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Spark New Zealand Review: Big But Not Special (+5G Speedtests)

There are not many places, let alone countries, that I consider to be magical.

But New Zealand might be the exception – it is a magical country.

And it is hard to explain the feeling to someone who never visited it (and I could not understand what people were talking about when they tried explaining it to me).

Just like Australia, which is my hub for 2022, New Zealand had strict border restrictions.

Luckily, they were all lifted in October 2022.

This was an excellent opportunity for me to visit New Zealand because all the mobile operators, including Spark, have been rolling out their 5G NR network during COVID times.

And you know I have to try out 5G NR networks when they are available to prepaid customers (as they are with Spark!).

When I was in New Zealand, I tested five New Zealand SIM cards, including Spark, four travel eSIMs & one travel SIM card to be used here.

I went to three cities (or two if you do not consider Lower Hutt to be an independent city… even though it has its own council) on North Island (worry not, I will do tests on South Island in 2023 or 2024).

I did more than 35 speed tests with each SIM card and (travel) (e)SIM (card) – going to tourist attractions and off the beaten track so that you can have a solid idea of how each SIM card or eSIM performs depending on your style of travel.

So I spent about 500 NZD for my New Zealand SIM card review series – yeah, I am crazy 🤪.

Adu from Phone Travel Wiz's collection of New Zealand SIM Cards (Spark, One-Vodafone, 2degrees, Skinny Mobile & Warehouse Mobile1)
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But I have to tell you that New Zealand is expensive in terms of data.

In Oceania, only Tokelau, Tuvalu & the Solomon Islands have a higher cost of data rates – and those are all very remote (small) island nations.

Australia, the largest country in Oceania, has the second-lowest rates (behind Fiji) – and all the locals complain data is expensive (I do not blame them… they do not know better 🤪).

Spark is the largest and oldest mobile operator in New Zealand (which was known as Telecom a very long time ago).

But as I always say, the largest does not automatically equal the best.

Is that the case in New Zealand?

Spark New Zealand SIM Cards Held by Adu from Phone Travel Wiz

I can only make such a conclusion by (extensively) testing Spark against its competition.

And in the case of New Zealand, that would be One NZ (formerly Vodafone) and 2degrees, but also two Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) called Skinny Mobile (Spark MVNO) and Warehouse Mobile (2degrees MVNO).

Spark, One-Vodafone, 2degrees, Skinny Mobile & Warehouse Mobile SIM Cards Held by Adu from Phone Travel Wiz

And as (travel) (e)SIM (cards) are also becoming rapidly popular, I also tried out Airalo (Nzcom – can be used in New Zealand only & Discover Global – can be used in 85+ countries), Holafly & Nomad + Orange Holiday World (from Holiday SIM Card)

Yeah… I went all out! But in this review, I will mostly focus on Spark.

Let's get started, shall we?

Spark New Zealand Review by Phone Travel Wiz

Original publication: 14th of December 2022. Last updated: 18th of February 2023.


Table of Contents

Who is Spark?

Spark New Zealand Logo
© Spark New Zealand

Spark New Zealand (NZ), just Spark, is the largest mobile network operator in New Zealand.

It is also the oldest mobile operator in the country.

However, One NZ (formerly Vodafone) is the largest in some quarters, so the competition between the two is fierce.

In New Zealand, you have three mobile operators and two Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) offering prepaid services easily accessible to travelers:

  • Spark New Zealand
  • One NZ (formerly Vodafone New Zealand)
  • 2degrees New Zealand
  • Skinny Mobile
  • Warehouse Mobile

As you know, I tested the other two mobile operators + the two MVNOs during my stay in New Zealand. You can read them here: One NZ (formerly Vodafone) & 2degrees + Skinny Mobile & Warehouse Mobile.

Buying a SIM Card in New Zealand Guide (logos of One NZ, Spark, Warehouse Mobile, Skinny Mobile & 2degrees)

Let's talk about Spark's coverage first, after these quick frequency details:

  • 2G: shut down since 2012
  • 3G: 850 MHz
  • 4G/LTE: 700 MHz (Band 28), 1800 MHz (Band 3), 2100 MHz (Band 1), 2300 MHz (Band 40) & 2600 MHz (Band 7)
  • 5G NR: 2100 MHz (n1) & 3500 MHz/3600 MHz (n78)
  • VoLTE: Yes
  • VoWiFi: No

Here you have Spark's APN settings:

  • Name: Spark Data
  • APN: internet

Note: leave anything not mentioned above untouched.

