Please help me use my US phone in Australia and New Zealand.
August 5, 2014 10:10 AM   Subscribe

I'm traveling to Australia and New Zealand later this month and would like to use my Verizon iPhone 5s. Can you help me figure out what SIM card to buy?

I understand, in theory, how all of this works: unlock phone, arrive in country, buy card, use card, but I've gotten intimidated by all of the options in the "buy card" step. I haven't started researching New Zealand yet, but it seems as though the Australian options are as complex as what we have to wade through in the US.

I've confirmed with Verizon that my phone is already unlocked. I'm going to be in Australia for two weeks (starting in Sydney) and New Zealand for one (starting in Wellington), and I'm really just focused on having a data plan, so I can research things as needed, use maps, and send iMessages. I'm prepared to rely on wifi in New Zealand if the card options are too expensive for just a week of use.

Can anyone offer advice on inexpensive plans, the best places to go to buy the card, and general tips for getting all this to work?
posted by cndelia to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Once you get to the terminal in Auckland, there will be a cell phone shop right there, where you can buy a sim. I couldn't use my older phone there because NZ requires penta-band support. The plan was cheap enough that buying it on the spot was fine. Like any rural location, expect spotty coverage anywhere you go in NZ, and expect to pay for internet, if you're not using your phone, as well.
posted by Phredward at 10:22 AM on August 5, 2014

I had the same experience as Phredward. I did no research, arrived in Auckland at airport terminal and purchased a sim card, I believe it was Vodafone. There weren't many options, they weren't overly expensive, and they were all laid out simply on a little flyer at the checkout counter, and it took about 2 mins and the phone immediately worked. It was great to have access to data in NZ! (of course, it didn't work up in the mountains or out in way rural country, but the coverage was good) I don't know the situation in Aus, but I don't think you need to worry about NZ.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:38 AM on August 5, 2014

treehorn+bunny: "I had the same experience as Phredward. I did no research, arrived in Auckland at airport terminal and purchased a sim card, I believe it was Vodafone. "

You can expect the same in Australia. There are Vodafone and Optus stores in SYD. Pick a plan and away you go. Vodafone will be fine unless you're going bush.

Vodafone Australia prepaid
Telstra prepaid plans
Optus prepaid plans
posted by zamboni at 12:04 PM on August 5, 2014

In Sydney you can pick up a free sim card at the international terminal right after leaving customs. I think it's vodaphone, but I can't be sure. In any case you'll see a big sign advertising it and then th booth is right near the exit from customs, on your right as you come out.
posted by lollusc at 3:29 PM on August 5, 2014

There's an Optus stand as well right outside customs in Sydney and they have a good $30 pre-paid plan that always served me well when I was here on business for a week or two.
posted by olinerd at 5:11 PM on August 5, 2014

Bear in mind that if you require coverage in remote areas of Australia your only option is Telstra, though Optus is sometimes ok. Even then do not count on service if you are a good way from a town.
posted by deadwax at 6:53 PM on August 5, 2014

Optus $2/day looks excellent (like, so good that I' considering it myself). If you end up with Vodafone, the $30 cap has 500MB (I use vodafone in Sydney - It's pretty good). Telstra is more expensive for what you get, but might be worth it if you're going bush.
posted by kjs4 at 9:10 PM on August 5, 2014

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