Access the Internet in Your Motorhome or Caravan
When hitting New Zealand’s roads in your home on wheels, there’s often one home necessity that you leave behind; decent internet. If you’re a digital nomad, want to stream your favourite shows or simply want the reassurance of a strong WiFi connection, then relying on the crappy WiFi found between holiday parks and your phone network just won’t cut it. In this guide, we’ll show you how to get reliable WiFi in your campervan in New Zealand by using a portable modem and a wireless network service.
Should You Use WiFi Hotspotting from Your Phone?
A simple solution to get WiFi in your campervan is using a tool you’re already likely to have; your phone. Using mobile data, smartphones have the capability to generate a WiFi hotspot (also known as tethering) for other devices to connect to the internet. Needless to say, New Zealand’s phone networks are far cheaper than international roaming, so check out What are the Best Phone Networks in New Zealand to compare prices.
Hotspotting from your phone, however, is only a viable option if you only need to access the internet occasionally. Phone network data plans are not cost-effective if you use a lot of data, for instance, for streaming videos, downloading and uploading photos and videos, or if you have multiple users connecting to the hotspot. Additionally, your phone’s hotspot not only has a short range but can dip in and out of connection. If you want the same peace of mind as you have with your home WiFi connection, then you will want to look at a portable WiFi router.
What is a Portable WiFi Router?
A portable WiFi router or portable modem can be used to create your own WiFi hotspot. They are designed to give you high-quality internet without having to be connected to a landline. Instead, they connect to wireless 3G/4G towers across New Zealand.
Wireless Nation is one of the leading wireless network providers in New Zealand. They offer wireless internet through more than 500 towers across the country, even connecting users in many rural areas of New Zealand. Seriously, check out their coverage map. Their portable modems plug into a standard mains power outlet or into your vehicle’s 12-24v cigarette lighter socket.
In short, portable WiFi routers offer a stable connection when you’re on the road, much like what you’ll experience at home. Think of it as a home-away-from-home internet experience!
How to Connect a Portable WiFi Router in Your Campervan
While not as simple as turning on your phone’s WiFi hotspot, portable WiFi routers are still easy to set up. What’s more, you only need to do it once in your campervan – just set it up and tuck it away in a cupboard.
Inserting the SIM Card
If purchasing a portable modem from a wireless service provider like Wireless Nation, then the SIM card will already be inserted into the modem. Otherwise, you’ll need to open your modem’s SIM card cover and insert the SIM card from your chosen network provider.
Connecting to Power
Next, you’ll need power. Portable modems usually come with either a standard 240v power outlet, which are recommended if you connect your motorhome to a powered site in holiday parks. Modems also work on 12-24v to run off your vehicle’s battery. However, you may need to purchase a 12-24v cigarette lighter socket adapter, which is an optional add-on with Wireless Nation.
Once your modem has power, it can take a couple of minutes for the modem to boot up and connect to a wireless tower. Wireless Network uses a Huawei B818 modem, which indicates a blue light next to the word “MODE” when the modem is connected to a 4G/3G network. That means your internet is working and ready to go!
How to Connect Your Devices to a Portable Modem?
Much like connecting to your modem at home, the “WiFi Name” and “WiFi Password” should be printed on a label attached to your modem. It might be on the bottom if you can’t find it.
It’s as easy as that.
How Much Does Portable Internet Cost?
The costs to keep in mind when comparing portable internet include the modem, data plan, the 12-24v adapter (if needed), and shipping.
The Cost of a Portable WiFi Data Plan
The price of portable internet in New Zealand depends on your data plan. Once again, we take Wireless Nation as an example as they are the market leader in New Zealand. They have three main Lifestyle Broadband Plans:
- 115GB (65GB Anytime/50GB Off-peak*) – NZ$89/month
- 170GB (120GB Anytime/50GB Off-peak) – NZ$99/month
- 250GB (200GB Anytime/50GB Off-peak) – NZ$159/month
*Anytime hours are from 5pm to midnight (or if you run out of Off-peak Data). Off-peak hours are from midnight to 5pm. You can also add unlimited Off-peak data for an extra NZ$28 per month.
Note that Wireless Nation also offers the option to put your plan “on hold” so you don’t have to pay for the months when you’re not using the service.
Are you part of the NZMCA (New Zealand Motor Caravan Association)? Discounted rates are available with Wireless Nation. Find out more on the Wireless Nation website.
Yes, you will need to invest in the portable modem too. Expect to pay approximately NZ$329 for a powerful modem plus a shipping cost of around NZ$14.95. But wait! You can get a discount on the modem price using the discount code below.
Additionally, surge-protected 12-24v adapters through Wireless Nation are NZ$59.90.
Discount Code for Wireless Nation
Ready to take the internet around New Zealand with you? Make sure you include our discount code for Wireless Nation, exclusively for our readers!
Get NZ$30 off a modem by using the following code with Wireless Nation:
Use this discount code on the Wireless Nation website.