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Spark Coverage + My Experience

You can have a mobile operator providing you 1 Gbps download speeds.

But it will be useless if it covers only one street in New Zealand.

So, how is Spark's coverage?

Regarding general availability, Spark has the best availability, with an availability score of 99.2%. Ahead of 2degrees (98.7%) and One NZ (formerly Vodafone – 98.2%).

But with a score of more than 98%, all New Zealand mobile operators have excellent availability anyway.

When looking at 5G NR availability, Spark has the worst availability (5.3%). Behind One NZ (5.8%) and 2degrees (6.2%).

Compared to most western nations, New Zealand started rather late with its 5G NR rollout, which is why the scores are so low.

So far, I have been talking about coverage from other reports, but what was my coverage experience with Spark?

It was excellent, honestly – I had nothing to complain about.

5G NR was widely available in Auckland and Wellington, but not in Lower Hutt/Hutt City.

And unlike Australia, where Telstra and Optus have 5G NR reception basically anywhere in the big cities, not all of Auckland and Wellington CBD was covered by Spark's 5G NR network.

But reception was still alright when on the road and on trains (although you should not expect reception when passing tunnels, like on the Johnsonville Line in Wellington – great views on this though!).

Below is Spark's coverage map produced by Speedtest:

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How to Get a Spark SIM Card (or eSIM) & Prices

Now that you have a basic understanding of Spark and the telecom market in New Zealand, it is now time to talk about how to actually get a Spark SIM card.

Unlike most countries in Oceania, I do not recommend visiting a Spark store to get a Spark SIM card.

Spark New Zealand Store in Auckland Queen Street

Well, it is not that I discourage it; it is just not required.

That is because New Zealand does not have a SIM card registration scheme, unlike most Oceanian countries.

  • Find out which countries have SIM card registration regulations and what is required from you (lookup tool)
SIM Card Registration Worldwide Tool by Phone Travel Wiz

That means you can pick up a SIM card from a reseller, like Countdown, New World & PAK'nSAVE, and it will be good to go without having to show your passport in person or register it online.

JB HiFi New Zealand in Auckland Selling Spark, One-Vodafone & Skinny Mobile SIM Cards

I got my Spark SIM card at Auckland Airport (AKL).

Together with Christchurch International Airport (CHC), these are the only airports selling Spark SIM cards.

And as expected, only Spark tourist SIM cards are sold at airports, called the Spark NZ Travel Packs.

Spark New Zealand Travel Pack Booklet

There are actually two places where you can get Spark NZ Travel Packs at Auckland Airport: before passing immigration and customs in the duty-free area and in the arrivals hall.

If you buy your Spark NZ Travel in the duty-free area, the price is a bit cheaper because you will not be charged GST (15% in New Zealand).

Spark New Zealand Booth at Auckland Airport in the duty-free area

For example, I got the 79 NZD pack and only paid 68 NZD.

Spark New Zealand Travel Pack Starter Pack Front

I will list all the prices in NZD (New Zealand Dollar).

To convert NZD to your currency (let's say AUD – Australian Dollar) with up-to-date exchange rates, use the Wise Currency Converter tool.

I got my One NZ (formerly Vodafone) SIM card at the arrivals hall and paid the advertised 69 NZD for it, so be aware.

Spark and One-Vodafone New Zealand Stores in Auckland Airport in the arrivals hall of the international terminal

Disclaimer: the SIM card prices mentioned in the review were current when I was in New Zealand – the offering and prices may have changed since then. To see Spark's current starter packs, check out my New Zealand SIM card buying guide

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Anyway, the following four (previously five) Spark travel/tourist SIM cards are available:

Price 1DataLocal MinutesInternational Minutes 2Local SMSInternational SMS 2Validity
29 NZD2 GB200 minutes100 minutes200 SMS100 SMS3 months
49 NZD10 GB200 minutes200 minutes200 SMS200 SMS3 months
79 NZD50 GBUnlimited200 minutesUnlimited200 SMS3 months
129 NZD“Unlimited”, 100 GB 3Unlimited300 minutesUnlimited300 SMS3 months

1 you will be charged 25 NZD, 42 NZD, 68 NZD, or 112 NZD, respectively, if you buy your Spark Travel Pack in the duty-free area of Auckland Airport (AKL) or Christchurch International Airport (CHC)
2 to Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, the United Kingdom & the United States
3 100 GB high-speed data, then unlimited @ 1.2 Mbps (slow)

Spark New Zealand Auckland Airport Store showing the Travel Packs

Do note that Spark Travel SIM cards cannot be renewed.

