Roaming in New Zealand: the best local SIM card for travellers

By Chris C., March 17 2016
Roaming in New Zealand: the best local SIM card for travellers

New Zealand is Australia’s most popular international destination, with over one million trans-Tasman trips made every year – so what's the best way to keep in touch across the pond?

Vodafone Australia subscribers enjoy free roaming in New Zealand under a radical twist to the carrier's 'Roam like home' scheme, while Optus and Telstra rely on cost-extra travel packs starting at $10 per day for 50MB of data (Optus) or $15 for three days with 225MB (Telstra).

Those roaming fees can be bearable on short trips where you'll be staying in the cities and can make the most of free WiFi – as well as still being contactable on your Aussie number, of course.

But for longer visits to The Land of the Long White Cloud, a local pre-paid SIM can be your best bet.

We've surveyed the scene and rate Vodafone NZ’s raft of pre-paid deals for your visit to Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and beyond.

The carrier's NZ Travel SIM can be purchased from Vodafone New Zealand on arrival at the airport – not from Vodafone Australia before you depart – with the entry-level pack costing NZ$29 (A$25.60).

You’ll get 500MB of 4G data plus 200 minutes of calls to numbers in New Zealand, Australia and 15 other countries and 200 text messages to the same, all to use within 30 days.

Need more data? The NZ$49 (A$43.43) pack gives you 3GB of data along with the same call and SMS inclusions with a 60-day expiry.

Vodafone New Zealand has some other appealing options beyond its travel line-up, such as pre-paid deals aimed at its home NZ market but still available to Aussies and other foreigners.

For example, the ‘Prepay Carry Over $29’ plan delivers 1GB of 4G data, 200 minutes of calls to Australian and New Zealand numbers and unlimited SMS to the same for use within 30 days.

That makes it a better deal than the $29 Travel SIM if your calls will be limited to Australia and New Zealand, and it makes more sense for regular visitors to NZ.

It’s a little fiddly to arrange as you first need to load regular pre-paid credit onto your account and then activate the plan which is deducted from that credit, but for longer stays where you’ll want to carry over any unused inclusions, it’s definitely worth the extra effort.

Also read: The best local SIM card for UK-bound travellers

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 704

You know it's messed up when it's cheaper to buy a Vodafone AU month to month plan for one month then buy a Sim in NZ.

AU$40 will get you 3GB data, Unlimited Calls and Unlimited Txt's in both Australia and New Zealand which you can cancel after the trip.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jul 2014

Total posts 100

For the past few years i have used a sim card from 2 degrees

They have plenty of retail shops and there is an outlet at Auckland Airport just  away from the main terminal

I usually get a carry over combo pack for $19 and you can call Australia and NZ  Mobiles and landlines for 100 minutes  and  you also get 500mb of data

Text is generous.

I usually just go to  a shop and pay cash or phone from Aus to top up my account


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Jul 2011

Total posts 186

The hotel we stayed in last time in AKL had free 2 Deg sim cards are check in.  We had already bought sims at the airport, but I did think it was a great idea having them are reception.

20 Feb 2014

Total posts 7

You can get a free 2 degrees Sim from Mercure Hotels in Auckland CBD (60 Queen and 8 Customs) or even from the Airbus running from AKL airport to downtown. Otherwise its sold sans credit at convenience stores. 


19 Sep 2013

Total posts 197

Surprised the $29 Spark SIm wasn't mentioned - with 1.5 GB and very good coverage everywhere, I thought that it was a good deal.

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2482

Hi grov, the Spark $29 prepaid value pack now includes 750MB of mobile data per month but 2GB of Wi-Fi per day (using actual wireless hotspots if you can find them and remain close by, not true mobile data), and the talk (150 mins) and text (unlimited) inclusions are to NZ numbers only – so it's great if you have lots of local suppliers to keep in touch with, but being an Australian publication, we figured that the majority of Aussie travellers doing business in NZ would still want to keep in touch with the office and loved ones back home, so highlighted something that let you keep in touch with both AU and NZ numbers. :)

24 Sep 2017

Total posts 1

I want to pick up a sim card from Auckland airport but my flight doesn't get in until 6.30 pm. Are you able to assist with opening hours at airport please?

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