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Thread: Cell Phone Illiterate

  1. #1
    duane1x's Avatar
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    Default Cell Phone Illiterate

    So we're going over mid September for a look around and I'm thinking it would be nice to have a cell phone - both to call back home and check on the kiddos, and to call round in NZ for whatever is the issue of the day. Strictly utilitarian, I couldn't care less what it looks like, so long as it works.

    I have had the same phone for a long time here in the US - probably a cheap model that came free with the plan. I use it as little as possible. Don't like talking on the cell phone that much I guess.

    Can someone explain about these prepaid SIM cards and unlocked phones? I see I can buy an unlocked GSM phone on ebay for around $50. A lot of them carry the disclaimer, make sure it works with your provider prior to purchasing. Is it safe to say that I can buy just about any GSM phone or is it possible I'd get over to NZ and it wouldn't work? Also I see something about 3G phones - is that a whole different animal?

    Now for the SIM card - I see a prepaid card I can buy online. It is with Vodafone. So I would be accessing Vodafone's network I guess. The rates are .49NZ off peak and .89NZ peak hours - sound about right?

    Last of all, is coverage pretty good across the islands? We'll be driving from Auckland down to Christchurch and hitting many spots along the way so I'll get to test this out

    I know that's a lot of questions but probably quite basic stuff for anyone familiar with the phones over there. Any advice appreciated.

  2. #2
    KiwiHopeful's Avatar
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    I'm going to go out on a limb here, and hopefully someone else will weigh in to ...

    I don't see a real reason to buy a cell phone before you come here, especially if you're just looking for a basic model. You can buy one here for $99NZ, or even cheaper if you can get one on sale. That way, you'll know 1) it will work and 2) it isn't stolen.

    We are using a pre-pay plan which you can load with as little as $10. The rates sound the same as what you list. We use it pretty rarely, too, which is quite a change for us since in the US all we ever used were our cells--we didn't even have a landline! People here seem to text all the time and use their cell phones for calls rarely.

    Here are a couple of useful links:

    New Zealand Coverage maps - Coverage & Roaming - Vodafone NZ

    Visiting New Zealand regularly? - Coverage & Roaming - Vodafone NZ
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  3. #3
    moggy's Avatar
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    I worked for a cell phone rental company for 6 years before moving to NZ

    US phones will not work in NZ, not nextel, nor any other US phone, it is a completely different system.

    Unlocked phones are a bit pointless to buy in NZ.

    Only vodafone phones have sim cards, the rest are telcom ones and do not have sim cards, so no reason to unlock them

    as the previous poster says a new phone will cost $99 or less, so don't waste your money on a second hand one for $50, who knows what battery life it will have.

    There is also the option of renting a phone if you are fairly sure that you will not be coming back to NZ, it may or may not work out cheaper than buying a phone. There are several companies out there (including the last place I worked at in the UK, they have offices in USA) that can do this for you.

  4. #4
    moggy's Avatar
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    Oh, if you head out to Banks Peninsula, (eg Akaroa) forget about coverage, it just doesn't happen.

  5. #5
    LilAmy's Avatar
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    Hi,

    We brought both our UK handsets over from the UK and were lucky enough not to need them unlocked.

    We bought a Vodafone prepay pack for $35 which included $5 or $10 already in it and if you register online you get an extra $15 added to your account.

    Texts from memory are about 40-50c per text and just under $1 I think for calls.

    Vodafone coverage is OK as well for us as we've travelled both islands with our mobiles and only had a few instances where we've lost a signal. I think from what I can gather Telecom is better for the remoter areas but I could be wrong.

    You can buy Prepay Packs which include the Sim card and new moby number from all mobile phone shops and electrical shops.

    Hope this helps

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