However, if you wish to keep your phone number after three months (validity of each Spark Travel SIM card) or replenish your data, call, or text allowance, you can get a regular Spark prepaid plan.

And all these tourist SIM cards allow for 5G NR access – free of charge.

Spark New Zealand Travel Packs shown in a booklet

Initially, these Spark NZ Travel Packs look expensive… which they kind of are.

However, all plans are valid for three months, which somewhat explains the high prices.

Even if you do not plan on staying for three months in New Zealand, I would still recommend these Spark Travel Packs.

And that is something unusual for me to say – let me explain.

Spark New Zealand Travel Pack SIM Card in Starter Pack

Prepaid data-featured plans are expensive in New Zealand, unfortunately.

But the thing is, Spark's tourist offerings are somehow cheaper than its regular plans.

Spark's most expensive data-featured plan costs 80 NZD, giving you 40 GB of high-speed data before throttling your speed to 1.2 Mbps while giving you unlimited data valid for 28 days.

For 68 NZD or 79 NZD, depending on if you buy your Spark NZ Travel Pack in the duty-free area, you get 50 GB of high-speed data for three months instead.

Spark New Zealand Prepay Plans Show in a booklet

Let's say you do not need that much data? No problem. Let's take 4.5 GB of data.

Spark's Data Lovers plan, a data-only plan, gives you 4.5 GB of data and 1 GB of data for Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Spotify & Twitter, valid for 28 days, costing 40 NZD.

For a bit more, 42 NZD or 49 NZD, you can get 10 GB of data, 200 local/international minutes & 200 local/international minutes for 3 months instead.

Spark New Zealand Prepaid Booklet

It is unusual for the tourist-focused plans to be more affordable than regular prepaid plans… but Spark (and New Zealand) is built differently, I guess 🗿.

Now, let's say you do not want any tourist SIM card for some reason and want a regular Spark SIM card – what are your options?

Spark New Zealand Travel Pack and Regular SIM Cards

At Auckland and Christchurch Airports, none – you would have to go to the city.

In the case of Auckland, if you do not mind walking for about 15 to 20 minutes or taking bus 38 (towards Onehunga and getting off at stop New Zealand School of Tourism and then walking for about five minutes), you can go to the Auckland Airport Shopping Center.

Countdown New Zealand Store in Auckland Airport Shopping Center

They have Countdown, one of the leading New Zealand supermarkets, and The Warehouse, a department store selling regular Spark SIM cards.

The Warehouse New Zealand Store in Auckland Airport Shopping Center

Spark SIM cards are sold for 5 NZD and include no credit (which is the standard in New Zealand… although The Warehouse has Warehouse Mobile for 1 NZD giving you 5 NZD credit instead. But it uses the 2degrees 4G/LTE network).

The Warehouse New Zealand in Auckland Airport Selling Spark, One-Vodafone, 2degrees & Warehouse Mobile SIM cards

If you believe that is too much effort and you go to Auckland CBD by train (via bus to Puhinui Station), worry not – there is a Spark store across Britomart Station (basically Auckland's central station) called Spark Commercial Bay and one on Queen Street (the main shopping strip in Auckland).

Spark New Zealand Store in Auckland

And you can also get Spark SIM cards from electronic stores (JB HiFi & PB Tech), gas stations (BP, Caltex & Z) & grocery stores (Countdown, New World & PAK'nSAVE).

Spark New Zealand Starter Pack

Okay, that is enough talk about SIM cards – what about the new and sexy eSIM technology?

Spark does have eSIMs, and they are also available to prepaid customers.

However… not all stores are aware of this (I asked multiple in Auckland and Wellington about this).

In fact, only the Spark airport store (the one in the arrivals hall and not the one in the duty-free area) knows and sells eSIMs to you and me.

Spark New Zealand eSIM Availability Sticker at the Spark Booth at Auckland Airport

The lovely lady at the Spark airport store told me that some stores are lazy and cannot be bothered with eSIM, which may be why they all told me they do not have them for prepaid customers (they would rather want you request one yourself online).

