many Maori artifacts in museums.

Christchurch is full of gardens, and Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, has a fun red cable car that you must try. As you can see, New Zealand is a fun travel destination.

What may not be fun is getting a high bill from your operator because you decided to roam with your provider. Roaming can be expensive in many cases, which is why many travelers prefer to buy a local SIM card in New Zealand.

In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in New Zealand. Let's have a look, shall we?

Telecom Providers in New Zealand

New Zealand has 3 telecom providers: Spark, Vodafone New Zealand, and 2degrees. All operators have 3G and 4G/LTE networks. Vodafone New Zealand is the only operator that still has a 2G network.

The country has several Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) as well, which are Black+White, Warehouse Mobile, Slingshot, Skinny, Compass Mobile, and Kogan Mobile New Zealand. Only Skinny, Warehouse Mobile, and Kogan Mobile offer prepaid services, which is why they are the only MVNOs that will be discussed in this article.

What SIM card should you buy when visiting New Zealand? If you want to buy a SIM card in New Zealand, I would recommend going with Spark because they have the most extensive coverage in New Zealand. If you are staying in populated areas only, or like to customize your plan, then Vodafone could be an option because they are cheaper than Spark and have My Flex Prepaid, which allows you to set up your own plan in terms of data, minutes, and SMS.

Like most countries in Oceania, you do not have to show your passport when buying a Kiwi SIM card.

Do note that the MVNO Kogan Mobile does not sell its SIM cards in stores. Instead, you would need to order it online (like in Australia). Ask your ho(s)tel or Airbnb if they can hold the SIM card for you if you plan on ordering it. It can take a few days before you receive your Kogan Mobile SIM card, which would make it a bad choice if you are only staying in New Zealand for a few days and do not pre-order your SIM card.

Ordering a SIM card from Kogan Mobile can be worth it because they offer a lot of data for low rates.

4G/LTE can be found in many places throughout New Zealand with all operators, including rural areas.

With that said, let’s see what New Zealand has to offer to us.

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Spark

Spark Logo

Spark is the largest telecom provider in New Zealand. Spark also has the most extensive coverage in the country, which makes them a suitable operator for those who wish to drive through New Zealand, those who will go to rural New Zealand, or those who will go to South Island.

Do note that Spark does not have a 2G network anymore, meaning that older phones will not work with Spark. However, those with an old phone will most likely not use mobile data anyway because 2G is extremely slow for modern web browsing.

Spark SIM cards are sold in Spark stores, from authorized resellers, and in many other stores. Top-up vouchers are also sold in many stores, but you can also recharge online with a credit card. Spark also sells their SIM cards at Auckland International Airport and Christchurch International Airport.

Spark sells its basic starter SIM card for 5 NZD ($3.25). Besides that, you can also get one of the following 3 starter packs. All these perks are valid for 30 days. They also come with unlimited SMS and with 1 GB of Spark WIFI per day (so a max. of 30 GB on Spark WIFI monthly):

  • 19 NZD: 1.25 GB and 200 minutes
  • 29 NZD: 2 GB and 300 minutes
  • 49 NZD:  4 GB and 500 minutes

Activating Spark WIFI is easy. Simply connect to a Spark hotspot, and they will require you to sign in. They will send you a code to log-in to your phone. Once you have entered this code, you are signed in and you will not have to sign in again if you decide to connect to a different Spark hotspot.

If you decide to buy the 5 NZD Spark starter pack, then you would want to add a value pack or a data pack. The standard Pay As You Go data rate is 1 NZD for the first 10 MB, followed by 0.30 NZD for the remaining data usage, which is expensive.  

The following Spark value packs are available for purchase, which last for 28 days:

  • 19 NZD: 1.25 GB and 200 minutes. Activation: text BUY 19VPROLL to 258
  • 29 NZD: 2 GB, 2 GB social data, and 300 minutes. Activation: text BUY 29VPROLL to 258
  • 49 NZD: 4 GB, 2 GB, and 500 minutes. Activation: text BUY 49VPROLL to 258

The apps that count towards your social data are Facebook (Messenger), Spotify, and Twitter.

If you are not interested in calling or texting when in New Zealand, then you should consider Spark’s Data Lower Packs, which come with more data for “lower “prices. The Data Lower packs last for 28 days and are listed below:

  • 20 NZD: 1.5 GB and 1 GB of social data. Activation: text BUY 20DATALOVER to 258.
  • 40 NZD: 4.5 GB and 1 GB of social data. Activation: text BUY 20DATALOVER to 258.

