Last Updated: November 19, 2023

New Zealand: Best Prepaid Sim Cards For Travel

Ready to head to New Zealand and need to buy a SIM card when you land?

There are lots of prepaid SIM card options in New Zealand but figuring out which one is best for your trip is not always easy.

Below we will look at the top New Zealand sim cards for travelers, how much they cost, where to buy them, how to activate them, and more. Just scroll down to find the best sim card for you…

Buy A SIM Before You Go

If you want to avoid the hassle of shopping for a SIM card in New Zealand when you land, you can get one before you leave.

Personally, I no longer get SIM cards, I just go straight for the online option of buying an ESIM for New Zealand. It’s usually cheaper, if not just easier and you can do it on the fly, even once you land.

There are also two worthwhile options available in my experience with SIM cards:

Best Prepaid SIM Cards for New Zealand

Spark Prepaid SIM Card

Spark Prepaid Sim Card

Spark is one of the largest local mobile phone providers in New Zealand and therefore, with a Spark NZ sim card, you will have reliable coverage and fast data speeds all around New Zealand.

Spark has four New Zealand travel sim cards for you to choose from and they are quite affordable. Each of their plans also lasts 3 months so you can slowly burn through the data, calls, and minutes at your own pace while traveling around.

Spark New Zealand Prepaid SIM Card Options

Spark’s most affordable local sim costs $29 NZ and it comes with 2 GB, 200 NZ call mins and texts, plus 100 international call mins and texts.

This is not that much data for three months, but it is nice that you get some free NZ calls/texts, plus some free calls/texts to home which include the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, and lots more.

Sparks other prepaid NZ sim card options include:

  • 10 GB, 200 NZ mins/texts, 200 international mins/texts – $49 NZ
  • 50 GB, Unlimited NZ mins/texts, 200 international mins/texts – $79 NZ
  • Unlimited GB, Unlimited NZ mins/texts, 300 international mins/texts – $129 NZ (slower speeds after 100GB)

As you can see, you can pretty much find a Spark NZ sim card to match your data needs for up to 3 months of traveling around New Zealand.

Vodafone Prepaid SIM Card

Vodafone Prepaid Sim Card

Vodafone New Zealand is another of the most reliable mobile network providers in New Zealand. With Vodafone sim cards, you will have great coverage and fast connection speeds everywhere you travel in this stunning country.

Like Spark, Vodafone New Zealand also has four New Zealand prepaid SIM cards for you to choose from when traveling around New Zealand.

They are more affordable than Spark but expire in 30 or 60 days instead of 90 days, so bear in mind you might have to top up for your last 30 days if you are staying for three months.

Vodafone Prepaid SIM Card Options

Vodafone’s most affordable SIM cards for New Zealand give you the following:

2 GB of data, 200 mins/texts for NZ & international countries – $29 NZ for 30 days

This is a worse deal than Spark, as it lasts for 60 days less and you do not get NZ calls/texts plus international calls, they are all clumped together.

Vodafone’s other prepaid New Zealand SIM cards are:

  • 10 GB, Unlimited NZ mins/texts, 200 international mins/texts – $49 NZ for 60 days
  • 40 GB, Unlimited NZ mins/texts, 200 international mins/texts – $69 NZ for 60 days
  • 100 GB, Unlimited NZ mins/texts, 250 international mins/texts – $99 NZ for 60 days

Vodafone and Spark have very similar offerings; Sparks last longer and are better if you are in New Zealand for 90 days. Vodafone’s nz sim cards are more affordable and offer the same data usage, so are the most cost-effective if you are only in NZ for 60 days or less.

2degrees Prepaid SIM Card

2degrees Prepaid Sim Card

2degrees is another excellent local network provider to buy a local sim from. Their New Zealand prepaid sim card options are extensive and come with both great coverage and excellent connection speeds.

2degrees has nine different prepaid NZ travel sim options, a lot more than both Vodafone and Spark. They offer 3 x 14-day options and 6 monthly options. I will focus on the monthly options as not many people fly to New Zealand for just 2 weeks.

2degrees NZ Travel SIM Options

Before we get into the details of each of these packages, some extras come with a 2-degree sim card.

They provide a Free Data Hour every day where you can use unlimited data for an hour each day, Unlimited texts to NZ & Aussie, and Unlimited calls to 2degrees mobiles. These are pretty awesome benefits, here are the 2degrees monthly plans available:

  • 250 MB, 100 Carryover mins to NZ & Aussie – $10 NZ
  • 1.5 GB, 200 Carryover mins to NZ & Aussie – $19 NZ
  • 3 GB, 300 Carryover mins to NZ & Aussie – $30 NZ
  • 8 GB, Unlimited* Calls to NZ & Aussie – $45 NZ
  • 15 GB, Unlimited* Calls to NZ & Aussie – $60 NZ\
  • 120 GB, Unlimited* Calls to NZ & Aussie – $85 NZ (once data runs out, unlimited data at slower speeds)

As you can see, 2degrees sucks you in with their unlimited texts and calls as well as their free data hour, which is pretty cool. But, these make more sense for locals than people traveling.