So yeah… you may have to insist, lol.

Spark New Zealand Store in Westfield Mall in Auckland

Getting a Spark eSIM does not cost anything extra.

So if you get it together with your Spark NZ Travel pack or a prepaid plan in a Spark store, you do not pay more for it.

The same applies when you switch from a SIM card to an eSIM.

Spark New Zealand Travel Pack SIM Card Front

Remember when I said that mobile data is expensive in New Zealand – also with Spark?

There is a way to spend less for data if your phone supports eSIM – by getting a travel eSIM.

If you do not care about calling or texting, getting a travel eSIM from Airalo, Holafly, or Nomad can (read: will) be much cheaper than getting a Spark NZ Travel Pack or a data-featured prepaid plan.

Using any of these eSIMs will be cheaper than getting a Spark SIM card and a data-featured plan if you want more than 4 GB of data. Anything less than 4 GB and the local SIM cards will be more affordable.

The links above will get you to my in-depth reviews of those eSIMs.

But if you want a quick comparison of the travel eSIMs I recommend for New Zealand, you should read my New Zealand eSIM comparison guide – I also drop a few discount codes for you 😏.

Buying an eSIM for New Zealand Guide (Airalo, Holafly, Simcorner, Spark, 2 & NZCOM)
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Spark Plans, Bundles & Offers

Spark has three data-featured prepaid plans:

  • Prepaid Value Packs (combo)
  • Data Lovers (data)
  • Data Extras (data add-on)

All Spark plans can be activated on the Spark NZ app.

Disclaimer: these were the available plans at the time I was in New Zealand – the offering may have changed since then (including whether 5G NR is available to prepaid customers or not). To see Spark's current plans, check out my New Zealand SIM card buying guide (which gets updated regularly – at least four times a year).

I will list all the prices in NZD (New Zealand Dollar).

To convert NZD to your currency (let's say AUD – Australian Dollar) with up-to-date exchange rates, use the Wise Currency Converter tool.

Wise Signup Banner

Prepaid Value Packs

The Prepaid Value Packs are combo plans with data (with 5G NR access), minutes & SMS.

Prepaid Value Packs can be activated on the Spark NZ app:

PriceDataSocial Media Data 2Local MinutesLocal SMSValidity
20 NZD1.25 GBN/A200 minutesUnlimited28 days
30 NZD2 GB2 GB300 minutesUnlimited28 days
50 NZD4 GB2 GB500 minutesUnlimited 328 days
80 NZD“Unlimited”, 40 GB 1N/AUnlimited 3Unlimited 328 days

1 40 GB high-speed data, then unlimited @ 1.2 Mbps (slow)
2 for Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Spotify & Twitter
3 also to Australia

Spark New Zealand Prepay Plans Show in a booklet

Unused data and minutes will roll over when your plan auto-renews or when you renew your plan before it expires.

However, you can only carry over a total of 3.5 GB and 500 minutes.

And data and calls in your carryover balance can roll over for up to 365 days.

Spark New Zealand Prepaid Value Packs

Data Lovers

The Data Lovers are data plans (with 5G NR access).

Data Lovers can be activated by texting the Activation Code to 258.

PriceDataSocial Media Data 1ValidityActivation Code
20 NZD1.5 GB1 GB28 daysBUY 20DATAROLLL
40 NZD4.5 GB1 GB28 daysBUY 40DATAROLLL

1 for Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Spotify & Twitter

Unused data will roll over when your plan auto-renews or when you renew your plan before it expires.

However, you can only carry over a total of 3.5 GB.

And data in your carryover balance can roll over for up to 365 days.

Spark New Zealand Prepaid Data Lovers

Data Extras

The Data Extras are data add-ons. They cannot be purchased as standalone plans.

Data Extras can be activated by texting the Activation Code to 258.

PriceDataValidityActivation Code
5 NZD100 MB28 daysBUY 5DATA
6 NZDUnlimited4 hoursApp only
9 NZD1 GB 128 daysBUY 9SOCIAL
10 NZDUnlimited24 hoursApp only
20 NZD1 GB28 daysBUY 20DATA
23 NZD2 GB28 daysBUY 23DATA

1 for Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Spotify & Twitter only

Spark New Zealand Booklet About Data Extras
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Spark Top-Up, Recharge & Balance Check

Spark top-up vouchers are sold in Spark stores, grocery stores, corner shops & electronics shops throughout New Zealand.