If you do not care about social data, then you can get the following barebones Spark data packs that will last you 28 days:

  • 3 NZD: 100 MB. Activation: text BUY 5DATA to 258.
  • 15 NZD: 1 GB. Activation: text BUY 15DATA to 258.
  • 20 NZD: 2 GB. Activation: text BUY 20DATA to 258.

If you only want to use a handful of social apps, such as Facebook (Messenger), Spotify, and Twitter, then you can buy the Spark Social Package for 9 NZD that comes with 1 GB for the 4 apps. You have to text BUY 9SOCIAL to 258 to activate the social package.

Do note that all the plans I have listed above auto-renew. If you will leave New Zealand within 28 days and have only topped enough to buy a single package, then you do not have to worry about the auto-renewal.

If you are staying for a prolonged period and do not feel like having the same plan again, replace BUY with END to deactivate your data pack. For example, if I want to end the 20 NZD 2 GB data pack, I would text END 20DATA to 258.

To check your balance, text BAL to 333.

If you need to change your Spark APN settings manually, then you need to add the following under APN: “internet”.

Vodafone New Zealand

Vodafone Logo

Vodafone New Zealand, just Vodafone, is the second-largest telecom operator in New Zealand. Although Vodafone sold its brand to another company called Infratil in 2019, the Vodafone brand will remain intact.

Like Spark, Vodafone has an extensive network throughout the country, but their coverage is slightly worse than Spark.

My partner used Vodafone, their Travel SIM, when he was visiting New Zealand and had a good experience with it.

Vodafone sells 3 different starter packs. Vodafone Pay & Go, Vodafone My Flex Prepaid, and Vodafone NZ Travel SIM. The first two are sold for 2 NZD in various stores, including Vodafone stores, while the Travel SIM is sold at airports for at least 19 NZD.

The Vodafone My Flex Prepaid allows you to customize your plan to your liking. The plan will stay active for 28 days. You can add data, minutes, and SMS to your plan. The lowest amount of data is 250 MB and costs 13 NZD. The most you can get is 40 GB for 65 NZD. All plans come with 50 minutes and SMS included, but more can be added.

The whole set up may look intimidating at first, but it isnot. Let’s see the data allowances and the prices you will have to pay:

  • 13 NZD: 250 MB
  • 15 NZD: 500 MB
  • 16 NZD: 1.25 GB
  • 19 NZD: 1.5 GB
  • 20 NZD: 1.75 GB
  • 23 NZD: 2 GB
  • 28 NZD: 2.5 GB
  • 31 NZD: 4 GB
  • 38 NZD: 8 GB
  • 40 NZD: 10 GB
  • 55 NZD: 25 GB
  • 65 NZD: 40 GB

From here, you can add minutes to New Zealand (Kiwi) and Australian numbers:

  • 0 NZD: 50 minutes (included already)
  • 1 NZD: 200 minutes
  • 4 NZD: 300 minutes
  • 7 NZD: 400 minutes
  • 9 NZD: 500 minutes
  • 12 NZD: unlimited calls

Finally, you can add SMS:

  • 0 NZD: 50 SMS (included already)
  • 1 NZD: 500 SMS
  • 2 NZD: unlimited SMS

Let’s have an example. I want 4 GB of data, no minutes because I will not be calling anyone while traveling in New Zealand, and unlimited SMS because I like to text a lot. I would pay 31 NZD for 4 GB, 0 NZD extra for 50 minutes because they are already included, and 2 NZD for unlimited SMS, which totals to 33 NZD.

To play around with the customization settings, you have to go to the Vodafone website and select the perks you want for your plan. The same can be done on the My Vodafone app. Go to Plan & Add-ons and select Manage my plan. Once you are done, press Buy now if you want to activate the plan now or Save changes if you adjusted your plan for the upcoming renewal.

You do need to have enough credit on your account for any of these plans to work. You can top-up online on the Vodafone website, the Vodafone app (both the site and app accept international credit cards), or buy vouchers in many stores throughout the country.

To check your balance, text MYADDONS to 756.

You can also get the Vodafone NZ Travel SIM, which is sold at airports. Although more expensive than Vodafone My Flex Prepaid, the travel SIM is cheaper than the standard data plans and comes with international minutes and SMS.

