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carkitter Posts: > 500

Kia Ora!

I hope you enjoy your stay in New Zealand (Aotearoa).
You'll find the Esato New Zealanders thread here but it's a little quiet these days.
The New Zealand dot com website is here.
All Blacks dot com is here


Our country

Auckland Harbour from North Head (extinct volcano)

New Zealand is a smallish country of approx 4.8 million people. We are famously out numbered by sheep by as many as 15:1 at times. Our country comprises of 2 main islands - the North Island and South Island - and 5 main cities: Auckland (a multicultural city where 1/3 of the NZ population live among 50+ extinct volcanoes), Hamilton (a large farming community), Wellington (the capital city and political centre), Christchurch (the Garden City with an English flavour) and Dunedin (popular with students and has a Scottish flavour).
Our national religion is Rugby:

Our favourite dish is Fish and Chips (during summer at the beach):

And the locals are friendly:

The best tourist places are:
Bay of Islands & Northland
Home of Middle Earth
National Parks
Rivers and Coastline
...and anywhere in between.

Mobile Networks
New Zealand has 3 Mobile Networks and a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO).
The Networks are:

Spark NZ is the current version of NZ's original telecommunications company, formerly Telecom NZ. New Zealanders had a love/hate relationship with Telecom over the years but everyone is generally positive towards Spark. Focused toward concerts and music streaming services. Also supplies home broadband and business services.

Vodafone NZ is a subsidiary of the British Vodafone group. Continually the leader in innovation in the NZ telecoms market since arrival in 1997. Current sponsor of the NZ All Blacks and the Vodafone Warriors Rugby League team. Also supplies home broadband and business services.

2 Degrees Mobile is NZs third mobile network. Setup by a partnership of NZ and overseas businesses to rival the virtual monopoly of the big two above and bring real price competition to the market. In rural areas 2DM roams on Vodafone's network seamlessly. A low priced option with great customer service. Also supplies home broadband and some business services.

Skinny Mobile is a MVNO, which is to say that it is a cut-price option for teenagers set up by Spark to rival 2 Degrees.

Spark NZ Visiting NZ coverage map
Vodafone NZ Welcome to NZ coverage map
2 Degrees Mobile Info coverage map
Skinny Mobile Info coverage map

All networks use SIM cards and have their own mobile app for iOS and Android to easily monitor usage & top up balances.

Lie of the land
You can setup roaming with your network back home and connect seamlessly. Or you can purchase a NZ sim card for your phone at the airport and join a NZ network. This is simple to do with no residency requirements or government bureaucracy.
You can buy a mobile phone hassle free in NZ from a network store, from an authorised reseller like a department store or electronics retailer (such as The Warehouse, JB-Hifi, Noel Leemings or Harvey Norman) or parallel imported from one of many phone importers in the large cities (for price comparisons go to

Genuine iPhones are available everywhere but note that some importers and all local community markets should be treated with suspicion. There are no brick and mortar Apple Stores in NZ.

While iPhones are popular, most phones used here are running Android. Samsung are considered cool, Nokia is uncool, and Sony Xperia is largely in the 'what's that?' category. Smartphones are now universally accepted, with featurephones difficult to find.

Internet Connectivity
All schools and Hospitals have a fibre optic connection. Fibre has been rolled out to the large towns and is available to many businesses and residents though some still choose ADSL and VDSL connections. VDSL operates at approx. 55 Mbps download and 29 Mbps upload in Auckland. Unlimited data Home broadband plans are available and affordable and most people stream video from Netflix, Lightbox, Youtube, Google Play and iTunes as opposed to digital terrestrial TV, and DVD rental stores have gone. Unlimited free wifi is available at cafes, petrol stations, hotels and motels everywhere. Spark NZ has replaced the old pay phones with free wifi transmitters for Spark customers to use 1GB free per day.

4G reception is widely available in urban areas with 3G filling in elsewhere and 2.5G/EDGE in rural areas. Due to NZ's remote and mountainous terrain the are still black spots. Super fast 4.5G reception is available in 200 places around the country including Queenstown and 5G is on its way.

Power Supply
NZ uses a 230V power supply which is quite different to the USA and Europe.
The plugs look like this:

...and sockets look like this:

Adapters are widely available at department stores and electrical shops for around NZD$15.00
If you're using a rental car then bring your cigarette-lighter charging cable with you.

Cellphones and Driving
The NZ Government has passed legislation banning the use of handheld mobile phones while driving; this includes txting and calling while holding the phone, but not the use of installed carkits or Radio Telephones (RT's) for commercial purposes. The fine is NZD$80.00 and 20 demerit points are added to a drivers NZ license.

The ban came into force on the 1st November 2009

New Zealand roads are different

Using your overseas Drivers License in New Zealand

Until mid 2018 Apple Inc had no physical presence in NZ and operated as a subsidiary of Apple Australia - as a result, Apple Maps is unreliable in New Zealand while Google Maps is superb. Public transport information is available within both GPS apps and is accurate and useful. We have Uber and also Lime scooters. Public transport in our major cities is not sufficient to cover all your travel needs; most people are dependant on owning a car. Petrol is expensive and forcing people into hybrid cars that kiwis consider uncool. Diesel cars are rare but diesel vans and utes (pickups) are common. Our weather is too unpredictable and extreme for regular use of motorbikes and bicycles. Electric car infrastructure is in it's infancy. Taxis are very expensive, especially to and from the airports. Trains are good in Wellington, good in the few parts of Auckland they reach and ignored elsewhere. Rail infrastructure is being improved after 20 yrs of neglect and 30yrs of mismanagement prior to that.