To top up your Spark SIM card, dial *333, select option 1, enter your phone number, select option 1 again, and enter your VoucherCode.

You can also recharge online with (international) debit and credit cards.

You may have to try multiple times or use a different debit or credit card (if you have those) if your initial top-up request gets denied – the New Zealand mobile operators officially only accept NZ-issued cards. Still, you may be lucky (like me after several tries) – do not try virtual (single-use) cards, though – they will not work.

Dial *333 to check your Spark balance.

You can also top up and check your balance on the Spark NZ app (Android/iOS).

Spark New Zealand App
© Spark New Zealand
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Spark Speed Test Results (in Auckland, Lower Hutt/Hutt City & Wellington)

Alright, now it is time to talk about the speeds you can expect with Spark after covering all the other essential topics like coverage.

But before I share my 37 speed test results in Auckland, Lower Hutt/Hutt City (part of Greater Wellington) & Wellington, I want to set the stage first and make a small comparison with Spark's competition.

Spark is regarded by Speedtest as the slowest mobile operator in New Zealand in Q3 2022.

With a median download speed of 59.51 Mbps, Spark is behind One NZ (formerly Vodafone – 62.97 Mbps) and 2degrees (63.81 Mbps).

The same applies when looking at 5G NR speeds; Spark is the slowest with a median download speed of 307.21 Mbps, behind One NZ (342.45 Mbps) and 2degrees (479.71 Mbps).

The fastest mobile download speed can be found in Hamilton, with a median download speed of 96.39 Mbps.

Auckland, Christchurch & Wellington have median download speeds of around 60 Mbps (62.03 Mbps, 75.22 Mbps & 64.35 Mbps, respectively)

And of course Hamilton was the city I did not go to on this trip 🫠.

As of somewhere in early 2022, the Big Three (Spark, One NZ & 2degrees) allow prepaid customers to use 5G NR free of charge, regardless of the plan you choose.

Yes, this includes the Spark travel/tourist SIM cards, such as the one I used this on trip.

So I have plenty of 5G NR results to share with you.

Spark New Zealand Travel Pack Starter Pack Back

I did speed tests with the Speedtest app in three cities on North Island.

So I will go city to city, allowing you to just read the results of the city/cities/state you plan to visit.

For reference, I consider an average download speed of 25 Mbps and an average of 10 Mbps upload speed fast enough.

Preferably, download speeds should be 100 Mbps+ on 4G/LTE… but we are not there yet 🗿.

But why these averages?

A download speed of more than 25 Mbps is enough to video stream content @ 4k resolution.

Social media sites that allow for live streaming, like Facebook Live, recommend an upload speed of at least 10 Mbps.

So, that is why – but that does not mean that a download speed of less than 100 Mbps excited me 😏.

But Australia spoiled… everything slower than 300 Mbps is slow now 🤣.

Anyway, you will also see that some of the results are in red, green, underlined, or in italics.

Underlined results are on 5G NR, while results in italics are on 3G.

The results in green represent that that result was the fastest download or upload speed of all the New Zealand mobile operators (Spark, One NZ, 2dgrees, Skinny Mobile & Warehouse Mobile).

The results in red are the opposite; they are the slowest of them all.

With all of that out of the way, let's see how Spark performed in Auckland, Lower Hutt/Hutt City & Wellington.

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Spark Speed Test Results in Auckland

Auckland City New Zealand Flag
© Auckland City

Auckland, or Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland's Māori name), is New Zealand's largest city.

It is often confused with being the nation's capital, but that would be Wellington (which I visited too on this trip).

The main gateway to New Zealand is through Auckland Airport, so there is a big chance you will visit the city – even if you do not plan on staying.

Anyway, as I am not a regular travel blog, I do not have must-sees for you for Auckland (that would be a blog on its own 🤪), but I am sure you will not be bored in this city.

Let's see how Spark performed in Auckland:

Spark New Zealand Speed Test Results in Auckland

Very fast speeds with Spark in Auckland!

In fact, Spark had the second-fastest absolute download speed and second-fastest absolute upload speed in Auckland (both behind 2degrees (770.09 Mbps download and 101.53 Mbps upload).

Spark Speed Test at Glen Innis McDonald's in Auckland (362.38 Mbps)
Glen Innis McDonald's Auckland

I had an average download speed of 159.09 Mbps and a median download speed of 56.89 Mbps with Spark: it passed the 4K video streaming test in Auckland.

