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Communications for Expats in New Zealand

Submitted: October 2014

Mobile Phones

New Zealand’s phone and network infrastructure is generally typical for any industrialised nation; mobile penetration falls at around 125%, and 3G systems across the major networks cover about 97% of the country.  As of 2014, 4G coverage is also largely available, across about 55-59% of the population depending on network.

The main mobile network providers in New Zealand are Vodafone, Skinny, 2degrees and Spark. Pay as you go phones are a good idea if your time in New Zealand will last a year or less, and most providers offer deals where a $20 top up will get you unlimited texts and bonus data or calls for a month on top of the pre-pay value. Consumer TelMe offers a useful and free questionnaire that will compare price plans for your area based on how much you plan to use.

However, if you are living in New Zealand for beyond two years, it may be a good idea to get a contract. Contracts are usually a minimum of 18 or 24 months long, though you may be able to find looser deals that allow you to pay monthly and cancel at any time, such as Vodafone NZ’s Open Term deals. Many contracts will come with a smartphone for either a small deposit sum or even completely free, and many also offer the ability to upgrade your phone for no cost at the end of your contract if you continue it. Be warned that contracts that come with free smartphones can be particularly expensive; a free iPhone 5s or HTC One contract currently costs close to $130 a month. Shop around and consider your options, as it may be far cheaper in the long run to buy a used smartphone and sign up to a SIM only deal, which also provides the benefit of not being locked into a 24-month contract.

Also, it is worth noting that smartphone screens are notoriously easy to crack. Phone insurance provides peace of mind and will facilitate repairs by qualified professionals for either a small excess or free of charge.


The three main providers of line rental in New Zealand are Vodafone, Skinny and Orcon. Line rental is available to 99% of the population, and therefore even if you are moving into a rural area you should still be able to easily get a landline installed.

If you are spending significant time or moving entirely to New Zealand, it is a good idea to get a landline on top of your mobile, as many come with Internet and TV packages and costs for calls are generally low, or even free at weekends and evenings. Some providers also offer deals where you can make free calls to your 5 most called numbers. This page compares line rental and internet packages based on cost and features.


New Zealand has excellent Internet infrastructure, and high-speed fiber optic broadband is being slowly rolled out across the country, though rural areas may require satellite broadband. New Zealand’s government aims to get high-speed fibre optic broadband to 75% of the country by 2019. Depending on your subscriber and area, you may be able to get up to a 200 mb/s connection, which at peak speeds would allow a family to all stream from Netflix in full HD at the same time. Bear in mind that as with all high-speed broadband, the speed advertised is not the speed you will receive constantly, as there will be much fluctuation (especially at peak early evening hours). In actuality, you may often receive half or less than half of the advertised peak speed.

As for Internet subscription, if you are buying a landline it is recommended you get an inclusive broadband deal rather than deal with two separate companies, unless you can save a large sum doing so. As before, Consumer TelMe offers a free comparison questionnaire of different services.

It is worth noting that Vodafone and Spark both offer packages that include broadband, line rental and digital TV (or streaming), allowing you to keep track of your payments easily. Make sure you read the fine print with any broadband package, as many offer a low price that may then double or triple after a certain number of months.




Moving to New Zealand

If you are considering moving to New Zealand or are soon to depart, you can find helpful information and advice in the Expat Briefing dedicated New Zealand section including; details of immigration and visas, New Zealand forums, New Zealand event listings and service providers in New Zealand.


Living in New Zealand

From your safety to shoppingliving in New Zealand can yield great benefits as well as occasional drawbacks.  Find your feet and stay abreast of the latest developments affecting expats in New Zealand with relevant news and up-to-date information.


Working in New Zealand

Working in New Zealand can be rewarding as well as stressful, if you don't plan ahead and fulfill any legal requirements. Find out about visas and passports, owning and operating a company in New Zealand, and general New Zealand culture of the labour market.



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