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Taking a mobile phone on the Kiwi Raid?

posted Jan 11, 2016, 8:04 PM by Martin Riddle   [ updated Jan 12, 2016, 1:52 PM by Posts Editor ]

I thought it might be useful to share our experience of travelling with mobile phones. The options are:

·         Leave your phone behind, forget the rest of the world and remind yourself how frustrating life could be when you tried to meet up with someone in a strange place before the days of mobile phones

·         Get a local SIM card from a NZ telco

·         Enable global roaming on your phone using your Australian telco


Advantages of getting a local NZ SIM card:

·         Much cheaper than using global roaming supplied by your Australian telco

·         Some Australian telco’s don’t offer global roaming (e.g. Aldimobile)

·         If you have a smart phones that can be used as a mobile hotspot the one pre-paid plan can be used to provide phone/sms and internet access


Disadvantages of local NZ SIM card:

·         When your Australian SIM card is not in your phone you will not receive calls/sms made to your Australian number

·         Requires a bit of messing around to initially set up


Advantages of global roaming:

·         Simple to use – just enable global roaming in the phone set-up

·         You will still have your Australian mobile number

·         You will still receive calls/sms sent to your Australian number (but will pay extra to get them)

·         Some Australian telcos offer ‘International travel packs’ for both phone and data – simple but more expensive than getting a local SIM


Disadvantages of global roaming:

·         Can get expensive – especially if you access the internet a lot and so use a lot of mobile data

·         You will be charged for calls you receive from Australia


If you are going to put a NZ Sim in your phone the phone must be ‘unlocked’ – i.e. able to use a SIM card from any company and not locked to a particular telco. If you bought your phone under a plan from a telco such as Telstra it will probably be locked. If so, your options are either to try to get it unlocked – good luck – or settle for global roaming.


When travelling we normally get a local sim card for our smart phones and use the phone as a ‘mobile hotspot’ to provide wifi for any other devices we might bring (lap-top/ipad etc). To keep control of mobile data use we would normally have ‘mobile data’ turned off in ‘Settings’ and use free wifi where possible. We only turn on ‘mobile data’ when we need to access the internet and are not within range of free wifi – this stops the pre-paid mobile data being used in the background for up-dating Apps or synchronising the phone etc.


You will be limited to using ‘pre-paid’ SIM cards rather than the cheaper ‘Plans’ unless you have a bank account/credit card registered to an address in the country you are visiting. Although more expensive than a local ‘Plan’ the pre-paid SIM will still be much cheaper than global roaming charges.


New Zealand mobile phone networks:


·         Vodaphone

·         Spark (formerly Telecom NZ)

·         2Degrees


There are also other mobile phone providers that use these networks such as Skinny


Some web sites offer ‘NZ tourist’ SIM cards typically for $45 or more - a local NZ SIM card should cost less than NZ$10 – probably $2-$5. For NZ$20 you should get a SIM card plus some calls and some data. Some web sites talk about free tourist SIM cards available at tourist centres – I can’t confirm this but it is likely as the cost of making SIM cards is very small – the telcos make their money from selling their network services not the SIM cards.


Examples of pre-paid plans that last for 30 days can be found at:


Based on a quick search of their on-line coverage maps all appear to have fairly similar 3G coverage in the Hauraki Gulf – I will check with the Kiwi Raid organisers whether they have any local knowledge that we should know