If you are planning to come to New Zealand soon, you will probably want to know what the best sim card for travelling New Zealand is. As travel evolves we seem to be relying more and more on technology throughout the day (such as the best New Zealand travel apps). while most of the world has great mobile phone plans that give you plenty of data, New Zealand still has struggles with no great data plans and wi-fi connectivity that is often very limited in scope.

Every time I come back to New Zealand I need a phone card. As of May 2016, this is what my research has led me to believe is the best phone plan for the vast majority of travellers who place a premium on data and any subsequent data and text is a bonus.

List of New Zealand Mobile Phone Companies

Best Sim Card for Travelling New Zealand

Short Answer: Skinny

You will make friends in New Zealand but you aren’t as likely to ask for their phone number as you might have back in the day.

In today’s world you simply ask them for their Facebook, WhatsApp or whatever social media platform you share and therefore Skinny offers the best sim card for travel in New Zealand. This is in terms of price and data amount. The best sim card for travelling in NZ is definitely Skinny.

You will need to buy a sim card first. you can purchase one online or simply go into any major retail shop and they should have one sim cards for sale (The Warehouse, Harvey Norman, Woolworths etc.).

Which Skinny Combo To Get?

skinny prepaid plan

You can get weekly and monthly combos but the flexibility of the weekly combos make them superior. For $5 you can get 250mb which might last you the week. if not, you will need to get some addons.

best sim card for travelling new zealand

skinny addons

The best value add on is 600mb for $8. You may not need that much more data, in which case you can choose one of the other addons above.

Need to make some calls and or texts? I generally ask a friend or a random, no one uses all their credit so it is never a problem. If not grab a combo that allows you a few calls and/or text messages.

Where To Find Free Wi-Fi In New Zealand

Short Answer: Public Libraries.

Cafes and restaurants are hit and miss in New Zealand. just when you think you have finally found a cafe that offers wi-fi, there is a restriction placed on the time (45 minutes) or the connection is a flashback back to dial up in 1996.

free wi-fi is becoming more popular in the larger cities. I’ve had good success in Auckland and Wellington CBD where you can connect to the surprisingly fast wi-fi from the centre of the city.

Some retail shops and shopping malls have also started to promote free wi-fi in store. I haven’t found a solid pattern for which shops do or do not have wi-fi but The Warehouse is always a safe option.

Of course, there is always McDonalds. As much as you want to avoid going there, it’s the one reliable place worldwide you can find wi-fi (when it is working), there’s also the more expensive choice of Starbucks.


Why Are New Zealand Sim Cards So Expensive

No one knows the real answer but given Spark and Vodafone were the only two main players for many years, the were running quite the duopoly. Keeping prices high as demand increased.

I believe that there is also something about the cables needing to run underground all the way to New Zealand (not sure from where…) that plays a part too.

With the addition of low cost competitors like Skinny (who use the Spark network…confusing!) making a move into the market hopefully New Zealand sim card plans start to increase there data amounts and ultimately the price over the next few years.

Wi-Fi Coverage In New Zealand

Overall it is pretty good quality. If you are anywhere near a town or city you will be fine. In some random low key places where you might soon feel remote like Cape Palliser near Martinborough you might find you will be out of coverage.

For another opinion for buying a sim card in New Zealand, check out Too Many Adapters.