Spark Speed Test at Remuera Orakei Station in Auckland (100.29 Mbps)
Remuera Orakei Station Auckland

The same counts for the HD live streaming test in Auckland – Spark had an average upload speed of 39.19 Mbps and a median upload speed of 30.88 Mbps.

Spark's slowest download speed was at Auckland Airport in the international terminal (4.42 Mbps on 4G/LTE).

Spark Speed Test at Auckland Airport International Terminal in Auckland (4.42 Mbps)
Auckland Airport International Terminal Auckland

This was way too slow to pass the 4K video streaming test (minimum of 25 Mbps). This also made Spark the worst performer at this location (with Skinny Mobile being the second-slowest (12 Mbps on 4G/LTE – also on the Spark network)).

When we also look at the travel eSIMs and the Orange Holiday World SIM card I tested, Spark was the worst performer too.

Even the Nomad eSIM, using the Spark 4G/LTE network, performed slightly better (7.74 Mbps download on 4G/LTE).

Spark's worst upload speed performance was at the Ibis Budget hotel near Auckland Airport (0.43 Mbps on 4G/LTE), making it fail the HD live streaming test (minimum of 10 Mbps).

Spark Speed Test at Auckland Airport Ibis Budget in Auckland (0.43 Mbps)
Auckland Airport Ibis Budget Auckland

I cannot fully blame Spark because almost all SIM cards and travel eSIMs I tested struggled at this location (except for Warehouse Mobile, with an upload speed of 20.83 Mbps on 4G/LTE – on the 2degrees 4G/LTE network).


Spark Speed Test Results in Lower Hutt (Hutt City)

Hutt City Council Lower Hutt Flag
© Hutt City Council

Lower Hutt, or Te Awa Kairangi ki Tai (Lower Hutt's Māori name), is one of the four cities part of the Wellington metropolitan area (or Greater Wellington).

The reason why I separated Lower Hutt, administrated by Hutt City, from the Wellington results is (1) I did quite some tests in Lower Hutt and (2) most mobile operators, including Spark, do not have 5G NR access in Lower Hutt (yet), while Wellington does have 5G NR.

Should you visit Lower Hutt? You could – the nature is stunning there.

And being in Hutt Valley, also referred to as The Hutt, is remarkable too (if you can go on one of the hiking trails, you should!).

But if all of that sounds too boring to you, you can go to Queensgate Shopping Center, which may be the largest shopping mall in greater Wellington.

Let's see how Spark performed in Lower Hutt:

Spark New Zealand Speed Test Results in Lower Hutt City

Fast speeds with Spark in Lower Hutt!

In fact, Spark had the fastest absolute download speed but the second-slowest absolute upload speed in Lower Hutt.

Note that Spark had no 5G NR reception in Lower Hutt, which is why speeds were significantly slower there than in Auckland and Wellington

Spark Speed Test at Hutt Central Hutt Recreation Ground in Hutt City (180.81 Mbps)
Hutt Central Hutt Recreation Ground Hutt City

I had an average download speed of 70.12 Mbps and a median download speed of 47.68 Mbps with Spark: it passed the 4K video streaming test in Lower Hutt.

Spark Speed Test at Hutt Central Lower Hutt Town Hall in Hutt City (45.24 Mbps)
Hutt Central Lower Hutt Town Hall Hutt City

The same counts for the HD live streaming test in Lower Hutt – Spark had an average upload speed of 22.10 Mbps and a median upload speed of 23.01 Mbps.

Spark's slowest download speed was at Queensgate Shopping Center in Hutt Central (1.29 Mbps on 4G/LTE).

This was way too slow to pass the 4K video streaming test (minimum of 25 Mbps). This also made Spark the worst performer at this location (with Skinny Mobile being the second-slowest (1.53 Mbps on 4G/LTE – also on the Spark network)).

When we also look at the travel eSIMs and the Orange Holiday World I tested, Spark was the second-worst performer.

Only the Nomad eSIM, using the Spark 4G/LTE network, was slower, with a download speed of 1.29 Mbps on 4G/LTE.

Spark Speed Test at Hutt Central Queensgate Shopping Central in Hutt City (1.29 Mbps)
Hutt Central Queensgate Shopping Central Hutt City

Spark's worst upload speed performance was also at Queensgate Shopping Center in Hutt Central (0.80 Mbps on 4G/LTE), making it fail the HD live streaming test (minimum of 10 Mbps).

