Which Provider Has the Best Mobile Coverage in My Region?

5G is officially here but still remains sparse in coverage, with much of the nation missing out. So how does the country fare when it comes to 5G and 4G coverage? And which provider offers the best mobile coverage in your region? Canstar goes through the major providers area-by-area.

There are three main mobile phone providers in New Zealand: 2degrees, Vodafone and Spark – each with its own network. And while for the most part there is little difference between the three, especially for those in major cities, the mobile coverage offered can vary in rural and remote areas.

And then there’s 5G.

Vodafone launched its 5G mobile network in December 2019 in selected locations across Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown. Spark decided to go rural, launching 5G wireless broadband in six South Island towns.

Since the initial launch, both providers have continued the rollout, expanding 5G into new regions. But overall, 5G still remains sparse for most users across the country. And while 2degrees has plans to launch 5G, for now, users have to go without.

But for 4G, 3G, and even 2G, which provider offers the best mobile coverage in your region? Fortunately, or unfortunately, there is a lot of overlap. With the providers largely covering the same areas but also having largely the same gaps in coverage. 

Search your region below, or read on for a full breakdown of which provider offers the best mobile coverage.

*Information accurate at time of writing – October 2021.

man without phone signal - mobile coverage

North Island Regions

Northland

  • Spark: Fair coverage in populated regions but limited elsewhere. Large black spots across Cape Reinga, Herekino, Waipoua, Taipuha, Tutamoe Range, Warawara Forest, and large sections of the west coast.
    • 5G: No
  • Vodafone: Good coverage through its 3G and 4G networks. Black spots include Waipoua, Tutamoe Range, Warawara Forest.
    • 5G: No
  • 2degrees: Excellent coverage through its 4G and 3G boosted networks. Few areas are impacted, with fair coverage in most rural areas. The only notable blackspots are extremely remote regions such as Tutamoe Range and Warawara Forest.

Auckland

  • Spark: Excellent coverage across its 4G network. However, notable black spots in the Waitākere and Hunua Ranges, as well as Rangitoto and Motutapu Island.
    • 5G: Spark has small pockets of 5G mobile coverage in Auckland CBD and along the Waterfront, as well as Devonport and Takapuna.
  • Vodafone: Excellent coverage across the region. Notable black spots in the Waitākere and Hunua Ranges, but good coverage across Rangitoto and Motutapu Island.
    • 5G: Vodafone’s 5G network is widespread in Auckland, although patchy. It is concentrated in built-up areas, so while you can expect it to work throughout the wider Auckland region, you can also expect it to dip out, and in again, as you move about.
  • 2degrees: Excellent coverage across the region. While coverage in the Waitākere and Hunua Ranges is limited, it is not a black spot as it is with Spark and Vodafone.

Waikato

  • Spark: Good coverage in most urban and populated areas, but significant areas of limited coverage elsewhere. Significant black spots in large sections across the Coromandel, and a large section across the west coast from Port Waikato down to Waikauwau (with the exception of Raglan). Plus Pureora Forest Park, Mamaku Plateau and Waipa Valley.
    • 5G: Available across much of Hamilton, as well as a pocket in Te Awamutu.
  • Vodafone: Vodafone has great coverage in urban areas and for the most part, fair coverage elsewhere across Waikato. However, Coromandel Forest Park has very limited coverage, as does areas on the west coast, such as Port Waikato, and Marokopa to Waikauwau. Mobile coverage is very limited in Pureora Forest Park, Mamaku Plateau and Waipa Valley.
    • 5G: Vodafone has pockets of 5G in Hamilton East and parts of the CBD, as well as around Whitianga up in the Coromandel.
  • 2degrees: Great coverage, with even tough spots such as Pureora Forest Park and Waipa Valley receiving limited to fair coverage. 2degrees also offers good coverage along most of the west coast (with one significant black spot around Marokopa to Waikauwau) and limited coverage through the Coromandel Ranges.

Bay of Plenty

  • Spark:  Good coverage along the East Coast and in main centres (such as Rotorua and surrounding areas). But large and significant black spots for most of inland Bay of Plenty, including a large swathe of no coverage from Te Urewera, beyond Raukumara Forest Park and out to the coast.
    • 5G: No
  • Vodafone: Good coverage along the coast and major areas but again, there is a significant black spot from Te Urewera, beyond Raukumara Forest Park and out to the coast.
    • 5G: Vodafone has pockets of 5G coverage across many towns in the Bay of Plenty. These include Waihi Beach, Katikati, Tauranga, Mount Maunganui and Papamoa, Te Puke, Whakatane, Ōhope, Ōpōtiki, Kawerau, and Rotorua.
  • 2degrees: Good coverage along coast and major areas but again, service elsewhere is limited. The same stretch from Te Urewera, beyond Raukumara Forest Park and out to the coast is for the most part without service, with patches of limited availability.

