3 Tips to Find WiFi in New Zealand
I had heard that the WiFi in New Zealand was terrible, but I didn’t believe it. Every time someone told me this they also said it was because New Zealand is at the end of sub-ocean internet pipeline, which really seemed like nonsense. I’m still pretty sure there is no such thing as magical internet pipelines, but I can vouch that the internet in New Zealand is actually horrible.
Not horrible because it’s slow or unreliable, which I was prepared for, but horrible because it is limited, for which I was definitely not prepared. Limited internet? If you’re like me, you probably don’t even know what that means. Sure, you understand the concept of data plans for phones, but for WiFi?
Here’s what limited internet looks like in real life:
You’re wandering around Auckland. You’re tired, you’re hungry, you have a deadline in t-minus 3 hours (or maybe less than that, because, let’s be honest, you have no idea what time it is in New York). You spot a cafe with a huge sign out front that says “FREE WIFI.” Hallelujah! You are saved!
You walk in, you purchase a five dollar latte (because, yes, that’s what lattes cost in New Zealand) and you ask for the WiFi password. The clerk gives you a tiny slip of paper with a username and password. Weird, but okay. You sit down. You type in the code. A message flashes up in your browser: “You now have 50 MB of free WiFi!” The exclamation point makes it sound like this is a good thing, but you recognize it for what it is: a total catastrophe.
Basically, limited internet makes the life of a digital nomad an exercise in frustration. I have, however, developed a few coping mechanisms over the past five weeks, which I’m happy to share with you.
1. Find a Library
New Zealand libraries generally (unfortunately not always) have free, unlimited WiFi. They also tend to be really nice all around, sometimes having their own cafes and, get this, showers. Unfortunately, in the more touristy areas the libraries might not even have WiFi. This can be really devastating. The Queenstown library, for example, almost made me cry.
2. Go with Telecom
Telecom, one of New Zealand’s major phone providers, also has free WiFi hotspots in telephone booths all over the place. Of course, they’re not exactly free; you have to have a Telecom phone plan, but we get 1 GB a day with our $20 pre-paid plan. It’s definitely a better deal than paying 10c/MB at a local cafe. Of course, there are no plugs, so your computer will be on the brink of death before you get anything done, but still, it’s internet.
3. Chill out
Here’s the thing about New Zealand. There are so many things to do that are way better than spending hours searching for internet. Sure, you might fall behind with your work or your blog might go unattended for a few days. Somebody will probably unfollow you on Twitter (but let’s be realistic, they probably would anyway). New Zealand is just too much fun to waste time worrying about internet. Hike to a glacier. Sea kayak through a fiord. Ride your bike down a mountain. Just plan on posting the photos when you get home.
Syd Schulz is a recent graduate of Middlebury College (it’s okay if you’ve never heard of it). She is currently wandering the world looking for things to write about and good places to ride her bike down mountains. She blogs at Nomadically Inclined.