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New Zealand remains the most popular international destination for Australian travellers with no fewer than seven airlines crossing the ditch – but once you arrive, is it worth shelling out for a local SIM card to keep in touch or are you better off roaming using your Australian SIM?
As Australian Business Traveller finds, the roaming rates charged by Telstra, Optus and Vodafone to travellers visiting NZ can actually be lower than what you’d pay for a local SIM card: here’s what it costs to roam with each network, and how that compares to your local options.
Roaming in New Zealand with Telstra
Telstra customers can opt for a money-saving Telstra Travel Pass which provides unlimited calls and SMS to any mobile or landline worldwide (including within New Zealand and to Australia), costing just $5 per day.
There is a slight catch: you’ll need to pay for a minimum of three days at these rates (costing $15), with other fixed-duration options being $35 for seven days, $70 for 14 days or $150 for 30 days.
Connectivity for 21 days, for instance, could be achieved by purchasing and using a 14-day pack, and then buying a further seven days at a total price of $105 ($5/day).
Also included is a data allowance of 75MB per day but which can be used at any time during the validity of each individual travel pack. Using the example above, you’d have 1.03GB to use at any time within those first 14 days, and then a new allowance of 525MB to use within the final seven.
AusBT review: Telstra International Travel Roaming Pass
Roaming in New Zealand with Optus
Jetting abroad with Optus costs $10/day when pre-activating an Optus Travel Pack, mirroring Telstra in offering unlimited calls and SMS within New Zealand and to any country – but instead charged in single-day increments.
Visiting for just two days? That’s an even $20, and with 50MB/day of included data to boot: usable at any time during your visit. If that’s 80MB on day one and 20MB on day two, there’s nothing more to pay.
AusBT review: Optus' Travel Pack for $10/day international roaming
Roaming in New Zealand with Vodafone
Visit New Zealand with a Vodafone Australia SIM and you’d be forgiven for confusing your trans-Tasman hop with a regular domestic flight.
That’s because there’s currently no extra charge to use your regular Australian plan entitlements in New Zealand – whether that’s unlimited calls, SMS, international minutes or your full data allowance, so when your bill arrives it’s as if you’d never left home.
Using a local SIM card in New Zealand
After combing through the country’s various pre-paid deals, we’d pick Vodafone New Zealand’s NZ Travel SIM as the best all-rounder, offered for NZ$29 (A$27.70) with 500MB of data, 200 minutes and 200 SMS messages, including within the country and back home to Australia.
It’s valid for up to 30 days, and if you need more data the similar NZ$49 (A$46.80) option boosts that to 3GB with the same talk and text inclusions, but valid for a longer 60-day period.
Assuming the simple NZ$29 option meets your needs, you’ll find it more cost-effective to roam with Telstra on trips of three days or less; with Optus on trips of 1-2 days and with Vodafone Australia regardless of the length of your stay (up to 90 days total within a calendar year).
But naturally on longer trips – or for Telstra and Optus users requiring more data than the low 50-75MB/day allowance – whacking a local pre-paid SIM into your phone is an easy money-saver.
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