Gisborne

  • Spark: Limited to no coverage along the border with Bay of Plenty, from Waikura Valley down to Mōtū. But good coverage for most urban areas and coastal regions.
    • 5G: No
  • Vodafone: Limited to no coverage along the border with Bay of Plenty, from Waikura Valley down to Mōtū. But good coverage for most urban areas and coastal regions.
    • 5G: No
  • 2degrees: Good coverage along the entirety of Gisborne’s coastline, and around Gisborne itself. Fair coverage as you head inland along the border with Hawke’s Bay, but coverage inland along the Bay of Plenty border is limited. Such as the Waikura Valley down to Mōtū.

Hawke’s Bay

  • Spark: Limited coverage. Black spots include the southern half of Mahia peninsula, Whakaki, Te Urewera down to Tangoio, Te Haroto, Kaweka Forest Park to Ruahīne Forest Park, patches from Waimārama to Black Head.
    • 5G: No
  • Vodafone: Coverage in the region is limited-patchy. Black spots include the southeast side of Mahia Peninsula, Putere, patches from Mohaka to Tūtira, patches from Kaweka Forest Park to Whanawhana, Kairakau to Black Head.
    • 5G: No
  • 2degrees: Coverage limited with patches outside the main centres. Black spots include the southeast side of Mahia Peninsula, Te Urewera, Putere, Mohaka to Tūtira, Kaweka Forest Park to Whanawhana, Waimārama to Black Head.

Taranaki

  • Spark: Fair coverage aside from the east side of Mount Taranaki. Black spots include the area from Ahititi into Makahu and down to Paparangi.
    • 5G: Spark has 5G coverage in New Plymouth.
  • Vodafone: Fair coverage aside from the east side of Mount Taranaki. Black spots include the area from Ahititi into Makahu and down to Paparangi.
    • 5G: Vodafone has 5G in two small Taranaki towns, Etham, and just north of New Plymouth in Waitara.
  • 2degrees: Fair coverage aside from the east side of Mount Taranaki. Black spots include the area from Ahititi into Makahu and down to Paparangi.

Manawatū-Whanganui

  • Spark: Mostly good coverage through Spark’s 4G network, apart from a large black spot across Whanganui National Park and surrounding areas, extending across and into rural parts north of Hunterville.
    • 5G: Yes, in Palmerston North only.
  • Vodafone: Mostly good coverage apart from a large black spot across Whanganui National Park and surrounding areas, extending across and into rural parts north of Hunterville.
    • 5G: Notably, Vodafone has its 5G network across Whanganui. 5G is also available in key towns across the region such as Levin and Shannon, Foxton, Palmerston North, Dannevirke, Feilding, Bulls and Ohakea, plus Taumarunui and Manunui.
  • 2degrees:  Mostly good coverage apart from a large black spot across Whanganui National Park and surrounding areas. Areas north of Hunterville have limited coverage.

Wellington

  • Spark: Good coverage in urban areas, but large areas of no coverage elsewhere. Black spots include the Wairarapa with patches from Weber to Flat Point, Flat Point to Cape Palliser and across to Aorangi Forest Park. Plus the Tararua ranges, Akatawara Forest, the Remutaka ranges and Pakuratahi Forest.
    • 5G: No
  • Vodafone: Good coverage in urban areas, but large areas of no coverage elsewhere. Black spots include the Wairarapa with patches from Weber to Flat Point, Flat Point to Cape Palliser and across to Aorangi Forest Park. Plus the Tararua ranges, Akatawara Forest, and the Pakuratahi Forest. Service is limited and patchy throughout the Remutaka ranges.
    • 5G: Much of Wellington City has 5G coverage, as well as a small pocket in Fairfield, Lower Hutt. Looking further north and both Paraparaumu and Otaki have 5G.
  • 2degrees: Good coverage in urban areas with limited coverage elsewhere. Similar patches in the Wairarapa however there is fair coverage from Weber to beyond Flat Point, but coverage around Te Awiti and Ngawi, until Cape Palisar is mostly unavailable. Service through the Remutaka region is fair, and there is limited coverage through the Tararua ranges, Akatawara Forest, and Pakuratahi Forest.

phone with no signal - mobile coverage

South Island

Tasman

  • Spark: Fair coverage in towns but extremely limited beyond that. Much of the region consists of national parks and for the most part, have no coverage.
    • 5G: No
  • Vodafone: Fair coverage in towns but limited beyond that. Much of the region consists of national parks and for the most part, has little to no coverage.
    • 5G: Yes, in Motueka only.
  • 2degrees: Fair coverage in towns but limited beyond that. Much of the region consists of national parks and for the most part, has little to no coverage.

Nelson

  • Spark: Excellent coverage in Nelson city and surrounding areas, with fair, but somewhat patchy, coverage through the ranges.
    • 5G: No
  • Vodafone: Excellent coverage in Nelson city and surrounding areas, with fair, but somewhat patchy, coverage through the ranges.
    • 5G: No
  • 2degrees: Excellent coverage in Nelson city and surrounding areas, with fair, but somewhat patchy coverage through the ranges.

