While the goal may be to disconnect and get away, we all know that the practicalities of modern life – not to mention travel planning – require staying connected from time to time. These tips will give you options on how to stay online and connected while traveling in New Zealand.

Mobile phones
New Zealand’s cellular network supports GSM mobile phones on a 900-frequency and phones need a SIM card to work. You can always bring your own phone and use your home provider, but be certain to check with them ahead of time so avoid costly ‘surprise’ bills for roaming at the end of the trip. Another option is to have your phone ‘unlocked’ and insert a New Zealand SIM card – just be certain to check that your phone is compatible with one of the four local networks: Vodafone and 2degrees or Spark and Skinny. Finally, cheap ‘candy bar’ phones with prepaid SIM cards can also be bought – which means if you lose it while scaling a glacier you won’t be replacing an expensive smartphone when you get home.

Photo of mobile phone

Free Wi-Fi while on the road
Internet cafes still dot both islands, with a good clustering in the main cities. It is also handy to know that once you are out of the cities most cafes, coffee shops and fast food chains throughout the country will provide a code for free Wi-Fi if you make a purchase. Public libraries provide free access as well through this initiative. The only downsides (to the upside that these options are free) are that you have to search them out, plan ahead and access is limited to each establishment’s working hours.

Wi-Fi campsites and holiday parks
Most holiday parks have their own Internet schemes, which you can buy into.  It is best to check each company’s websites ahead of time for details. A more universal, flexible option is a prepaid internet card from IAC, the Internet Access Company.  The card can be used at any participating campsite or café (over 200 throughout New Zealand).

Wi-Fi for motorhomes
If you are renting a motorhome, check with your rental agency regarding on board Wi-Fi options – most companies will offer this at an additional cost.  For cost comparison, or if you are traveling in your own (or borrowing a friend’s) motorhome check out NZMCA Data at 4G speeds. It is plug and play easy to use, with high speed, consistent data at competitive rates. And with no contract, only a thirty-day cancellation notice, it provides great flexibility.

Staying connected in New Zealand is easy
Today it is easy to stay connected while traveling - most of New Zealand’s cellular providers advertise 97% coverage.  Start by talking to your home cellular provider to see what their travel plans on, they should also be able to tell you how much data you currently use so that you can plan ahead - just remember maps and GPS can use a lot of data! When it comes to internet while traveling there are a great many options, the trade-offs usually being price point versus flexibility.

If you have picked up any great tips for staying connected while traveling, we’d love to hear about them in the comments areas below!


Phone by Moyan Brenn, CC BY 2.0

Girl with Laptop Outside by CollegeDegrees360, CC BY 2.0