Spark Speed Test at Hutt Central Starbucks Lower Hutt in Hutt City (10.44 Mbps)
Hutt Central Starbucks Lower Hutt Hutt City

Once again, I cannot entirely blame Spark because almost all SIM cards and travel eSIMs I tested struggled at this location (except for One NZ (formerly Vodafone), with an upload speed of 4.47 Mbps on 5G NR).

Yeah, even the fastest was slow 🗿.


Spark Speed Test Results in Wellington

Wellington City New Zealand Flag
© Wellington City

Wellington, or Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington's Māori name), is New Zealand's capital.

It is the third-largest city in the country (behind Auckland and Christchurch).

While I believe Wellington is more exciting than Australia‘s capital, Canberra (yes, not Melbourne or Sydney), it is certainly not New Zealand's most exciting city.

It does remind me a little bit of Melbourne, Australia… but significantly smaller (and with way fewer trains 🗿).

Let's see how Spark performed in Wellington:

Spark New Zealand Speed Test Results in Wellington

Super fast speeds with Spark in Wellington!

In fact, Spark had the second-fastest absolute download speed and third-fastest absolute upload speed in Wellington.

Spark Speed Test at Te Aro Puro Chile in Wellington (364.09 Mbps)
Te Aro Puro Chile Wellington

I had an average download speed of 101.03 Mbps and a median download speed of 28.73 Mbps with Spark (both the slowest of all the mobile operators): it passed the 4K video streaming test in Wellington.

Spark Speed Test at Johnsonville Station in Wellington (49.88 Mbps)
Johnsonville Station Wellington

The same counts for the HD live streaming test in Wellington – Spark had an average upload speed of 25.31 Mbps and a median upload speed of 24.87 Mbps.

Spark's slowest download speed was at Truby King Park in Melrose (2.41 Mbps on 4G/LTE).

Spark Speed Test at Melrose Truby King Park in Wellington (2.41 Mbps)
Melrose Truby King Park Wellington

This was way too slow to pass the 4K video streaming test (minimum of 25 Mbps). This also made Spark the worst performer at this location (with Skinny Mobile being the second-slowest (9.21 Mbps on 3G – also on the Spark network)).

Somehow, Spark's 3G network was faster than its 4G/LTE network 🫠.

When we also look at the travel eSIMs and the Orange Holiday World I tested, Spark was the worst performer too.

Once again, even the Nomad eSIM, using the Spark network, performed slightly better (3.79 Mbps download on 4G/LTE).

Spark's worst upload speed performance was at Wellington Airport in the arrivals hall (0.00 Mbps on 3G), making it fail the HD live streaming test (minimum of 10 Mbps).

Spark Speed Test at Rongotai Wellington Airport Arrivals in Wellington (0.01 Mbps)
Rongotai Wellington Airport Arrivals Wellington

I have to say, the test often fails if it is stuck at 0.00 Mbps… so I am surprised it was even processed, lmao.

But I guess I also do not have to explain that every other SIM card and travel eSIM performed better because it is not hard to beat 0 🗿.

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My Overall Experience with Spark – Is It Any Good?

I would recommend Spark, but it would not be one of my top recommendations for anyone wanting to buy a New Zealand SIM card.

Phone Travel Wiz Partially Approved Seal

Getting a Spark SIM card is easy because many resellers sell them.

And once you insert your Spark SIM card into your phone, activation is quick.

Spark New Zealand Prepaid SIM Card & Travel Pack Starter Packs Back

With one of the best 4G/LTE availability and reach, you will have reception almost everywhere in New Zealand (but do not expect any coverage around and in the mountains).

The same can be said about Spark's 5G NR network, but it is not as extensive as One NZ (formerly Vodafone)'s.

Spark's data-featured prepaid plans are expensive by regional standards.

And, surprisingly, its tourist offering will be more affordable than its regular prepaid plans, which is unusual.

Spark New Zealand SIM Card Back

I also had fast speeds with Spark, especially on 5G NR, which is available for free for prepaid customers too.

Taking all 37 speed tests into account, I had an average overall download speed of 111.51 Mbps and a median download speed of 50.89 Mbps with Spark (the latter being the slowest of them all).