Marlborough

  • Spark: Good coverage in urban areas and along the coast, but limited coverage beyond that with significant black spots across all of Mount Richmond and Tapuae-O-Ueneku.
    • 5G: No
  • Vodafone: Good coverage in urban areas and along the coast, but limited coverage beyond that with significant black spots across all of Mount Richmond and Tapuae-O-Ueneku
    • 5G: No
  • 2degrees: Good coverage in urban areas and along the coast, but limited coverage beyond that with significant black spots across all of Mount Richmond and Tapuae-O-Ueneku

West Coast

  • Spark: Limited coverage overall, with coverage hugging the coastline. Inland and throughout the ranges are significantly limited, but even so, most inland towns, such as Reefton through to Greymouth, have fair coverage.
    • 5G: No
  • Vodafone: Limited coverage overall, with coverage hugging the coastline. Inland and throughout the ranges are significantly limited, but even so, most inland towns, such as Reefton through to Greymouth, have fair coverage.
    • 5G: Yes, in Westport only.
  • 2degrees: Limited coverage overall, with coverage hugging the coastline. Inland and throughout the ranges are significantly limited, but even so, most inland towns, such as Reefton through to Greymouth, have fair coverage.

Canterbury

  • Spark: Fair coverage overall, with most urban areas, towns, and cities all receiving fair to good coverage. Remote areas are much more limited, with a large swathe of the Southern Alps and central South island without any mobile coverage.
    • 5G: Central Christchurch is well covered by Spark’s 5G network.
  • Vodafone: Fair coverage overall, with most urban areas, towns, and cities all receiving fair to good coverage. Remote areas are much more limited, with a large swathe of the Southern Alps and central South island without any mobile coverage.
    • 5G: Vodafone’s 5G coverage in Christchurch is more sparse than Spark’s but it reaches out further, covering more suburban areas.
  • 2degrees: Fair coverage overall, with most urban areas, towns, and cities all receiving fair to good coverage. Remote areas are much more limited, with a large swathe of the Southern Alps and central South island without any mobile coverage.

Otago

  • Spark: Patchy coverage throughout the region. Black spots include Ahuriri Conservation Park, the northern part of Lindis Valley, Manorburn to Paerau, Waipori Falls. Main centres such as Dunedin and Queenstown have good coverage.
    • 5G: Spark’s 5G network in Otago covers Dunedin, as well as Alexandra and Clyde.
  • Vodafone: Patchy coverage throughout the region. Black spots include Ahuriri Conservation Park, the northern part of Lindis Valley, Manorburn to Paerau, Waipori Falls. Main centres such as Dunedin and Queenstown have good coverage.
    • 5G: Vodafone has 5G in Queenstown, Frankton and Lake Hayes, as well as Alexandria.
  • 2degrees: Similar black spots to Spark and Vodafone, but over much smaller areas. With fair coverage hugging the black spots. Main centres such as Dunedin and Queenstown have good coverage.

Southland

  • Spark: Limited coverage through the region, although main centres are covered. Black spots include patches through the Catlins, north of Colac Bay, all of Fiordland National Park and all of Milford Sound.
    • 5G: No
  • Vodafone: Limited coverage through the region, although main centres are covered. Black spots include patches through the Catlins, north of Colac Bay, all of Fiordland National Park and all of Milford Sound.
    • 5G: Yes, in Invercargill only.
  • 2degrees: Limited coverage through the region, although main centres are covered. Black spots include patches through the Catlins, north of Colac Bay, all of Fiordland National Park and all of Milford Sound.

Which provider has the best mobile coverage?

If you’re in a populated area, then all providers should offer plenty of coverage. As nearly every substantial urban area in the country is covered. While it can look like much of the country is without reliable mobile coverage (which is in many ways true) it’s important to note these areas are usually extremely remote. For example, 2degrees claim that its mobile coverage covers 98.5% of places Kiwis work and live. And the other networks aren’t too far behind.

As mentioned above, 2degrees has the widest coverage and may be suitable for those in remote regions or who enjoy frequent visits to national parks, forests, and hiking spots. But for now, those with a 2degrees phone plan have to forgo 5G connectivity.

For those wanting 5G, Vodafone currently has the widest coverage. But all three providers plan to start, or continue, rolling out 5G across the country. This rollout doesn’t necessarily target large cities and can be somewhat random. As shown above, both Spark and Vodafone offer 5G in widely different places. So it pays to check the provider’s website to see if 5G is available where you live.

For a more detailed breakdown of the main provider’s mobile coverage, or to see the coverage available at your address, click one of the links below:

Spark
Vodafone
2degrees

What if my area is not covered?

If your area is not covered by any mobile phone provider, the mobile black spot program may help. This is a government programme to build more towers which will be accessible by all networks.

Compare Phone Providers


author andrew broadley

About the author of this page

This report was written by Canstar Content Producer, Andrew Broadley. Andrew is an experienced writer with a wide range of industry experience. Starting out, he cut his teeth working as a writer for print and online magazines, and he has worked in both journalism and editorial roles. His content has covered lifestyle and culture, marketing and, more recently, finance for Canstar.


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