Besides, the Travel SIM allows for unlimited data usage on Facebook, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Pinterest (the more expensive plans allow for unlimited data usage for more apps or all apps), which are referred to as social apps.

The following Vodafone NZ Travel SIM cards are sold:

  • 29 NZD: 1.5 GB, 200 minutes & SMS to Kiwi and select international numbers and unlimited data usage for Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Viber, all valid for 30 days.
  • 49 NZD: 5 GB, 200 minutes & SMS to Kiwi and select international numbers for 60 days. Unlimited data usage for all social apps for 30 days.
  • 59 NZD: 10 GB, unlimited calls & SMS to Kiwi numbers, and 200 minutes and SMS to select international destinations for 60 days. Unlimited data usage for all social apps for 30 days.
  • 99 NZD: 20 GB, unlimited calls & SMS to Kiwi numbers, and 200 minutes and SMS to select international destinations for 60 days. Unlimited data usage for all social apps for 30 days.

The select international destinations that are included in your plan are:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • China
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • The Netherlands *
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan *
  • Thailand *
  • United Kingdom (UK)
  • United States (USA)

The countries listed with an “*” are not available with the 19 NZD plan.

When you are out of data, data usage will be shut off. You can buy 1 GB extra for 20 NZD, which is not worth it. But if you do want extra data, text BUY EXTRADATA to 756. Other data packs are available too, which will be listed in the next section.

The Vodafone Pay & Go is the base plan that comes without any allowance. This is actually the worst option because the data packs are so expensive compared to the other plans, including the plans for the Tourist SIM. The following add-on data packs can be added when you are out of data:

  • 3 NZD: 300 MB for 1 day
  • 6 NZD: 300 MB for 7 days
  • 12 NZD: 500 MB for 30 days
  • 20 NZD: 1 GB for 30 days
  • 45 NZD: 2.5 GB for 30 days

These packs can be added through the Vodafone website or the My Vodafone app.

You can also buy the data-only SIM card that is marketed for tablets and routers, but you can use it for your phone too. The data-only SIM card is sold for 5 NZD (although these data plans are expensive for phones, they may be worth it for tablets). The following plans are available:

  • 20 NZD: 500 MB for 30 days
  • 30 NZD: 1 GB for 30 days
  • 50 NZD: 3 GB for 3 months
  • 80 NZD: 5 GB for 6 months

Finally, we have the Vodafone passes, which are the Social Pass, the Chat Pass, the Music Pass, and the Video Pass. They come with unlimited data usage for select apps.

The Vodafone Social pass comes with unlimited data usage for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Twitter. They are sold for the following prices:

  • 2 NZD: 2 days
  • 5 NZD: 7 days
  • 10 NZD: 28 days

The Vodafone Chat Pass can be used for unlimited Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Viber for the following prices and length:

  • 1 NZD: 2 days
  • 2 NZD: 7 days
  • 5 NZD: 28 days

Then you have the Vodafone Music Pass for unlimited Spotify, Apple Music, iHeartRadio, Rova, Tidal, and SoundCloud:

  • 2 NZD: 2 days
  • 5 NZD: 7 days
  • 10 NZD: 28 days

Finally, we have the Video Pass for unlimited Netflix, Sky Go, Neon, Vodafone TV, Vevo, TVNZ OnDemand (unfortunately, no YouTube):

  • 5 NZD: 2 days
  • 10 NZD: 7 days
  • 20 NZD: 28 days

You can buy any of these passes on the My Vodafone App. Click on the data allowance circle, press Plan & Add-Ons, go down to Passes, choose the pass you want, and press Buy.

2degrees

2degrees Logo

2degrees (2°) is the smallest operator in New Zealand. It also has the “worst” coverage, especially in rural New Zealand on South Island. 2degrees customers can roam on the Vodafone network (3G) because of 2degrees’ roaming agreement with Vodafone. Their 4G/LTE network is not as great as the other two providers, but you will be fine in the bigger cities, many towns, and in the rural areas on North Island.

2degrees has no 2G network as of March 2018, which should not be a big concern if you were planning on using data (because 2G is too slow for modern web browsing), but that also means that your phone cannot fall back to 2G when there is no 3G or 4G/LTE around (which can affect calls and SMS). Luckily, compatible devices can use the WIFI calling feature. All WIFI calls will be charged at local rates, even if you are abroad.

