Mobile Internet access in New Zealand?

cape reingaI am thinking about a trip to New Zealand with the family (my wife is a Kiwi). As a microISV I need Internet access to keep the business running. I might be able to rent accommodation with broadband or find Internet cafes, but I would like to have mobile Internet access as a back-up. Unfortunately it looks as if my UK mobile Internet provider doesn’t even support roaming in NZ. Even if I swap to another UK provider, roaming costs would probably be prohibitive.

Ideally I would like to just rent a data card in NZ for a month. But a search on Google turned up nothing, apart from one service apparently only available to Australians. My only other thought is to ask one of my wife’s relatives to sign up with for their ‘no term’ mobile broadband plan, then cancel at the end of the trip. I will probably have to buy a new data card as well, as I doubt my Three Networks Huawei USB modem and SIM would work with Vodaphone NZ.

Any Kiwis reading this? Suggestions would be welcome.

10 thoughts on “Mobile Internet access in New Zealand?

  1. Mark McLaren

    I’m in exactly the same situation here in Australia. Funny thing is my UK supplier is “3”, which also has a branch in Australia but doesn’t support data roaming!

    There’s definitely a business selling short-term mobile internet access here.

  2. Alan

    To put things in perspective, I often travel whilst running a MicroISV. You’d be surprised at how much you can leave it to run itself for a month. Try and make it so that you can just get by with email support. Then you don’t need broadband, nor do you need to be tied to one place (why go to New Zealand just to stay in one place, there is a world of adventure there). All you need is internet cafes or local dialup.

    A month in New Zealand is a once in a lifetime opportunity that running an ISV has given you. Make the most of it.

  3. Andy Brice Post author

    >You’d be surprised at how much you can leave it to run itself for a month.

    I have worked hard to get a great reputation for customer service – I don’t intend to let that slide.

    >Try and make it so that you can just get by with email support.

    That is the plan, but broadband makes it much more pleasant.

    >why go to New Zealand just to stay in one place, there is a world of adventure there

    Having a 2 year old restricts how mobile and adventurous you can be.

    >A month in New Zealand is a once in a lifetime opportunity

    It will be my fourth time (assuming we make it). ;0)

  4. Amjith

    When I went to New Zealand for a week, my host had something exactly like how you described. I went to Napier where he was located and I remember using his laptop in Napier as well as in Auckland. He said he paid for a card that goes month-to-month. Unfortunately I don’t have the name of the provider, but he said it is very prevalent in NZ. So ask your wife’s relatives, they might already know. But I think it was called city-wide wireless or something along those lines.
    Quick googling gave me this info:

  5. Ryan

    Data roaming is a total rip off so if you are going for a while and you can get a local SIM that has to be your best bet.

    Alternatively the only decent roaming data plan is Vodafone Travel – 200MB per month *anywhere* for a shocking £95+vat per month. It also gives you X GB back in the UK.

    You can switch between the basic UK plan (which is more expensive than others) and the Travel plan at will to keep the cost a little under control.

    Its a lot of £ for not a lot of MB – but if you travel abroad a lot, and if you move around a lot as you travel – then it could be worth paying to cut out the worry about finding access. $5 for an internet cafe here, $10 for hotel wifi there really add up quick too.

  6. Sean

    You can get cards for coffee shop wireless access. Hotels will normally have wireless, but most charge heavily for the privilege.

    If you have a gsm phone which can act as a modem, or a gsm modem, then you can get a prepay sim card here, or just a normal sim without a contract. Then you can use causal data rates ($1/day for up to 10 meg, really expensive after that) or a data plan (

  7. Sean

    Your existing modem may work, it’s the same brand as the vodafone modems here. Just get a local sim, and a plan without a fixed term.

  8. Andy Brice Post author

    >Just get a local sim

    Forgive my ignorance – but how do I do that? Take one out of a mobile phone? Does it have to be a SIM purchased in NZ?

  9. Roy

    You’ll be disappointed at the (poor) quality of broadband here. Speed is slow, upload particularly so, and outages are not infrequent.

    Vodafone and Telecom have the mobile data market tied up; coverage (in built-up areas) is pretty good for both and neither has a particularly good reputation for customer service. is another option, but in my experience their customer service is even worse than the two main players.

    You will be able to buy a Vodafone SIM (and dongle if required) on arrival here — if there isn’t a kiosk at the airport there are stores in every mall. Data costs are here:

    A number of cafes offer quite expensive wireless access; a few cafes and libraries offer unlimited free access. Many motels now offer free broadband, either wireless or wired. Probably wouldn’t hurt to bring a short ethernet patch cable just in case. Major towns have internet cafes.


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