Best New Zealand SIM Cards for Tourists: Updated Prices & Where to Buy 2024

Heading to New Zealand soon and wondering how to stay connected? Buying a SIM card for New Zealand is the best way to get the Internet for navigating maps, browsing social media, or keeping in touch with your loved ones. Check out this guide to learn where and how to buy New Zealand SIM cards, rates, and the best data packages.

I. Should You Get a SIM Card in New Zealand?

Yes. Prepaid New Zealand SIM cards are the most convenient and budget-friendly way to keep you connected in New Zealand. They will give you the fastest data connection.

To further understand why New Zealand SIM cards are the best choice for Internet access, follow this table:

CriteriaSIM CardPocket WifiInternational Roaming
Availability– Robust coverage- Various carriersBattery life concernsCoverage depends on home carrier
Convenience– Easy online purchase and activation- Immediate use- Cellular data anywhereMultiple devices connectedUse your existing numbers; Roaming charges
PriceAffordableDaily rental feesPricey fees for calls, texts, and data usage
DeviceAny unlocked deviceAdditional rental device, extra accessories to carryYour phone
PrivacyPrivate connectionDevice controls your dataProvider tracks your usage

Important Note:

  • To use New Zealand SIM cards, confirm if your device is unlocked. If your cell device is locked, ask your carrier for help.
  • Opt for a data-only SIM to minimize waste and save money if you do not need to make phone calls or send texts.

II. Types of New Zealand SIM Cards for Tourists – Which One is the Best?

New Zealand SIM cards may be classified:

Based on their forms:

  • Physical SIM: can be installed/ removed physically.
  • eSIM: digital SIM, virtual SIM, built-in to your mobile phone.

Based on their function:

  • Data-only SIM (no phone number included): for data usage (Internet browsing, map navigation, access to communication apps like WhatsApp, Telegram), unable to send SMS or make calls. 
  • Voice + data SIM (phone number included): best for travelers who want the Internet to make calls, send SMS, browse the web, etc.
Physical SIM card and eSIM for New Zealand
Prepaid physical SIM card and prepaid eSIM for New Zealand

Now let us dig into the two types: prepaid physical SIM and prepaid tourist eSIM for New Zealand.

1. Prepaid physical SIM card in New Zealand

A physical New Zealand SIM (nano SIM, micro SIM & mini SIM) is a SIM that exists in the tangible form and may be inserted into or removed from your phone. Travelers to New Zealand may pick a data-only SIM or a voice & data SIM, depending on their needs.

2. Prepaid tourist New Zealand eSIM

eSIM is a chip directly embedded into a cell phone. Unlike a physical SIM, you cannot install or remove a real SIM when switching carriers or packages. eSIM is virtual and has two types of plans (data-only & data + voice).

This table will help you understand more about these types of New Zealand SIM cards for visitors:

Physical prepaid New Zealand SIMPrepaid New Zealand eSIM
Pros– Provided by all carriers in New Zealand
– Reasonable prices
– Online purchase at any time
– Easy online setup
– No risk of damage or loss
Cons– Risk of SIM loss or physical damage when uninstalled
– Unlocked device required- Need to buy offline or wait for delivery
– eSIM-supported smartphones needed

▶ Our recommendation:

Choose a prepaid New Zealand eSIM with data-only plan if you have an eSIM-supported phone and want Internet for entertainment or to stay online via communication apps.

A prepaid local SIM card is great for those who want to keep in touch with loved one in a traditional way (calls, SMS, Internet) at the most reasonable rate.

III. Best New Zealand SIM Card Plans for Tourists and Price

Three major mobile network carriers in New Zealand offer prepaid SIM cards for travelers: Spark, 2degrees, and One (formerly known as Vodafone).

Three major network carriers in New Zealand are Spark, 2degrees, and One (former Vodafone)
Three major network carriers in New Zealand: Spark, 2degrees, and One (former Vodafone)

Good to know: NZD 1 = USD 0.62; USD 1 = NZD 1.62 (updated in February 2024)

1. Best New Zealand Spark SIM Card Plans and Price

  • 2GB data & 300 minutes for 28 days: NZD 20 – USD 13
  • 4GB data & 500 minutes for 28 days: NZD 30 – USD 19
  • 40GB data & unlimited call minutes for 28 days: NZD 80 – USD 51

Insight: Spark provides the most data at a reasonable price. It offers the free “socialiser GBs” that is for X (Twitter) and Facebook.

2. Best New Zealand One SIM Card Plans and Price

  • 1GB data & 100 minutes & unlimited texting for 28 days: NZD 15 – USD 9
  • 1.5GB data & 200 minutes & unlimited texting for 28 days: NZD 20 – USD 12
  • 3GB data & 300 minutes & unlimited texting for 28 days: NZD 30 – USD 18
  • 8GB data & 100 minutes + 100 sms for 28 days: NZD 40 – USD 23

Insight: One gives more data than the other carriers for a similar price at NZD 40. This carrier allows calling/ texting to Australia at no extra cost. It also has cool options that let you build your own NZ prepaid SIM plan. 