2degrees SIM cards are sold in 2degrees stores for 5 NZD and in many supermarkets for 2 NZD (I would recommend finding your SIM card in a supermarket). You can also get the 19 NZD Combo Pack SIM in select stores. The combo pack gives you 1.25 GB and 200 minutes (to both Kiwi and Australian numbers) for 1 month. Recharge vouchers are sold in many stores, and you can top up online with a credit card.

The following monthly 2degrees data packs can be added:

  • 10 NZD: 500 MB. Activation: text BUY 500MB to 233
  • 20 NZD: 1 GB. Activation: text BUY 1GB to 233
  • 50 NZD: 15 GB. Activation: text BUY 15GB to 233
  • 99 NZD: 12 GB (for 6 months). Activation: text BUY ZONE 12GB to 233

The 99 NZD plan can only be used in Zone areas (which does not include areas covered by Vodafone.

All plans auto-renew. If you do not want to auto-renew your plan, replace BUY with STOP. For example, instead of BUY 15GB, I would text STOP 15GB to 233.

You can also get a 2degrees combo pack that includes minutes to Kiwi and Australian numbers and unlimited SMS. A combo pack can be activated by texting the activation code to 233. The following combo packs are available:

  • 10 NZD: 650 MB and 100 minutes for 14 days. Activation: text BUY 10plan14D
  • 10 NZD: 250 MB and 100 minutes for 1 month. Activation: text BUY 10plan1M
  • 15 NZD: 1.25 GB and 150 minutes for 14 days. Activation: text BUY 15plan14D
  • 19 NZD: 1.25 GB and 200 minutes for 1 month. Activation: text BUY 19plan1M
  • 20 NZD: 2 GB and unlimited calls for 14 days. Activation: text BUY 20plan14D
  • 30 NZD: 2.5 GB and 300 minutes for 1 month. Activation: text BUY 30plan1M
  • 40 NZD: 4 GB and unlimited calls for 1 month. Activation: text BUY 40plan1M
  • 55 NZD: 10 GB and unlimited calls for 1 month. Activation: text BUY 55plan1M
  • 70 NZD: 25 GB and unlimited calls for 1 month. Activation: text BUY 70plan1M
  • 85 NZD: 40 GB and unlimited calls for 1 month. Activation: text BUY 85plan1M

The 85 NZD plan is an unlimited data plan. After using 40 GB, your speed will be reduced to 1 Mbps for the remainder of the plan. 1 Mbps is slow, but you can still browse the web decently compared to 2G speeds.

Just like the regular data packs, combo packs auto-renew. Replace BUY with STOP to stop the auto-renewal. For example, if I want to stop the 20 NZD combo pack, I would text STOP 20plan14D to 233.

Also, if you have any minutes or data left when the plan renews, the allowance will roll-over to the new month. As most travelers do not stay in New Zealand for more than a month, you probably will not be taking advantage of this perk, but it is good to know.

Skinny Mobile

Skinny Mobile Logo

Skinny Mobile is an MVNO that is owned by Spark. Spark started Skinny Mobile to compete with 2degrees because 2degrees is cheaper than Spark themselves. You can order your Skinny Mobile SIM card online to be delivered to your address in New Zealand or buy it in various stores, such as The Warehouse, JB HiFi, and Paper Plus.

A Skinny Mobile SIM card costs 2 NZD and comes with no credit. Recharge cards are sold in many stores throughout New Zealand. You can also top up online with a credit card.

The following Skinny combo plans are available. Minutes and SMS can be used to call and Australian and Kiwi (NZ) numbers unless stated otherwise. For example, if I only state “(NZ)”., then the minutes and SMS can only be used to calling or texting Kiwi numbers.

  • 5 NZD: 100 MB, 60 minutes (NZ), and 750 SMS (NZ) for a week
  • 9 NZD: 250 MB, 100 minutes, and unlimited SMS for 28 days
  • 16 NZD: 1.25 GB, 200 minutes, and unlimited SMS for 28 days (with roll-over)
  • 26 NZD: 2.5 GB, 300 minutes, and unlimited SMS for 28 days (with roll-over)
  • 36 NZD: 4.5 GB and unlimited calls and SMS for 28 days (with roll-over)
  • 46 NZD: 12 GB and unlimited calls and SMS for 28 days (with roll-over)
  • 66 NZD: 30 GB and unlimited calls and SMS for 28 days (with roll-over)
  • 77 NZD: 40 GB, reduced to 1 Mbps after full consumption, and unlimited calls and SMS for 28 days

The combos can be activated (and deactivated) online, and they auto-renew.

