Use Cell Phone in New Zealand for Tourists 2024: How to Do It?

Having an Internet connection while traveling in New Zealand makes it easier to stay in touch with your loved ones back home and use maps and delivery or communication apps. You can choose to use cell phone in New Zealand to access the Internet via many different options like SIM card, eSIM, pocket Wifi, etc. Check out this essential guide to find out all about these alternatives!

I. Highlights of Phone Compatibility, Frequencies, and Network in New Zealand

Here is an overview of New Zealand’s phone compatibility, frequencies, and networks:

Phone compatibility: Most US, Canadian, European, Australian, and Asian phones will work in New Zealand. Phones must be unlocked and support the correct frequencies used here. It is best to check with your phone provider to ensure compatibility.


  • New Zealand mainly uses GSM (2G), UMTS (3G), and LTE (4G) networks.
  • Main frequencies: 900/1800 MHz for 2G and 800/2100 MHz for 3G and 4G.


  • Major carriers: Spark, Vodafone, 2degrees. They all use the GSM and UMTS networks. 
  • Coverage is excellent in cities and main roads. Check carrier maps if traveling to more remote areas which may have patchy or no service.
  • Data roaming charges may be high without a local SIM. Consider a prepaid data bundle if you need data when traveling around New Zealand.

II. Use Cell Phone in New Zealand – Will My Phone Work?

Yes. You can use cell phone in New Zealand and access the Internet to stay in touch with your loved ones, use navigation and delivery apps, and share your best moments on social media.

You can use your cell phone in New Zealand and connect to the Internet
Use cell phone in New Zealand

Nevertheless, it is essential to confirm the following things before your trip to New Zealand:

  • Check if your cell phone has open cellular bands as this will allow you to connect to local New Zealand networks instead of just your home carrier’s overseas roaming services. Roaming can be very expensive. 
  • Compare your home network’s frequencies with those used by carriers in New Zealand. This will give you an idea of expected internet speeds.

The table below lists the specific frequency bands and ranges used locally in New Zealand:

GSM Frequencies3G Frequencies4G/LTE Frequencies5G Frequencies
Spark900MHz; 1800MHz2100MHz (Band 1); 900MHz (Band 8)1800Mhz (Band 3)2600Mhz (Band 7)3500MHz (n78)
2degrees900MHz; 1800MHz900MHz; 2100MHz700MHz; 900MHz; 1800MHz3500MHz (n78)
One (former Vodafone)900MHz; 1800MHz900MHz; 2100MHz700MHz (Band 28); 1800MHz (Band 3); 2600MHz (Band 7)3500MHz (n78)

III. Do I Need an International Plan in New Zealand?

Yes, definitely. You do need an international plan for your trip to New Zealand. This is the most convenient way to stay online while abroad. However, if you use overseas roaming services from your home carrier, you may have to incur expensive prices.

You need an international plan in New Zealand
You need an international plan for mobile internet in New Zealand

There are still many options to get Internet at reasonable rates such as eSIM, physical SIM card for New Zealand, pocket Wifi, etc. Tourists in New Zealand can also connect to the Wifi for Internet access. Nevertheless, it is rather insecure and only available in some hot spots like hotels, restaurants, cafes, etc.

IV. What are International Plan Options to Use Cellphones in New Zealand for Tourists?

Some of the most popular international plan options to use cell phone in New Zealand include eSIM plan, international SIM card, and pocket Wifi. Let’s delve into each option’s features and where to buy.

1. eSIM Plan for New Zealand

eSIM for New Zealand is a great option to stay connected
You can use an eSIM to stay online while traveling in New Zealand

eSIM for New Zealand is a digital SIM that can be downloaded and activated before your visit. To use eSIM, you just need to have an eSIM-compatible mobile device. Once activated, eSIM allows you to have unlimited data with customizable periods to travel in New Zealand.

Suitable for: eSIM-supported cell phones

Where to get eSIM for New Zealand: download and activate online from the websites of reliable eSIM providers before departure

Pros: no physical SIM card needed, no risk of SIM loss or damage, simple online activation process, affordable rates, multiple eSIM plan optionsCons: limited trusted eSIM provider options

Important Note:  You can choose to use eSIM if your mobile phone is compatible with eSIM.