3. Best New Zealand 2degrees SIM Card Plans and Price

  • 250MB data & 100 minutes & unlimited sms for 30 days: NZD 10 – USD 6
  • 1.5GB data & 200 minutes & unlimited sms for 30 days: NZD 19 – USD 11
  • 3GB data & 300 minutes & unlimited sms for 30 days: NZD 30 – USD 18

Insight: 2degrees’ plans offer decent data and minutes for the price. Tourists get charged NZD 5 extra for the SIM card registration. This carrier’s New Zealand SIM cards are 5G ready.

Note: The data plans above are subject to change over time so it is advised to confirm with your carrier for the most updated details.

▶ Our recommendation:

While 2degrees and One offer competitive plans, Spark has the most extensive 4G/5G network coverage across New Zealand. Spark also offers generous data plans. Just choose the data plan and carrier that best suits your priorities, needs, and budget.

IV. Where to Buy a Tourist SIM Card for New Zealand?

Now that you know the three major carriers in New Zealand and the data plans offered, it is time to explore where to purchase a New Zealand tourist SIM card. There are several ways to buy a tourist SIM card for New Zealand, as follows:

1. Buy prepaid New Zealand eSIM online before traveling

Getting an eSIM for New Zealand online from reliable providers like Gigago is a great option. You can download and activate eSIM profiles online on your phone via a QR code. This helps save time when you land in New Zealand.

Pros: No store visit, time-saving, instant Internet upon arrival

Cons: eSIM-supported device required

2. Buy physical New Zealand SIM cards at New Zealand airports

Buy physical SIM cards at New Zealand airports
Tourists can buy SIM cards at New Zealand airports

You may choose to get a physical SIM card for your New Zealand trip at main carrier stores or kiosks at major airports such as Auckland or Christchurch.

Pros: easy to get Internet upon arrival

Cons: limited data plan options, higher rates compared to stores outside airports

3. Buy physical New Zealand SIM online

You may order a physical SIM for New Zealand from the websites of major carriers or reliable third-party providers. Then they will deliver your SIM to your home address before your trip. After that, they will let you select the plan and activate your SIM online.

Pros: Convenient, no New Zealand address needed, instant Internet access upon arrival

Cons: delivery fees, delivery delays may occur

4. Buy physical New Zealand SIM cards in the cities

Buy New Zealand SIM card in the cities
Tourists can also buy New Zealand SIM cards in the cities

Visit retail stores of major network carriers like Spark, 2degrees, and One in cities across New Zealand to buy a physical SIM card. Many convenience stores like 7-Eleven, Caltex, etc.

Pros: Widely accessible, multiple choice, affordable prices, staff at major carriers’ official stores have deep knowledge about SIM cards

Cons: Need to locate and then commute to the stores, convenience store staff may not know exactly about New Zealand SIM cards

▶ Our recommendation:

  • If you are a price-conscious tourist with time freedom, it is best to get a SIM card in the cities of New Zealand.
  • If you already have an eSIM-embedded phone, it is advised to get an eSIM from a trusted provider before your trip. Check out our latest list of eSIM-embedded mobile devices.

V. How Much Data Is Enough for a New Zealand Tourist SIM Card?

When choosing the best mobile data plan for a trip to New Zealand, estimating how much data you may need is critical. So what can be done with 1GB of data?

  • Browsing social media for 2 hours
  • Sending or receiving 100-150 messages on WhatsApp
  • Streaming low-quality videos for around 60 minutes
  • Using Google Maps for around 5 hours

The amount of data needed can vary for each tourist depending on their trip duration and their usage habits.

  • Heavy users (stream HD videos, make video calls daily, constantly browse web, play games online): 10GB+/ week
  • Medium users (messages daily, check emails, use maps and average social media, stream HD occasionally): 5-10GB/ week
  • Light users (use maps, send sms, browse the web, check emails): 3-5GB/ week

Pro Tip:

  • To avoid running out of data when traveling in New Zealand, it is recommended to select a higher data amount than you anticipate using. See how much data you need when traveling abroad first so you can choose the best plan for your needs. 
  • Connect to free Wifi at cafes, hotels, etc to save your data for several moments.