If you are out of data, then you can add one of the data add-ons:

  • 4 NZD: 200 MB for 7 days
  • 8 NZD: 600 MB for 7 days
  • 10 NZD: 500 MB for 28 days (not for 5 NZD plan)
  • 15 NZD: 1 GB for 28 days (not for 5 NZD and 9 NZD plans)
  • 25 NZD: 2 GB for 28 days (not for 5 NZD and 9 NZD plans)

Just like the combos, the add-ons auto-renew if your combo pack auto-renews.

You can also get the Skinny Mobile NZ Holiday SIM card, which is aimed for travelers. It is sold in the Hub Convenience at Christchurch Airport and Paper Plus in Queenstown Airport. The SIM card comes in two variants:

  • 26 NZD: 1.5 GB, 100 minutes and 200 SMS to NZ & AU numbers, and 100 international minutes for 14 days
  • 46 NZD: 3 GB, 200 minutes & SMS to NZ & AU numbers, and 200 international minutes for 60 days

The international destinations are:

  • Bangladesh
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • China
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • Ireland
  • India
  • Italy
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Malaysia
  • The Netherlands
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Thailand
  • United Kingdom (UK)
  • United States (USA)

Warehouse Mobile

Warehouse Mobile Logo

Warehouse Mobile is an MVNO that uses the 2degrees network. Warehouse Mobile SIM cards are only sold in Warehouse stores for 1 NZD that comes with 5 NZD in credit. You can also order it online and get it sent to your address in New Zealand. Once you have your SIM card, you have to dial 800 to activate it (follow the instructions given by the robot).

Recharge cards are sold from 5 NZD, but you can also top up online (with Visa cards only, unless you have a Kiwi credit card, then you can use MasterCard too). The following data packs, which are called Pick’n’go, are available for 31 days:

  • 4 NZD: 500 MB. Activation: text Buy 4Data to 801
  • 8 NZD: 1.4 GB. Activation: text Buy 8Data to 801
  • 30 NZD: 4 GB. Activation: text Buy 30Data to 801

Unused data will roll over for up to 90 days.

Kogan Mobile New Zealand

Kogan Mobile Logo

Kogan Mobile New Zealand, just Kogan Mobile, is an MVNO using the Vodafone network. Kogan Mobile SIM cards have to be ordered online, which is why they are listed last. It is recommended that you pre-order your SIM card, as it can take a few days before you receive it in the mail.

All of Kogan Mobile’s plans include unlimited calls and SMS to New Zealand and Australia. All plans are to be bought on the Kogan website. Upon purchase, you get a voucher in your mailbox (email).

The Kogan Mobile plans are sold for 30, 90, and 365 days. The following monthly plans are available:

  • 18 NZD: 1.5 GB
  • 34 NZD: 4 GB
  • 57 NZD: 15 GB (often sold for 5 NZD during promotions)
  • 70 NZD: 32 NZD

The following plans are available for 90 days. Prices are advertised per 30 days, but you pay 90 days in advance:

  • 50.70 NZD (17 NZD/month): 4.5 GB (1.5 GB/month)
  • 91.50 NZD (30.50 NZD/month): 12 GB (4 GB/month)
  • 153.60 NZD (51.20 NZD/month): 45 GB (15 GB/month)
  • 188.70 NZD (63 NZD/month): 96 GB (32 GB/month)

Finally, you have the yearly plans, which are interesting for those staying in New Zealand for a year (like backpackers or those on a New Zealand Working Holiday):

  • 181.30 NZD (14.90 NZD/month): 18 GB (1.5 GB/month)
  • 343.10 NZD (28.20 NZD/month): 48 GB (4 GB/month)
  • 575.50 NZD (47.30 NZD/month): 180 GB (15 GB/month)
  • 708.10 NZD (58.20 NZD/month): 384 GB (32 GB/month)

Do note that if you are out of data with the 3-month or yearly plans, you will not be able to use data until your plan “renews” or replenishes. If you want more data, you would either need to wait until the plan replenishes (every 30 days) or buy a new data plan. You can, unfortunately, not get the data for the upcoming month earlier.

Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in New Zealand

I have discussed the relevant providers in New Zealand in this article because using a Kiwi SIM card would be much cheaper than roaming with your provider… in most cases. However, buying a local SIM card is not the only way to stay connected in New Zealand. You can buy an international SIM card, use a mobile hotspot, or use free WIFI connections. Below, I will discuss the alternative options to use your phone in New Zealand.

Roaming in New Zealand with Your Provider

Roaming is a term used in wireless telecommunication that indicates a mobile device is outside the range of its home network and has connected to a different, available cell network. Let’s say your provider is CNT from Ecuador, then you would be roaming with CNT in New Zealand.

The issue with roaming is that it can be expensive. There have been many horror stories where people had to pay thousands in roaming fees when coming back from their holidays, which is just a shame, in my opinion. However, roaming does not always have to be expensive, especially when visiting a neighboring country.

Many providers offer roaming plans. Some allow you to roam for free in New Zealand, while others would offer you a roaming bundle with a set number of minutes, SMS, and data. Finally, several operators let you use your plan’s allowance for a daily fee.

As you can see, there are many options out there, so be sure to explore the roaming options your provider has. Conveniently for you, I have reviewed the roaming options of many providers (and many more to come) and discussed everything you need to know about roaming with your provider. If you are lucky, you may not even have to buy a SIM card in New Zealand and can roam for free there.

No idea how roaming works? I made this comprehensive guide about what roaming is and how it works. It is worth the read – promised!

One thing I would not recommend doing is to Roam As You Go. Just like prepaid cards where you can buy bundles or Pay As You Go (as in, charged per minute, SMS, or MB), Roaming As You Go can be insanely expensive (that is how people get expensive roaming bills). So far, there are a handful of providers I have reviewed that offer affordable Roam As You Go rates. But generally, avoid it. Get a roaming plan if you can or buy a SIM in New Zealand.

Using an International SIM Card in New Zealand

International SIM cards are cards that have been made for travelers so that they do not have to deal with roaming costs.

The number of international SIM card providers is too many to count, but international SIM cards give you the same convenience as roaming with your provider. A few providers I know are OneSimCard, SimOptions, Surfroam, BNESIM, and SimCorner.

They allow people to call you at one number instead of five in case you are exploring multiple countries in one trip. Moreover, you do not have to deal with multiple SIM cards you will never use again. In short, international SIM cards have been made for the international traveler in mind.

Although this sounds fabulous, international SIM cards are much more expensive than local SIM cards in New Zealand. Some international SIM card providers charge ridiculous fees (sometimes, even more than roaming with your provider), while others offer awful service. It is, therefore, important to go with a reputable company so that you do not have to deal with surprised when traveling around the world.

On the other hand, international SIM cards are appealing to those who travel frequently or are visiting multiple destinations in one trip. Some countries in Oceania require you to register before you can use a SIM card, which can be a hassle for some. Additionally, the language barrier may be off-putting to some travelers, which is why an international SIM card can be handy. You order it before you depart and can use it in various destinations.

My recommendation, however, is to get a local SIM card if you are only visiting one destination. If you are visiting multiple ones, an international SIM card could be handy. If you want to learn more about international SIM cards, check out my international SIM card comparison article, where I analyze 10 international SIM card providers so that you do not have to.

Using Portable Hotspots (Pocket WIFI) in New Zealand

Portable hotspots, also referred to mobile hotspots or pocket WIFI, are routers small enough to bring with you everywhere you go. They are portable, battery-powered wireless routers that allow you to connect your phone, laptop, or tablet without needing multiple SIM cards for those devices to be connected to the internet. They are compact and lightweight so that you take them along with you whenever you need internet access on the go.

Just like with the number of international SIM card providers, there are so many mobile hotspots out there that it is challenging to keep track of them all. Skyroam and Vision Global Wireless are reputable pocket WIFI providers. You can get a discount if you rent a router through Skyroam by using coupon code PHONETRAVELWIZ. Cellular access with Skyroam starts at $8 a day while using a Vision Global device starts at $2 a day. Both services cover more than 130 destinations around the world.

The first time I used a portable hotspot was when I was in Bangkok, Thailand, with my dad. He uses the Dutch telecom provider called KPN, which does not let you roam for free in Thailand. I was with 3 Denmark (3 Danmark), which also did not allow me to roam for free. The router was offered for free by our Airbnb host. Let me tell you how convenient that thing was!