When looking at upload speeds, I had an average upload speed of 28.94 Mbps and a median upload speed of 25.84 Mbps with Spark.

As expected, Spark's 5G NR speeds were significantly faster than 4G/LTE (239.44 Mbps average download speed on 5G NR vs. 50.10 Mbps on 4G/LTE).

Spark New Zealand Overall Speed Test Results in Auckland, Lower Hutt City & Wellington

But Spark was often outperformed by 2degrees and Skinny Mobile (using the 2degrees 5G NR network), but it often did better than One NZ.

And the Nomad eSIM, using the Spark 4G/LTE network, did quite well for a local eSIM (and it can be cheaper than Spark itself if you want to use more than 4 GB of data).

With extensive coverage, relatively expensive data-featured prepaid plans & fast speeds, there is nothing crazy to complain about Spark.

Spark New Zealand SIM Cards Held by Adu from Phone Travel Wiz
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New Zealand SIM Card Reviews

As mentioned earlier, I also tried out One NZ (formerly Vodafone), 2degrees, Skinny Mobile & Warehouse Mobile when I was in New Zealand.

You should read those reviews too.

>>> One NZ (formerly Vodafone) Review | 2degrees Review | Skinny Mobile Review | Warehouse Mobile Review <<<

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Later, I will make a comparison post of the five New Zealand SIM cards I tried… but that will take a while (I have many reviews of other countries that I still need to write, so they are prioritized).

But you can still make an educated purchased after reading the New Zealand SIM card reviews.

Spark, One-Vodafone, 2degrees, Skinny Mobile & Warehouse Mobile SIM Cards Held by Adu from Phone Travel Wiz

I also tried out various travel eSIMs + a travel SIM card that work in New Zealand: Airalo (Nzcom & Discover Global), Holafly & Nomad + Orange Holiday World (SIM card).

You should also read those reviews.

>>> Airalo Nzcom New Zealand eSIM Review | Airalo Discover Global eSIM Review | Holafly New Zealand eSIM Review | Nomad New Zealand eSIM Review | Orange Holiday World Travel SIM Card in New Zealand Review <<<

Check out my reviews page if you want to read all the other reviews I have written, including other Oceanian SIM cards.

New Zealand SIM Card Buying Guide

There are four other SIM cards to choose from in New Zealand besides Spark.

I analyze and discuss them in-depth in my New Zealand SIM card buying guide.

Buying a SIM Card in New Zealand Guide (logos of One NZ, Spark, Warehouse Mobile, Skinny Mobile & 2degrees)

Next Steps to Enhance Your Travel Experiences

Looking for the next steps to enhance your phone travel experiences? Here is what to do:

Support Phone Travel Wiz

It takes a lot of time to analyze, translate & review the SIM card options worldwide (especially to test them out).

Your support helps me keep producing impartial content by eliminating the need to recommend international SIM cards as the best local SIM card (but some of them CAN be useful).

Every Ko-Fi donation, one-time or monthly, helps me to spend more time creating local SIM card buying guides.

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Check Out My Resource Page

Looking for the best companies and gadgets to enhance your travel experience

Check out my travel resources page for the best companies to use when you travel!

Save money with international SIM cards, on plane tickets, bus rides, cruises & accommodation.

Besides that, I also list services and items I use to make my life easier – and I believe they will help you too!

Start Your Own Online Business – Make Money While Traveling

Do you want to learn how I started an online business that allows me to generate income while traveling?

In my starting an online business guide, I tell you which tools, services & products I have for this site and my YouTube channel.

If I can start a business about something I am passionate about (phone travel), then you can do it too!

Learn About Your Phone Travel Options

You can buy local prepaid SIM cardsinternational SIM cardsmobile hotspots, or roam internationally.

Each of these options has its pros and cons. Learn more about them, and find the best option for you.

Phone Travel Tips, Tricks & Hacks

I have written many articles with tips and hacks to save money on mobile costs while abroad. You surely want to check them out!

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Get updates related to the newest guides, videos & recommended products and services.

Moreover, I send you many tips and tricks on saving money while traveling every now and then.

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Did you know that I have a YouTube channel covering everything you need to know about traveling with your phone?

A lot of useful videos are uploaded multiple times a week, and you do not want to miss out on them!

Learn More About Who Adu Actually Is

Who is the guy behind Phone Travel Wiz? Well, find out on the Ernest Adu about page!