Best sim card for NZ
December 18, 2015 9:54 PM   Subscribe

I'm heading home to New Zealand for the holidays and would like to get a prepaid sim with some data and decent coverage.

We're driving from Christchurch to Tekapo and then will be spending time in the Marlborough Sounds before heading to Wellington.

I'd like at least 3gb data and decent coverage as we're likely to use Google maps when we drive around. I'm not going to be doing a huge amount of texting or calling.

I've got an unlocked phone and will just grab the sim card from the supermarket.

Who has the best deals and coverage at the moment?
posted by poxandplague to Travel & Transportation around New Zealand (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
My family went to visit my sister who lives in Wellington and toured the country for a month - before they left, they bought a prepaid SIM card for the Spark network off UK eBay and had no complaints. I can't remember the exact cost, but it was only something like £20 and had enough data on it to last their entire trip using Google Maps, looking up locations and tourist info online etc. When they called, I could hear them fine from back in the UK! eBay tends to have a good selection of SIMs for foreign networks.

Coverage is nothing like what we're used to in the UK, where 3G/4G are pretty much ubiquitous even in fairly remote areas - vast areas of rural NZ are just not covered by any network. But coverage along roads and in towns seemed pretty good.

Something to watch is to make sure your phone is compatible with the networks there. Most modern smartphones work worldwide (except some American models) but to be on the safe side you can look up your phone model here and check that it's compatible with networks at 850 and 2100MHz.
posted by winterhill at 3:39 AM on December 19, 2015


In NZ now using $1 sim from 2 degrees with a 5gb deal. I've had better coverage then some of my companions but there's a lot of places I've been on South Island with no coverage at all. (I picked 2 degrees because I did a fair amount of Internet research in advance, and this was recommended by other travellers). Heading to North Island tomorrow but tour has advised that again there will be lots of areas with no coverage. iPad has books but honestly scenery so marvellous I haven't finished one book yet.
posted by b33j at 3:55 AM on December 19, 2015


Oh the 5gb deal was $70 for the month I think. Much better than international roaming from oz. probably considered super expensive in other countries but best deal I found.
posted by b33j at 3:56 AM on December 19, 2015


Phone compatibility won't be an issue
posted by poxandplague at 4:27 AM on December 19, 2015


I travel to NZ a fair bit.

There's not much to choose between the operators on price. Coverage in more remote areas is spotty at best. I use Spark, and it's always worked well at a reasonable price.

Expect to pay around NZ$50-80 for 5GB, depending on which package you choose.

There are significant chunks of your planned journey where you will not have much network. This is not a problem! They have signposts and road signs. If you know it's 120 kms through mountains to the next town, you drive 120 kms until you get there.

In rural areas, you can ask people. They're kiwis! They're friendly!
posted by Combat Wombat at 7:45 AM on December 19, 2015


I've got an unlocked phone and will just grab the sim card from the supermarket.

Keep an eye out for tourist info offices. Last time in NZ they were handing out free ones (can't recall the service, sorry).
posted by pompomtom at 6:21 PM on December 19, 2015


We were back last Christmas and bought prepaid SIMs at Warehouse Stationery. The best deal at the time was with Skinny, which is Telecom/Spark's "youth market" provider, I think.

Jealous! We have a bach in the Sounds and I wish we could be there (and here at the same time).
posted by tracicle at 11:54 PM on December 19, 2015


A tangent: Google's most recent updates to maps on both Android and iOS added offline maps and navigation. Download the areas you'll visit before you go, and you get maps and point-to-point navigation (with the usual turn-by-turn voice directions, rerouting as needed, etc.) with zero data usage. Good for when out of range of signal or just to reduce data usage. I actually just used it on a three week trip around NZ where we didn't bother getting an NZ SIM, and the offline navigation worked perfectly everywhere we went. Most places you stop (hotel, motel, campground, cafe, museum, ...) have wifi, so we just used that for everything else.
posted by whatnotever at 9:12 PM on December 20, 2015


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