Overall, their plans are more expensive than both Spark and Vodafone for traveling.

Skinny Prepaid SIM Card

Skinny Prepaid Sim Card

Your final choice of providers for your best NZ sim card is the travel sim from Skinny. Skinny is another reliable provider with good coverage and fast speeds for your travel sim while touring around New Zealand. They are a part of Sprint.

Skinny has 5 different packages to choose from all of which are monthly contracts that renew every 28 days, bear that in mind when doing your cost comparisons.

Skinny NZ Travel Sim Options

All of these come with unlimited texts to NZ & Aussie plus unlimited skinny-to-skinny calls.

  • 1.25 GB, 200 Rollover mins to NZ & Aussie – $16 NZ
  • 2.5 GB, 300 Rollover mins to NZ & Aussie – $26 NZ
  • 4.5 GB, Unlimited mins to NZ & Aussie – $36 NZ (unlimited data at lower speeds after 4.5 GB)
  • 12.5 GB, Unlimited mins to NZ & Aussie – $46 NZ (unlimited data at lower speeds after 12.5 GB)
  • 40 GB GB, Unlimited mins to NZ & Aussie – $70 NZ (unlimited data at lower speeds after 40 GB)

Skinny has some great deals and are worth looking at if you are in New Zealand for a month but their deals are not as affordable as Sprint or Vodafone.

Is A SIM Card Essential When Traveling to New Zealand?

A SIM card is essential for a trip to New Zealand because many of its more wild areas often don’t have free WiFi.

Big cities like Auckland and Wellington have free WiFi. You can also find it at museums, libraries, and train stations. But outside the cities, you’ll need a hotel or a cafe for free WiFi.

Without a New Zealand sim, using Google Maps is hard. You also can’t hail taxis easily or book tickets. Finding places to eat and keeping in touch with home can be tough too.

Getting a New Zealand sim isn’t too pricey. It’s worth it to stay connected when you travel. It’s also cheaper than using your home sim card abroad.

Things to Know Before Buying A Sim Card in New Zealand

nano sim card

Is Your Phone Unlocked?

Your phone needs to be unlocked for a New Zealand sim card to work. So how can you tell if your phone is unlocked?

If you bought your phone without a contract from a provider, then it’s likely unlocked. It should work with a New Zealand sim card.

However, if your phone was free with a contract from a provider, it may be locked to that provider.

To unlock it, contact your provider. Ask if your phone is locked. If it is, request them to unlock it. This process should only take about 5 minutes.

Are You Using A GSM Phone?

Mobile phones operate on either GSM or CDMA technology, which enables them to link to mobile networks. The issue is that GSM phones cannot function on CDMA networks, and the same applies in reverse, meaning your phone’s tech must align with the network’s.

In New Zealand, the network used is GSM. If you’ve purchased your phone anywhere except North America, it’s likely a GSM device.

North America, specifically Canada and the United States, still employ CDMA phones in certain cases, predominantly with service providers like Sprint and Verizon. If your phone is CDMA, you’ll have to acquire a GSM phone to use a New Zealand sim card.

How to Buy A Sim Card in New Zealand

sim cards

Buying A Sim Card Before Traveling to New Zealand

It is ways easier to have your SIM card before you travel to New Zealand. That way, when you land, you just have to insert your New Zealand sim into your phone and you will be connected.

Buying a sim online from one of the local providers and having it delivered to your home is not so easy. If you are in the

Buying A Sim Card in New Zealand

Acquiring a sim card in New Zealand can be simple or difficult, depending on the provider.

You can find a Skinny Spark sim card at international airports in Christchurch and Auckland. They are also available at supermarkets, Spark stores, petrol stations, and online.

2degrees sim cards can be purchased online, in 2degrees stores, supermarkets, and petrol stations. Stores like Warehouse Stationery, PB Tech, JB Hi-Fi, and Harvey Norman also sell them.

However, getting a Vodafone sim card can be more challenging. You can only buy them from a Vodafone store, online, or at their airport store.

How Much Does A Sim Card in New Zealand Cost?

You do have to buy the physical sim card in New Zealand in some cases and it usually costs about $1 NZ for a sim card, so it is very cheap. How much your sim card costs after that is up to the plan you choose and how much data you use.

How to Activate & Top Up Your New Zealand Sim Card

sim card slot

Activating and topping up your NZ sim card is very easy. If you have bought a prepaid sim, you can just dial a number to activate it, with Vodafone the number 777.

Topping up is just as easy. You can buy a top-up scratch card, do it online, or call and pay with a card.

Managing Your Mobile Data in New Zealand

If you’re traveling on a tight budget and need to save as much data as possible in New Zealand, there are smart strategies to help. Here are some suggestions:

  • Turn on airplane mode on your phone when not in use
  • Use WiFi to download areas you’re visiting in Google Maps for offline navigation
  • Limit data-heavy apps like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Netflix to WiFi only
  • Make the most of free WiFi whenever it’s available.

Frequently Asked Questions

About the Author Roger Timbrook

Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!

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