New Zealand is a long way away from everywhere. Please plan to rest or sleep overnight in your arrival city before jumping into a rental car and driving on unfamiliar roads to your destination. Be aware, we drive on the LEFT side of the road like the UK, Japan and Australia.

Be safe, enjoy your holiday!
Many tourists in New Zealand (having travelled through other more dangerous places) let their guard down and get caught out. New Zealand is a politically stable and corruption-free society but we suffer the same level of crime as other western countries such as the US, Britain and Australia. It is possible to have everything stolen within 2hrs of arrival. Please apply common-sense when travelling, especially if hitchhiking, walking in the bush or mountains, or enjoying watersports.

News websites
New Zealand Herald
TV1 News

Buy and sell
TradeMe is to NZ what eBay is overseas (we don't have a Craigslist equivalent). You can buy new and used goods, from clothing and childrens toys to vehicles and houses. Everyone uses TradeMe and virtually nothing else. Apps available for iOS and Android.

Banking and Insurance
Bank Accounts are easy to open in NZ so long as you have ID. The major banks are ASB Bank ANZ Bank Bank of New Zealand Kiwibank and Westpac.
EFTPOS is everywhere and wireless payment is common but Apple Pay and Google Pay are still rare. Small shops often don't accept credit cards though restaurants and tourist spots always do.

Travellers insurance and car insurance is optional but recommended.


Best Summer Music Festivals:
Rhythm and Vines Gisborne, North Island
Splore East Auckland, NI
Northern Bass Northland, NI
WOMAD New Plymouth, NI
Soundsplash Raglan, NI
Electric Avenue Christchurch, South Island
Laneways Auckland City, NI
Auckland City Limits Auckland City, NI
Homegrown Wellington, NI

NZ Timezone = London +12:00hrs
Autumn = March/April/May
Winter = June/July/August
NZ Ski Season
Spring = September/October/November
Summer = December/January/February (yes, Xmas at the beach!)
Summer Daylight Savings Time approx October to March +1:00hr (entire nation)

Statuatory holidays
School terms and holidays

Radio stations and frequencies
Top 40/Pop
ZM The Edge
R&B/Hip Hop
Flava Mai FM
Female/Easy Listening/Classic
The Hits Coast Mix More FM The Breeze The Sound Magic
Radio Hauraki The Rock bFM Student Radio
George FM
Newstalk ZB Radio Sport Radio Live Radio NZ National
Auckland Chinese Radio
Indian/Pacific Islands
Tarana Niu FM
Radio Streaming Apps
iHeartRadio Rova

Well, that's pretty much it!

This thread was started on 5th August 2009 (the date that 2 Degrees Mobile launched in NZ) and things are constantly changing here as VodafoneNZ drives the technology race, 2 Degrees Mobile drives a price war and Telecom NZ (now Spark) just drives us nuts! I'll do my best to keep this post updated, but if you have any questions, please feel free to PM me as I'm not on this site as often as I used to be.
Enjoy your visit to New Zealand!

Best regards,
carkitter and the NZ Esato Members

Edit: Last update 6 December 2018
[ This Message was edited by: laffen on 2009-08-25 12:15 ]

[ This Message was edited by: carkitter on 2018-12-07 08:11 ]

Posted: 2009-08-04 16:28:17
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mutleyboy Posts: > 500

excellent post and very informative, especially as im considering applying for a working holiday visa through the website to come to new zealand for a year.

Posted: 2009-11-02 22:47:14
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Muhammad-Oli Posts: > 500

Good stuff mate. Might see you here then!

Any reason why you chose New Zealand?

@carkitter: Why is your post edited by Laffen?
Posted: 2009-11-03 00:29:25
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mutleyboy Posts: > 500

I feel the New Zealand people have a similar sort of outlook to Welsh people, from what I have heard from New Zealanders who have settled here in Wales they say it is similar and things like passion for the rugby and etc is very similar, just thought it would be a great place to spend a year
Posted: 2009-11-03 11:41:16
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carkitter Posts: > 500

On 2009-11-03 00:29:25, Muhammad-Oli wrote:
@carkitter: Why is your post edited by Laffen?

Because I added some information, pressed submit and found that 25% of the original post was missing.
After a PM to Masseur I contacted Laffen and he found I'd posted a link with a

I'm glad you found this post informative. All feedback gratefully recieved.
Posted: 2009-11-08 21:48:13
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xxambad4fellaxx Posts: 124

Very informative post. At least i have learned something about your country even if your country is a long way off from ours. Thanks!:)
Posted: 2010-03-27 09:51:00
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carkitter Posts: > 500

Updated with new Blackberry info, iPhone 4/iPad info and data speed increases from Vodafone.
Posted: 2010-07-23 15:56:12
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carkitter Posts: > 500

duplicte post removed
[ This Message was edited by: carkitter on 2010-07-23 15:19 ]

Posted: 2010-07-23 16:14:49
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carkitter Posts: > 500

Updated with new 3G information and 3G prepay price comparison chart (Google Docs link), and a whole pile of images near the top.
[ This Message was edited by: carkitter on 2010-08-03 17:24 ]

Posted: 2010-08-03 09:53:25
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carkitter Posts: > 500

Updated with some data on RWC v Christchurch Eartquake situation.
Posted: 2011-02-27 03:03:33
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