NZ phone question

Old Jan 19th, 2005, 07:44 AM
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Jed
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NZ phone question

Here's the problem: (I've searched, but not seen the answer. Also, I've checked out the Vodaphone site.)

We will be in NZ for 3 weeks, driving around. We get stuck on some lonely road. My wife gets nervous.

I figure that I should rent (not buy) a phone when we get to NZ and buy a phone card for local calls. Is that the best thing to do? Would the local phone card be good for the rented phone and public phones?

Also, what is a SIM CARD?

Thanks for your help.
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Old Jan 19th, 2005, 10:27 AM
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Another consideration - How about prepaid phones? (R))
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Old Jan 19th, 2005, 11:11 AM
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Jed, I'm assuming you're coming from the US and that your own cellphone is therefore incompatible with the GSM system used in most countries including NZ?

I would think that - depending on the deal - renting a mobile phone with a prepaid card is your best option. SIM, by the way, stands for Subscriber Identity Module - it's the little card you insert into your mobile phone that contains your service's unique identifying info (including phone number), any prepaid credit etc.

Did you check out www.vodarent.co.nz/?

As for phone cards, I would have thought they'd be more use for calls back home, as they can offer very cheap international rates (albeit with some degradation in quality, in my experience). I don't know what NZ mobile call charges are like, but if you're not expecting to be making many, or lengthy, local calls the mobile might be your most convenient option - for those that you can't make from your hotel room, that is.

Another option I've heard mentioned is, for people who expect to do a fair amount of travelling, to buy a switchable tri-band cellphone that can be used on the US system and also (I think) two different frequency bands of GSM. If you search on this forum, or maybe the Asia or Europe forums, you should find some advice on that.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2005, 08:39 AM
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Thanks, Neil. Yes, I am in the US, and have a plain, basic cell phone.

I checked out the vodarent site, and as you indicated, a SIM card is really a little gizmo that you put into the phone. They rent phones and cards separately. (To me that is like renting a car and its battery separately.) Then they charge per call, which seems to me to be expensive. I may rent them, since I will use it just in emergencies, which I hope will never happen.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2005, 12:44 PM
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Hi Jed. Another option is what my son did since he does a decent amount of traveling. He picked up a used unlocked nokia phone on e-bay that works for phone calls and text messaging in europe, australia, new zealand and a bunch of other places. He was planning on buying a cheap sim card when we got to NZ, but instead rented a sim card for the 3 weeks we were there from the vodaphone kiosk at the airport. We could receive incoming calls free on it (like everywhere else except the US) and call 0800 numbers at no charge. Then we picked up a phone card and used that for other calls. Since the phone card had an 0800 access number, we could call that from the cell phone for free as well. It gets around all those high surcharges you get hit with using hotel phones, too. If you think this solution might work for you, let me know and I'll ask my son to post more specific info for you.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2005, 12:46 PM
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Sorry i forgot to mention that one advantage to this is that when you travel to other places that are on compatible bandwidths, you can just pick up (buy or rent) sim cards which give you a phone number and pop them in.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2005, 01:24 PM
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Hi Jed-
Sharon's idea about ebay is really good. When I was in Australia last summer my Aussie friend had a spare cell so I went to Vodafone and bought a SIM card (I also had no clue what it was). Basically it assigns you a phone number and slips into the back of the phone. You then prepay a certain amount and after that runs out you can just recharge using the website. It was really easy. I only used it for local calls in Sydney and 0800 numbers. Otherwise I used a prepaid phone card that was ridiculously cheap (and used a landline phone for this) so I was calling the US all the time for about .03 cents a minute! Also been to NZ which is absolutely stunning so have a great trip.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2005, 03:26 PM
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Calling from NZ back to the US is simple. Just go to any drugstore or paper seller on the street and get a prepaid phone card. The best is Kiwitalk with 200 minutes back to the US for $10. We only found these in Auckland but any phone card will do. Just dial the 800 number on the back, then the scratched off ID number on the card back, then 001 (NOT 011) area code and phone number. These can also be used to call within NZ. I wouldn't worry about getting stranded on a lonely road. The people of NZ are the friendliest, most helpful people I have met. I traveled for 31/2 weeks with my daughter and had nothing but wonderful experiences in this lovely country. Little Nell
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Old Jan 22nd, 2005, 04:38 PM
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If you travel much outside the U.S., you'd probably be better off buying an unlocked tri-band GSM phone.

There are numerous internet sites (as well as eBay for used phones) to do this. Then almost anywhere you go you can get a SIM for that country, including some U.S. carriers that are moving to GSM.

Some U.S. carriers that use SIM cards (Cingular, ATT) offer phones that can be easily unlocked. So if you have a tri-band GSM phone with a U.S. carrier, you might just have to pop in the new SIM. (You would have a different number, however.)
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Old Jan 23rd, 2005, 07:54 AM
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Thanks to all.

There are some things (calculus, philosophy) that I have never understood. Perhaps there is still time in this life for me to understand all these newfangled phone options.
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Old Jan 31st, 2005, 07:22 PM
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There's a place in Oakland California that will unlock a cell phone for about $30 bucks including return shipping to you. It worked out really well for me in New Zealand using my AT&T phone. If anyone wants the info let me know.
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