Travel the world

Internet Access In New Zealand

Caveats or Disclaimers to this post:

  • The whole concept of wide area broadband delivered wirelessly, meaning always available Internet pretty much anywhere, is amazing; a truly remarkable feat of human engineering.
  • For us, access to the Internet is instrumental and fundamental to our ability to travel the world, build our businesses, make phone calls, etc.  Without it, we would be in very different places in our lives.
  • I’m very grateful for any access I have to be able to use the Internet.  At the same time, I need to be able to use it a lot for everything I do on a day-to-day basis.  After living in Argentina in 2008, I expected to have difficulty with it in Central and South America.  I’m surprised to be having difficulty with access to the Internet here in New Zealand.

In the United States, I used to pay USD $55/month for very fast Internet through the TV Cable.

That $55/month gave me relatively unlimited access to upload and download from the Internet.

Here in New Zealand it doesn’t work that way.

You pay for a plan, which includes a certain amount of bandwidth usage per month.

If you overrun your bandwidth usage, you are charged per megabyte, or your Internet speed slows to dial-up speed for the rest of the month, or a combination thereof.

If you sign longer term contracts, you can get more usage per month.

For those who don’t know:

  • One 3 minute MP3 (song) is about 3-4 Megabytes.
  • One 3 minute wmv (video) is about 35-45 Megabytes.

Since we are visitors to New Zealand, we haven’t (and won’t be able to) set up a long-term contract.

Our only option is to get a wireless stick, which gives us Wi-Fi access pretty much in all the populous parts of New Zealand (in theory).

The two companies you can choose to get a wifi stick through here in NZ are Vodafone and Telecom.

Seeing very little difference between the two, and having a good experience with a Telecom representative in Auckland who told us that Telecom has much better coverage on the South Island (where we are now, in Christchurch), we chose Telecom.

However, the Telecom plan only gives you 500MB of upload and download for NZD $30.

If we make two decent quality videos (that are 3-4 minutes each), upload them, check them on YouTube to make sure they’re working, and then check email, we’ve used up 100MB in less than an hour.

Remember, we only get 500 MB/month for NZD $30.  We can buy 500 MB more within a month for NZD $30.  Beyond that, we are charged NZD .20/MB, or NZD $100/500MB.

Here’s our recent experience:

Yesterday, our wifi stick quit three weeks after buying it.  Trying to get it fixed is an adventure in itself, but that’s not the point of this post.

Because our wifi stick died, we went to a coffee shop to upload videos.  The second video quit uploading at 84% complete.


The free wifi at the coffee shop only lasts 1 hour or up until 60MB, and then dies.

I used up the 60 MB in less than 40 minutes, uploading not even two videos, and checking email.

I could have paid more for more Internet usage, but the point is that it’s a pay-to-play situation here, as opposed to a pay-once-play-all-you-want situation like it is in the US.


The person we’re renting through is setting up Internet access for us at the apartment with a higher upload/download amount, and Matt and Nicole are nice enough to let us use their Wifi until then, but it’s still a bit inconvenient until it’s set up in our apartment.

We’ll also get our wifi stick working again.

However, if in your part of the world, you have unlimited high-speed Internet usage, and you pay only a flat rate for that usage (even if it’s quite expensive), be grateful.

It’s not that way here in New Zealand.

2 thoughts on “Internet Access In New Zealand

  1. Werner Legoullon

    I’ve been checking your blog for a while now, seems like everyday I learn something new 🙂 Thanks

  2. Natasha

    Hi, just stopped by doing some research for my San Jose 4g website. Can’t believe the amount of information out there. Not what I was looking for, but interesting page. Have a nice day.

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