Roaming vs Local SIM: Which is Your Best Option While Visiting New Zealand

buying a NZ sim card

New Zealand has always been known for its natural wonders, untouched forests, and beautiful people. Recently, however, its tourism has received a boost with the success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit movies. People were enamoured with the seemingly mystical village of Hobbiton, and they were excited to know that it is an actual destination in New Zealand that is drawing 600,000 tourists a year. The country itself welcomes more than four million tourists a year, which might not seem much, but the number is already equivalent to its total population.

If you are visiting the country, you need to tick off your to-do list. After booking your flight and accommodation, you will also need to list down your itinerary to allocate time to visit the popular attractions. Then you need to set up your budget. There are plenty of travel blogs of people who had a grand time in New Zealand and shared their total expenses during their visit there. 

However, some people just activate their roaming charges when they visit the country instead of buying a NZ sim card

Here are the pros and cons of the two options:


When it comes to cost, there is no competition between roaming and a local SIM card. For instance, for Australia, Vodafone’s Pay as You Go roaming charges would set you back a dollar for every minute of call, regardless of whether you are receiving or making the call. You will also pay $0.75 for every text message you sent, although there is no charge when you get an SMS.

Finally, you will pay $1 for every MB of data, which can rack up pretty quickly since you almost always use your data when trying to find your hotel, using Google Map, upload your photos on social media, email your office, and other activities. 

In contrast, with a NZ sim card, the local calls and texts are unlimited. You can also browse the Internet as you please. On average, you will only spend about $2 per day on your communication expenses.


The reason why Australians activate their roaming is due to convenience. They can do so in the comforts of their home, as they will only follow the instructions from their service provider. 

However, the local prepaid card is not far behind in terms of convenience. You can buy the sim online and pick it up upon your arrival. They can also send you the card to your address if you buy a few days before your scheduled departure. 


Going online would be the most expensive part of your roaming charges. For example, you will use about 8-11 MB of data when you watch YouTube video at medium resolution. That’s easily a cost of $10 per minute. Facebook, meanwhile, will use 1.5 MB of data per minute. 

With a local SIM card, you can choose from the different packages, and each one has a data cap. If you use your data judiciously, you will still have plenty of credit left when you leave the country.


There are several benefits to buying a prepaid sim card when you visit New Zealand. Now, you do not have to worry about checking your roaming expenses every now and then, and you can focus on enjoying your trip.

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