Christchurch airport arrivals map

Where to find a SIM card at Christchurch airport, and which one to get

Updated by Chris. Chris loves visiting New Zealand for the open space, clean air, and Kiwi charm.

For anyone arriving at Christchurch Airport from another country, I put together this guide to help find where to buy a prepaid SIM card. I usually prefer to buy a SIM card in Christchurch itself, rather than at the airport. In this guide I’ve compared the options of plans available both in town and at the airport to give an idea of good value for calls, data, and coverage.

There are two shops at Christchurch Airport which sell prepaid SIM cards:

Shop Location SIM Cards Available

8am - 6pm &
10pm - 2am
  • Arrivals Area. To the left as you come out from the arrivals door. See map above.
  • Vodafone NZ Travel SIM, from $29 NZD
  • Vodafone Prepay, from $19 NZD

8am - 6pm &
10pm - 2am
  • Arrivals area. To the left as you come out from the arrivals door. See map above.
  • Spark NZ Travel SIM, from $29 NZD
  • Spark prepaid value pack, from $19 NZD

At Christchurch Airport, prepaid SIM cards are available from the providers Spark and Vodafone. Travel NZ plans are available targeted to tourists, however I find better value with the local prepay plans.

The best plan available at Christchurch Airport appears to be with Vodafone, prices start from $29 NZD1.

If the local prepay SIM cards are available, I find these to be better value. For Spark and Vodafone, they’re local prepay SIM cards include more data or are cheaper. Local cards are missing international calls however.

Vodafone and Spark are located to the left after exiting from customs.

If transiting in Auckland before arriving in Christchurch, it’s possible to buy a SIM card during the transit in Auckland. At Auckland airport, after collecting baggage and passing through customs, there’s an opportunity to purchase a SIM card. I’ve written about where to find a SIM card in Auckland airport here.

In New Zealand, prepaid mobile phone plans are often referred to as prepay plans

Which SIM cards are available at Christchurch Airport?

Out of the options for prepaid SIM cards available at Christchurch Airport, I took a look at which cards and plans are great for:

  • Data (Spark),
  • Coverage (Vodafone), and
  • Calling back home (Spark).

Great for data: Spark, from $49 NZD

Spark is the best deal I’ve found for data SIM cards out of the options available at Auckland Airport.

For $49 NZD for the first 2 months2, Spark prepaid SIM card includes:

  • 5GB of data
  • 200 mins international calls, and some local calls

For $59 NZD for the first 2 months, Spark have a prepaid sim that includes:

  • 10GB of data
  • 200 mins of international calls, and unlimited local calls

I find the best value here for staying up to 2 months in New Zealand, or for heavy data users.

Spark also has a local prepaid SIM card that’s $19 NZD suitable for shorter trips that includes:

  • 1.25GB of data
  • 100 mins of international calls, some local calls
  • 4 week validity only

Spark offers free Wi-Fi with prepaid SIM cards, up to a fixed limit per day. I’ve never found this useful.

All prepaid SIM cards in New Zealand can be topped up and extended at local rates.

Better for coverage: Vodafone, starting from $19 NZD

Coverage is not a problem in towns across New Zealand. Outside of towns coverage is very unreliable, even at popular tourist areas.

  • Lyttelton, coverage available in the town and all the roads to and from Lyttelton. Surrounding mountains have spotty coverage.
  • Akora, coverage only available around the bay. Even some of the roads to Akora don’t have coverage.
  • Arthur’s Pass, the town itself is covered but due to the mountains, a lot of the highway in and out of the town is not. Coverage is available along the sections closer to Christchurch, and as the highway approaches the west coast.

Vodafone is my preferred SIM card to buy out of the options available at Auckland airport. It offers slightly better coverage than the other providers, though that really depends on the area.

For $19 NZD per 28-days, the local prepaid SIM card includes:

  • 1.25GB of data
  • 200 mins of calls (locally or to Australia)

For $29 NZD per 30-days (a duty-free discount may be available), the Vodafone NZ Travel includes:

  • 1.5GB of data
  • 200 mins of calls locally, to Australia, and to select other countries (Canada, China, Japan, Malaysia, UK, States and a few others)

I usually use data to make phone calls via Skype, so I prefer the cheaper local option. This may only be available after duty free however.