I do not remember the exact brand router we used, but we could connect our phones to it, explore Bangkok, and upload highlights of our trip on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and WhatsApp without the need of connecting to unsecure and slow connections in Thailand.

That is why I often recommend those who are traveling in groups or with families to consider getting a pocket WIFI device so that each individual does not need to buy a local SIM card and data packages. In some countries, the cost of getting a local SIM card or packages is so low that it is not even worth getting a mobile hotspot. In others, it could save you money.

I recently wrote an article analyzing the 7 Best Mobile Hotspots for Travelers like yourself, which should be an interesting read if pocket WIFI is something you are considering. I do reviews of individual devices every now and then, so check out my mobile hotspot category to stay up to date.

Connecting to Free WIFI Networks in New Zealand

Finally, we have the most cost-effective way to stay connected in New Zealand which is using free WIFI networks.

Using WIFI networks should not cost you any money (unless you are connecting to premium hotspots), which is why it is a popular option for travelers. Go to a local café, buy a coffee, connect to their WIFI, and post your pictures to Facebook or Instagram. Straightforward, right? Well, let’s see if that is indeed the case.

First, you need to find hotspots. In some regions, they are readily available. In others, you cannot find any, require you to give your personal details (for commercial purposes), are restricted for those who are a subscriber of an operator’s, or are so slow that you wished you never connected to them.

In the case of New Zealand, you will find so many free hotspots that it may bother you. Of course, some of them are of high quality, while some are extremely slow.

Public WIFI hotspots are unsecure. They are a prime target for hackers to steal your data and use it for illicit purposes. That is I use, and would recommend you to start using, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) if you connect to a public hotspot. What a VPN does is creating an encrypted tunnel between your device and the hotspot so that your data will stay private. I use NordVPN, and you can get up to 70% off when you get a NordVPN subscription. Get your subscription now!

The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in New Zealand

Getting a SIM card from Spark would do you well when considering a Kiwi SIM card. Be sure to explore the roaming options your provider offers you, as they may offer free or cheap roaming bundles.

You could also consider getting an international SIM card or using a portable hotspot. International SIM cards are attractive for those visiting multiple destinations at once or within a year. Portable hotspots will be useful when traveling with multiple people so that not each individual has to get a SIM card but can use the hotspot.

Visiting other countries in Oceania? Check out my Oceanian SIM card buying guide covering the other Oceanian destinations, such as American Samoa, Australia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Micronesia, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna. Going to other places around the world? Then you should also check out my sim card buying guides for other destinations around the world.

What is next?

Looking for the best companies and gadgets to enhance your travel experience? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! Save money on plane tickets, bus rides, cruises, and accommodation. Besides that, I also list services and items I use to make my life easier – and I believe they will help you too!

Book Your Flight for New Zealand

It is time to book your flight. Find cheap flights with AirWander so that you can add free or cheap stopovers in destinations you have not considered yet before going to New Zealand. If you are not ready to take off yet, set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog, and they will notify you once ticket prices to New Zealand drop.

Book Your Accommodation for New Zealand

I am a huge fan of Airbnb because it allows me to live with a local or get a local place for myself. Staying in someone’s house or apartment feels much different than being in a ho(s)tel, especially in New Zealand. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in a Kiwi hotel.

Get Your Travel Insurance for New Zealand

You will regret not having travel insurance once you actually need it and “forgot” to get it. Nowadays, travel insurance is cheap and comprehensive unlike back in the days. World Nomads is by far the best travel insurance for adventurous travelers like yourself. You can even get insured WHILE already traveling in New Zealand, which is not something many insurance companies allow you to do.

Get a Travel Debit Card

Travel Cheques are outdated. Paying with your credit card or debit card can be expensive because of all the exchange commissions banks charge you. TransferWise allows you to convert your main currency to New Zealand Dollars for a small fee (up to 8 times less than with your bank!) Getting a Transferwise Borderless account is FREE, so you will get an instant return on your investment.

Enjoy your trip!

Ernest Adu

Ernest Adu, going by just Adu, is the founder and editor at Phone Travel Wiz. He has been a traveler for 6 years. Although from Europe, the Netherlands, Adu's favorite region in Asia, in particular, East and Southeast Asia. He currently lives in Tainan, Taiwan, and plans on exploring Oceania and more of East and Southeast Asia.

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