VI. New Zealand eSIM – Best Alternative to Physical SIM Cards to Get Internet in New Zealand

Travelers to New Zealand can access the Internet using international roaming, pocket Wifi, free Wifi, physical NZ SIM, etc. Nevertheless, eSIM for New Zealand possesses outstanding perks compared to those options:

  • Convenience: Download and activate a NZ eSIM online on your eSIM-compatible mobile phone before departure. No need to visit stores or wait for delivery.
  • Instant Internet access: Tourists will have Internet access on arrival in New Zealand without needing to find SIM cards.
  • Affordability: eSIM plans for New Zealand are much more budget-friendly than roaming.
  • Secure connection: Tourists with eSIM plans can use a private connection, much more reliable than free Wifi.

Getting a New Zealand eSIM from a prestigious provider like GIGAGO will ensure a cost-effective and smooth Internet connection while traveling.

Gigago offers a lot of affordable eSIM plans for New Zealand
Gigago eSIM plans for New Zealand

Gigago’s eSIM data plan options for New Zealand start at 1GB data/ day for 05 days at only $10.50 , much more affordable than international roaming services. What is incredible about Gigago eSIM is that plan prices range from $10.50$141.50 . Thus, regardless of how long your New Zealand trip is and how much GB of data you consume, Gigago always offers the best plan for you.

VII. Which New Zealand Mobile Networks Are the Best for Tourists?

We already know that there are three major mobile network operators in New Zealand: Spark, 2degrees, and One. Now let us look at the coverage of each carrier to see which one is the best for visitors.

CriteriaSpark2degreesOne (former Vodafone)
SpeedFastFastSuper Fast
eSIM availableNoNoNo

1. Spark

Coverage map of Spark in New Zealand
Coverage map of Spark in New Zealand (nPerf, 2024)

Rank #1

Spark has the most extensive 4G/ 5G coverage across both the North and South Islands according to the map. It has the strongest and most advanced mobile network in New Zealand. Spark’s networks reach major cities as well as most small towns. However, there are still some very remote rural areas that do not get coverage.

2. One NZ (former Vodafone)

Coverage map of One in New Zealand
Coverage map of One in New Zealand (nPerf, 2024)

Rank #2

One New Zealand ranks second with great coverage across New Zealand. Most small towns are covered but the maps still show gaps compared to Spark. The network may sometimes be patchy even in smaller rural communities.

3. 2degrees

Coverage map of 2degrees in New Zealand
Coverage map of 2degrees in New Zealand (nPerf, 2024)

Rank #3

2degrees has the most limited coverage. Their signal is stronger in major population centers like Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. Some countryside and coastal regions may only get coverage on the major highways.

▶ Our recommendation:

In terms of having the strongest signal, Spark is the best carrier to go with. You can stay connected to your maps app or contact people with a robust network signal. For hassle-free Internet access, get a SIM card from Spark. You may also use networks of 2degrees and One as these operators offer great data plans at competitive rates.

VIII. How to Use New Zealand Prepaid SIM Cards and eSIM

You have selected the best network carrier and data plans for your visit to New Zealand. Here is how to get Internet with New Zealand SIM cards and eSIMs.

1. Using prepaid New Zealand SIM cards

Insert New Zealand SIM cards into your mobile phone
Use New Zealand prepaid SIM cards

First, purchase a prepaid New Zealand SIM card. Then:

  • Switch off your mobile phone, insert the SIM card, and switch it back on;
  • Follow the on-screen setup instructions;
  • If needed, enter the mobile network settings to access the Internet;
  • Call the phone number displayed on the SIM card plan to check your account balance and plan details.

2. Setting up and activating New Zealand eSIM

  • Make sure your cellphone supports eSIM and is not locked to any network carrier;
  • Sign up for a New Zealand eSIM plan on the provider’s website;
  • A QR code will be sent to your email. Go to your phone’s eSIM settings menu and scan the QR code;
  • Follow the on-screen prompts to activate your eSIM profile;
  • Restart your phone and the eSIM will then be ready for Internet access within New Zealand.

IX. FAQs about New Zealand SIM Cards

How can I get a SIM card when I arrive in New Zealand?

Major airports and city centers have stores where you can purchase New Zealand SIM cards. The major providers are Spark, Vodafone, and 2degrees – their starter packs are usually under NZD 20 and include data.

Which mobile provider has the best coverage in New Zealand?

All three major providers have extensive coverage across the country including remote areas. Spark and Vodafone tend to have the widest coverage while 2degrees often provides better value plans.

Is a local number needed for transportation/ accommodation bookings in New Zealand?

A local number is not essential but can be helpful for transportation bookings and checking in remotely for accommodation. Hotels and rental companies can also contact you if needed. Having a local SIM means you can stay connected.

X. Conclusion

To wrap up, whether you are staying for a few days or traveling around the country for several weeks, getting New Zealand SIM cards is key to staying connected while exploring New Zealand. The major carriers like Spark, One, and 2degrees all offer affordable plans at the airport or online so you can easily navigate and share the best moments with your loved ones. eSIM is also an excellent option to help you get the most out of your trip to this stunning country.