Communications

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Communications

Internet

Traveling with a laptop does not present any problems in New Zealand, where the electricity supply is reliable. However, you will need a converter and adapter as with other electronic equipment. It pays to carry a spare battery and adapter, since they're expensive and can be hard to replace.

City hotels, provincial hotels, and motels are well equipped to handle computers and modems. You may get a little stuck in family-run B&Bs and farm stays in remote areas, but even these places can usually sort something out for you.

The Cybercafes Web site lists more than 4,000 Internet cafés worldwide.

Contacts

Cybercafes (www.cybercafes.com.)

Phones

The country code for New Zealand is 64. When dialing from abroad, drop the initial "0" from the local area code. Main area codes within New Zealand include 09 (Auckland and the North), 04 (Wellington), and 03 (South Island). Dialing from New Zealand to back home, the country code is 1 for the United States and Canada, 61 for Australia, and 44 for the United Kingdom. The prefixes 0800 and 0867 are used for toll-free numbers in New Zealand.

Dial 018 for New Zealand directory assistance. For international numbers, dial 0172. To call the operator, dial 010; for international operator assistance, dial 0170. To find phone numbers within New Zealand go to the White Pages Web site www.whitepages.co.nz.

Calling Outside New Zealand

To make international calls directly, dial 00, then the international access code, area code, and number required. The country code for the United States is 1.

Access Codes

AT&T Direct (000–911.)

MCI WorldPhone (000–912.)

Sprint International Access (000–999.)

Calling Cards

Most pay phones now accept PhoneCards or major credit cards rather than coins. PhoneCards, available in denominations of NZ$5, $10, $20, or $50, are sold at post offices, dairies (convenience stores), tourist centers, and any other shops displaying the green PhoneCard symbol. To use a PhoneCard, lift the receiver, put the card in the slot in the front of the phone, and dial. The cost of the call is automatically deducted from your card; the display on the telephone tells you how much credit you have left at the end of the call. A local call from a public phone costs 70¢. Don't forget to take your PhoneCard with you when you finish your call or those minutes will be lost—or spent by a stranger.

Telecom has a reliable card called Easy Call, which covers minutes to the United States for as low as 3¢ per minute. You can add minutes to the card by using your credit card; unlike a PhoneCard, you don't need to purchase a new one when you're running out of time. Other phone cards include Kia Ora and Talk 'n' Save (both sold by Compass Phone Cards), which operate in the same way; you can call the United States for as low as 3.9¢ per minute. You can buy these phone cards at gas stations, dairies, and most hostels.

The Net2Phone Direct Calling Card provides an affordable solution by utilizing local access numbers to make calls utilizing the Internet. This is used in the same manner as a regular calling card, but depending upon the area from which you are calling there is sometimes a slight voice delay. This type of technology has also made it possible to make phone calls right from your laptop computer. If you are going to have free access to the Internet, this can prove to be the most affordable means of making international calls, with rates from New Zealand to the United States being approximately 4¢ per minute with Net2Phone's PC2Phone plan. It is advisable to use a headset for the best clarity.

Calling Cards

Compass Phone Cards (0800/646–444 toll-free in New Zealand.)

Telecom Easy Call (0800/789–888 toll-free in New Zealand.)

Mobile Phones

There are both analog and digital mobile-communications networks covering most of New Zealand, which operate on both the GSM and CDMA systems. U.S.-based phones should work, but contact your provider about specific requirements for your phone. If you have a tri-band GSM phone, you can rent a SIM card for about NZ$10 per week. Keep in mind, however, that the phone must be unlocked, so you should be sure to get that number from your provider prior to leaving.

Cell phones can be rented at Auckland, Wellington, Queenstown, and Christchurch airports, starting at NZ$6 a day. Look for a Vodafone stand in the arrival area of each airport. Prior reservations are a good idea, though not absolutely necessary. Make phone-rental arrangements in advance so you can give family and friends your number before you leave.

Roaming fees can be steep: 99¢ a minute is considered reasonable. And overseas you normally pay the toll charges for incoming calls. It's almost always cheaper to send a text message than to make a call, since text messages have a really low set fee (often less than 5¢).

If you just want to make local calls, consider buying a SIM card (your provider may have to unlock your phone for you to use a different SIM card) and a prepaid service plan in the destination. You'll then have a local number and can make local calls at local rates. If your trip is extensive, you could also simply buy a cell phone in your destination, as the initial cost will be offset over time.

If you travel internationally frequently, save one of your old mobile phones or buy a cheap one on the Internet; ask your cell phone company to unlock it for you, and take it with you as a travel phone, buying a new SIM card with pay-as-you-go service in each destination.

Contacts

Cellular Abroad. Cellular Abroad rents and sells GMS phones and sells SIM cards that work in many countries. 800/287–5072. www.cellularabroad.com.

Mobal. Per-call rates vary throughout the world. 888/888–9162. www.mobal.com.

Planet Fone. Planet Fone rents cell phones, but the per-minute rates are expensive. 888/988–4777. www.planetfone.com.

Vodaphone (09/275–8154 or. www.vodarent.co.nz.)

It is illegal to drive and use a handheld mobile phone in New Zealand.

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