Cellphone New Zealand Usage Guide
You wonder whether to bring your own cellphone to New Zealand or buy a new one upon arrival? This article will tell you what option is best for you and which companies to chose from.
Having a mobile phone or a cellphone in New Zealand is essential – especially when backpacking or working and traveling. You will not only need it for emergency calls (111 is the number for police, fire brigade and ambulance). It’s also important to be available for potential employers to get in touch with you for job interviews, talk to car owners when inquiring about vehicles and a cellphone makes it easier to book hostels on the go.
Prepaid SIM card vs. contract
Considering that your stay in New Zealand is limited to a year maximum we recommend to get a prepaid card. If you sign up for our Kiwi Information Days in Auckland we will provide you with a prepaid card for no extra cost. Most companies offer contracts for 2 years only so unless you have someone who will take over your contract upon your departure we strongly discourage that option.
Cellphones from your home country will only work if they are unlocked. If you got your phone on a contract that might not be the case so check with your provider. Otherwise you can get a cheap cellphone simply for calling and texting in New Zealand for only $40. Prices for smartphones usually start around $100 – but don’t expect anything too flash.
Mobile cellphone New Zealand providers
There are 4 different providers currently offering cellphone coverage in New Zealand: Vodafone, Spark (formerly known as Telecom NZ), 2Degrees and Skinny Mobile. For backpackers we recommend 2Degrees as they currently have the best options available. Prepaid cards are only $5 – without any credit, though. Top-ups worth $20 are available at supermarkets, dairies and gas stations. Additionally you can purchase flatrates to send up to 2500 text messages for free within New Zealand or get data to surf the internet. A $19 value pack with 2Degrees gives you 90 minutes to Australia and New Zealand, unlimited text messages to both of those countries and 500MB of data. All of it carries over to the next month if not used. 2Degrees Cellphone New Zealand provider, you will find in our starter-package in form from a SIM Card.
Vodafone in comparison offers prepaid cards for $35 – no credit, but 100 free minutes and text messages to other Vodafone users. They expire at the end of the month. Smartphone users can get a $19 prepay plan that includes free weekend calls to Vodafone users, 500MB data, 100 minutes to New Zealand and Australia as well as unlimited text to both countries. If you have lots of friends who also use Vodafone this might be a good deal. Otherwise you end up paying more for calls to other networks once you’ve used your free minutes.
Spark offers $19 value packs that include 100 free minutes to any New Zealand network, unlimited text to any New Zealand network, 500MB of data as well as 1GB of free WiFi per day if you are in a Spark Hotspot area. Spark Cellphone New Zealand provider is the best provider in our opinion.
Skinny is more of an outsider compared to the 3 giants. The company only offers prepaid with SIM cards costing only $2. But to truly benefit from their deals you’d have to know lots of people using Skinny as well since most of their deals are only valid contacting other Skinny users.
Here is some more information on each provider. Note that Spark used to be Telecom New Zealand until a massive re-branding in August 2014.