2. International SIM card for New Zealand

A physical SIM card for New Zealand is a great option to get online
Choose a physical SIM card to get online in New Zealand

A physical SIM card for New Zealand is a great option with the most budget-friendly calling and data fees. An international SIM for New Zealand is a small chip that you may insert into your device and works similarly to the SIM you use in your home country.

Suitable for: any unlocked mobile phone

Where to buy SIM card for New Zealand: main carrier stores, kiosks at airports upon arrival, or online before you travel.  

Pros: various SIM card plans, cheap local rates

Cons: risk of SIM physical damage or loss

3. Pocket Wifi

You may use a pocket Wifi to get Internet in New Zealand
Rent a pocket Wifi to get Internet in New Zealand

Pocket Wifi is an option preferred by many tourists when visiting New Zealand. It is a small portable wireless hotspot that transmits Internet signals to different devices connected to it. You may have to pay for the plan you get, device rental, accessories, and device rental.

Suitable for: visitors who travel in New Zealand in a group 

Where to buy Pocket WiFi for New Zealand: technology shops, rental websites, rental shops at the airports.

Pros: the ability to connect various devices like phones, tablets, and laptops.

Cons: expensive rental charges, extra items to carry, have to charge regularly.

V. Will My Local Network Work in New Zealand?

Most likely possible. Most home mobile carriers allow their users to use international roaming services. You may use your regular mobile phone services from home when traveling in New Zealand but it is not always the best option due to pricey roaming rates. If you do not monitor your texting, calling, and data consumption during your New Zealand trip, you will have to incur a shockingly expensive phone bill after you come back to your home country. The roaming charges depend on the policies of your home carrier.

Pro Tip: To prevent unexpected charges, it is advised to purchase a New Zealand prepaid SIM or an eSIM for the best value. To use eSIM for New Zealand, ensure your phone is one of the phones in this list of eSIM-supported devices.

VI. Gigago eSIM – An Alternative to Get Internet in New Zealand with your Cell Phone

Gigago offers a lot of competitive eSIM plans for tourists to New Zealand
Gigago eSIM plans for New Zealand

We already know that eSIM is the finest alternative to get online in New Zealand with your phone thanks to its flexibility, affordability, and great value. If you are seeking a prestigious eSIM provider for your visit to New Zealand, GIGAGO would be the best choice. Gigago offers a range of benefits for tourists such as:

  • No store visit, no identity check
  • 100% online eSIM download and activation
  • 24/7 support available in many languages such as English, French, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, etc.
  • A diverse variety of eSIM packages for New Zealand: Gigago’s eSIM plans for New Zealand begin at 1GB a day for 5 days at only $10.50 and range from $10.50$141.50 . Thus, regardless of how long your journey in New Zealand is and how much GB of data you consume, Gigago always has the best package for you.

VII. Extra Tips to Use Cell Phone in New Zealand

Here are some extra handy tips to use cell phone in New Zealand effectively:

  • Consider buying a local SIM card from one of the main carriers like Spark, 2degrees, or Vodafone or getting an eSIM for New Zealand. This lets you make calls and use data without pricey roaming fees.
  • Turn off your home network’s data roaming before arriving. This prevents unwanted phone bills after your trip.
  • Download maps of areas you will visit before losing the signal. Apps like Google Maps can still guide you online.
  • Check coverage maps if venturing off the beaten path.

VIII. FAQs about Use Cell Phone in New Zealand

Can I use my US or European cell phone in New Zealand?

Yes, most US and European phones will work in New Zealand as long as they are unlocked and support New Zealand’s networks and frequencies. You may need to switch out SIM cards to use cell phone in New Zealand.

How can I purchase a prepaid SIM card in New Zealand?

Prepaid SIM cards from the major carriers can easily be purchased from electronics stores, supermarkets and airports. Make sure to bring your passport or ID for verification.

Are cell phones easily accessible across New Zealand?

Coverage is excellent in cities and main highways but can be spotty in very remote areas. The South Island has slightly less coverage than the North Island overall. Check carrier maps for specific areas.

IX. Final Words

In conclusion, tourists can easily use cell phone in New Zealand by activating roaming with their home carrier but calling, texting, and data usage may incur very expensive rates. To save money and have a smooth experience, it is best to buy a local SIM card or get an eSIM for your New Zealand trip. Remember to choose the option that best suits your needs, trip duration, and budget.