Which mobile phone sim card is the right choice in New Zealand? – Backpacking Tips

Contract or prepaid sim card in New Zealand

The classic question of all travelers, and probably yours as well, is which mobile phone sim card you should take in New Zealand. As a traveler, a classic mobile phone contract for a year or longer is not the right choice. But of course there are other sim cards that cover your needs on data, minutes and texts. Most often, a package contains free minutes, free texts or internet data. With the higher priced plans you get a mix of all this three things. So you just have to choose the plan that fits your needs.


The largest mobile phone providers in New Zealand are Vodafone & Spark. Then there are resellers like 2degrees or Skinny direct. From my point of view, there is only the choice between the two big players or their resellers; they offer the best network and the largest radio coverage in New Zealand.


The three companies I can recommend are:


Monthly paid packages

Both providers have different sized packages and changing offers every month, these can be booked and normally continue to run month after month until you stop the plan, the extension just runs as long as there is enough money on the sim card.



Vodafone has a Travel Sim card, you can find more exact current offers here, this sim card is ideal for travelers who no longer stay in the country and who regularly want to have contact with their home. For the current status, the cheaper package costs 29 NZD and the more expensive 49 NZD. The difference is the enclosed volume and the number of free SMS and telephone minutes.

Vodafone also has a very classic sim card with no special travel feature on offer. This is much cheaper and in my opinion the better choice for backpackers if you stay for more than 2 month. Here are then no more international minutes included, but the whole thing starts much cheaper than the travel sim cards. It is also monthly and you can disable the plan just a few days before it renews. And if you stay in the same plan, you can even take the last months leftover the remaining data / free text / free minutes from the previous month. That means if you need a little less this month but still have the plan in the next month, then you have not lost anything you paid before. We loved the carry over and used it every time when we didn’t travel too much.

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A special feature of Vodafone is the “Fantastic Friday”. If you download the app My Vodafone New Zealand on your phone, there are 3 crazy offers every Friday from which you can choose. Some of it are free of charge; other things are associated with costs. It looks like you can see in the screenshot shown here.


Screenshot of the Fantastic Fridays App Screen

Vodafone Fantastic Friday Deals


You can buy Vodafone sim cards in most supermarkets and the Vodafone shops.

All plans and prices you can see on the Vodafone New Zealand website.


Spark also has a sim card called Travel Pack. Similar to the Vodafone package, this includes free minutes and free text to Europe and some other major countries. A special feature is also available at Spark. Spark also operates telephone booths in all major cities and towns. At these telephone booths in pink, all locations are shown in an app; you can consume 1GB data per day via WLAN. Ideal for extensive searches with the laptop or long skype calls home.


Of course, Spark also has a classic SIM card on offer. This sim card is aimed more at backpackers and is cheaper than the travel version. Like Vodafone, free minutes and text messages to other countries do not apply here.


You can buy Spark sim cards in most supermarkets and the spark shops.

All plans and prices you can see on the Spark New Zealand website.


Make your choice

Of course you still have to make the choice. For me personally, it was more important to have good reception everywhere and I chose the 19 NZD Vodafone package in Auckland. I didn’t use too much data while travelling because of the free wifi's at libraries or café’s.

The availability of Wi-Fi at the telephone booth of Spark was just of limited importance to me. But I know exactly as many people use the Spark as Vodafone users. It's more of a personal favor, I believe. Unfortunately I didn’t know Skinny direct while I was travelling. So next time I would probably choose Skinny direct.

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If you complete the whole mobile phone stuff in Auckland or Christchurch, the staff of Vodafone or Spark can also help you with the setup. So in case of any trouble, they can have a look on your phone and why it is not working. There are Backpackers here every day and everything went smoothly, although my phone was in German and the lady probably didn’t understand my German. Thumbs up for the Vodafone Shop in Auckland on Queen Street!


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