All prepaid SIM cards in New Zealand can be topped up and extended at local rates.

Better for calls, Spark from $29 NZD

The Spark prepaid NZ Travel SIM card is an affordable option for calling back home. It includes 200 minutes to 16 popular countries that visitors to New Zealand are from (such as Australia, China, Malaysia, Japan, Germany, France, UK and US). Spark NZ Travel SIMs start at $29 NZD.

If staying longer than 30 days, Vodafone is better value. Vodafone has an add-on that can be applied to get 100 or 120 minutes (depending on the countries) for $8 NZD per month. Spark on the other hand charges per call at unfavourable rates.

Is it better to buy a SIM card in Christchurch city or at the airport?

The benefit of leaving the airport to buy a prepaid SIM card isn’t worth the trouble for most people.

Good value I found from buying a SIM card in Christchurch itself are:

  • More data, 2Degrees offers 25GB data for $70 NZD per month3
  • Tight budget, a cheaper Skinny SIM card may be available after leaving the airport, but in reality this is a saving of $2 NZD4.

Last time I went to Christchurch I picked up a 2Degrees SIM card in town. It served me well driving over to the west coast.

Is Wi-Fi available at Airport?

Yes, Wi-FI is available at Christchurch Airport. Select the Unlimited Free Airport WiFi network and enter some details to get online. There is no time or data limit for the Wi-Fi at Christchurch airport. I didn’t try the Wi-Fi myself when I visited the airport (arriving and getting to the hire car was so quick I didn’t have a chance), but I’ve heard it isn’t a great connection.

Do I need ID to buy a SIM card at Christchurch Airport?

Identification is not required to buy a SIM card at Christchurch airport. This was the case when I last travelled there, and I’m told ID is still not required today.

Prepaid SIM cards need to be activated by dialling a certain number (each carrier is different). Instructions are included or people at the shop are generally friendly and helpful.

How to get from the airport to the city, while connected

SkyBus is the typical way to travel from the airport to Auckland City Centre. While it advertises Wi-Fi, I’ve heard it’s unreliable. SIM cards are available from shops nearby the City Centre stop.


Christchurch airport buses do not have Wi-Fi. Metro Red buses serve the airport with routes reaching a variety of destinations throughout town. Interestingly, Christchurch buses allow bicycles to be carried thanks to a bike rack on the front.

Uber and ride-share, using the airport Wi-Fi to book

It is possible to book an Uber using the Christchurch Airport free Wi-Fi. The Uber pick-up location is far from the terminal building, behind the carpark. It isn’t hard to find as it’s signposted (Rideshare Pick-up Zone), however I find it a little inconvenient. I’ve never been able to connect to the terminal Wi-Fi at the pick-up zone, which can mean a struggle to message the driver in case of problems.

Other ride-share providers at Christchurch airport include:

  • Zoomy
  • Ola


Taxis in Christchurch do not have free Wi-Fi. The taxi service is expensive; each time I visit the South Island I hire a car. Christchurch and surrounds are very accessible by car and parking is easily available.

Can I roam with my New Zealand SIM card to another country

Roaming with a New Zealand prepaid SIM card is possible, and requires a roaming pack top-up.

I found Vodafone to offer the best option for prepay roaming.

Vodafone is $5 NZD per day, or $19 NZD per week and covers over a dozen countries including Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the States, and Canada. Notably, the UK is not on this list.

Spark offers a little better roaming coverage (it includes England) but Vodafone is slightly better value. Prepaid roaming with Spark starts at $15 NZD per week, or $20 NZD to include calls.

Christchurch is connected with direct flights to Australia, Asia, and the Middle East.

For these destinations, I usually recommend to buy a SIM card on arrival. New Zealand SIM cards aren’t great for roaming. Check out my related guides for buying a SIM card on arrival here:



Written by Chris who travels frequently for work and understands what it can be like to arrive somewhere new and unfamiliar.

I wrote Landing Last Minute to help the hurried traveler get necessary information about any destination.