Phones in New Zealand

using phone
Updated 2023-02-12 10:19

Being able to connect with your family worldwide is important, especially when you have moved overseas - and you really can't get further away than New Zealand! Luckily, it's getting easier and easier to stay connected. New Zealand has reliable mobile phone coverage over most of the country, but you may have limited connectivity in rural areas.

What cell phone option you pursue will depend on how long you're staying. If you are only here for a short period, it may work out to keep your home phone plan and pay for the additional international roaming charges. Alternatively, you can pick up a pay-as-you-go sim for only a few dollars and insert this into your existing phone, so long as it is unlocked. You can then use this sim, as well as the freely available wi-fi across major cities. If you are planning on being in New Zealand in the long term, then signing up for a contract is a great option, as these often end up being more affordable.

Landlines in New Zealand

It is becoming less common for people in New Zealand to have a landline telephone in addition to a mobile phone: in 2019, about 53% of households had a landline, and this percentage has likely decreased since then, as the trend towards mobile-only communication continues. Now that internet connections at home are no longer linked to having a landline, there is less incentive for people to retain their landlines.

If you do still want to sign up for a landline, the two largest landline providers are Spark and Vodafone. These companies offer landline service as part of a package with internet and mobile phone service. Other companies that provide landline service in New Zealand include 2degrees, Slingshot, and Orcon. These companies often offer competitive pricing and various plans to choose from, so it is worth shopping around to find the best deal. It is also possible to get landline service from a small, local provider in certain areas.

Mobile phones in New Zealand

Most people in New Zealand will have a mobile phone and use them regularly. The easiest thing to do is to make sure your phone is unlocked before you leave your home country so you are able to use your phone in New Zealand and insert a SIM from a New Zealand provider into it. There will be some phone providers in the airport, so you're able to pick up a sim card as soon as you arrive. Pay-as-you-go SIMs cost only a few dollars, and plans will range from NZ$20-30 onwards. Vodafone, Spark and 2Degrees are the leading phone providers in New Zealand.

If you don't have an unlocked phone, then you will have to buy one when you arrive. In this case, you will probably want to research the various suppliers and their options so you can make your purchase and start your new plan as soon as possible. You can usually buy a phone on contract, along with your data/minutes.

There are several mobile phone providers in New Zealand, each with its own set of plans, features, and benefits:

  • Spark: Spark is New Zealand's largest mobile phone provider and offers a range of plans for both prepaid and postpaid customers. It has a wide range of devices available and offers good coverage throughout the country
  • Vodafone: Vodafone is another major mobile phone provider in New Zealand and offers a variety of plans for both prepaid and postpaid customers. It has a wide range of devices available and offers good coverage in both urban and rural areas.
  • 2degrees: 2degrees is a smaller mobile phone provider that offers a range of plans for both prepaid and postpaid customers. It has a smaller selection of devices available but is known for its competitive pricing and good coverage in urban areas.
  • Skinny: Skinny is a budget mobile phone provider that offers cheap prepaid plans with a focus on simplicity. It has a limited selection of devices available and does not offer postpaid plans.

When choosing a mobile phone provider in New Zealand, it's important to consider factors such as coverage, price, and the features and plans that are most important to you. Doing some research before you choose your provider will help you establish coverage in your area, data options, and affordability.

Coverage in New Zealand

Mobile phone coverage in New Zealand is generally good, with all major cities and many rural areas having decent coverage from at least one of the country's three main mobile network operators: Spark, Vodafone, and 2degrees. In the last few years, these companies have invested heavily in building out their networks so that mobile phone users in New Zealand can expect to have reliable coverage in most places. Different providers will have different levels of coverage in some parts of the country, so if you are in a remote area with a friend who uses a different network than you, you may discover they have service while you do not. New Zealand has famously rugged terrain and remote natural areas, and coverage can still be patchy in such places, particularly in the mountains and some off-shore islands. If you are planning to travel to a remote part of New Zealand, it is a good idea to check with your mobile provider to find out if they have coverage in the area you will be visiting.

5G in New Zealand

5G is the latest generation of cellular mobile communications technology and, as you would expect, it comes with faster speeds and more capacity than previous generations of mobile technology. The 5G network is now live in parts of Auckland, Hamilton, Bay of Plenty, Manawatū-Whanganui, Taranaki, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown, Southland and more. 4G, or fourth-generation technology, is the predecessor to 5G, and is available across much of the country. Not all cell phones are compatible with 5G technology, but generally, those purchased more recently are more likely to be compatible with the latest network technologies.

Depending on where you are in New Zealand, your phone may move between 5G, 4G, and 3G networks.

Networks in New Zealand

You need to make sure your unlocked phone is compatible with the networks used by your chosen provider:

  • 2degrees: GSM, UMTS and LTE
  • Spark: UMTS, HSDPA and LTE
  • Vodafone: GSM, UMTS, HSDPA and LTE

Making phone calls in New Zealand

To call abroad, you must dial "00" or “ ” followed by the country code and the number of your correspondent without the initial "0". Here are some examples:

  • Australia: 0061/ 61, area code, the number you are calling without the initial "0"
  • United States: 001/ 1, state code, the number you are calling without the initial "0"
  • UK: 0044/ 44, area code, the number you want to call without the initial "0"
  • Switzerland: 0041/ 41, the number of your correspondent without the initial "0"
  • Canada: 001/ 1, area code, the number you are calling without the initial "0"

Messaging apps in New Zealand

If you plan on regularly communicating with friends and family back home, it is often much more affordable to do this via cross–platform messaging apps that use your internet connection or phone data. There are many popular messaging apps that can be used in this way, including iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, Line, WeChat and Hike.

In general, these apps can be a cheaper alternative to traditional phone services for international communication, as they usually offer free voice and video calls – as long as both parties have an internet connection. This makes long calls and sharing images and videos much more affordable. It's highly likely you'll have lots of stunning pictures of New Zealand to send to your friends back home, so we recommend using these platforms and cutting down on the costs standard international calls and messages can incur.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.