New Zealand is a democratic country but like many other democracies, it is trying to do too much and nanny its constituents on what’s right and wrong on the Internet.
We’re against those sorts of decisions and would prefer to make judgements ourselves. That’s where a good VPN kicks in, allowing you browse the web, download and upload files with BitTorrent and access any streaming service you want – without anyone knowing anything about it.
In addition, a good VPN will also protect you while accessing notoriously insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots. In case you don’t know, connecting to these could put your data in jeopardy as they could also be used by a savvy hacker — who in turn may be able to intercept your data and get ahold of your personal information. Not if you’re using a VPN, which will encrypt all data coming to and from your device(s).
That being said, here are the best VPNs for New Zealand that will also have your back no matter what you throw at them:
- 5,000+ servers in the network
- Easy to use - install it and forget it
- One license is good for up to 6 devices
- Strict zero-logs policy
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Chrome extension is just a proxy
- You can't pay with PayPal
Its network includes more than 5,000 servers spread across 60 countries, which directly translates into faster speeds. NordVPN is also very secure, relying on the strong 256-bit encryption combined with secure VPN protocols (OpenVPN, WireGuard, IKEv2/IPSec). But as a user, you get a seamless experience with all this technology "doing its thing" in the background.
NordVPN is well suited to pretty much every task you throw at it — whether it's accessing a banned site from some country that filters out the internet, torrenting, accessing streaming services, or just wanting to keep a low profile on the web. It also doesn't keep any logs.
We highly recommend NordVPN to anyone looking for reliable service.
- Feature-rich yet easy to use
- One of the best VPNs around
- Strong no-logging policy
- Reliable support you can reach 24/7
- Limited number of servers in Africa and the Middle East
- Kinda pricey
ExpressVPN has great desktop apps for Windows and Mac, mobile apps and browser extensions. Also, it is well suited for video streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and others.
However, what makes it stand out is its ease of use. We can't emphasize this enough. One could tell a lot of time has been spent making sure even the advanced features are easily accessible. And we love it for that. Plus, let's not forget ExpressVPN's speed which tends to leave other services in the dust.
- It's super fast!
- Works with Netflix, BBC and others
- Easy to use apps, browser extensions
- You can try it for free!
- Some advanced features are not configurable
- Not the best for high-censorship countries
Furthermore, thanks to the availability of browser extensions - Hotspot Shield is also one of our top choices for Chrome and Firefox VPNs.
Your privacy is equally well protected, with the software only collecting some anonymized that help continually improve its service.
There is one caveat though - it won't work in high-censorship countries like China. If you don't need that in the first place, we highly recommend Hotspot Shield.
As that's typically the case with most VPN services out there, the longer you commit - the better deal you get. However, what makes Hotspot Shield even better is the fact that it offers a 7-day free trial of its service. A few other top VPN providers do the same. Plus, its money-back guarantee lasts for 45 days, making for a risk-free purchase. Cause, you can always get your money back. Sweet and just the way we like it.
- Reliable download and upload speeds
- Works with Netflix and BBC iPlayer
- Strict zero-logs policy
- Lets you use it on unlimited number of devices
- Low number of servers in Africa and Australia
You can rely on it for streaming and torrenting, with included extra features like CleanWeb and MultiHop, delivering a that much better — and more secure — experience.
Surfshark, the company, is based in the British Virgin Islands and with its zero-logs policy makes for a powerful combo to anyone looking to keep its web whereabouts under the radar.
The service is easy to use and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- One the best VPNs for torrenting
- Works well with Netflix
- Simple setup on all popular devices
- Strict zero-logs policy
- Doesn't work with BBC iPlayer
- Doesn't work in China
Its desktop apps are not among the prettiest ones, but they get the job done. The important thing is that installation is easy and straightforward, and that no logs are kept by the company.
When it comes to pricing, IPVanish is somewhere in the middle — it's not the most affordable option but also not the most expensive one. As noted, it will be most appreciated by heavy BitTorrent users, and — related — Kodi fans.
Internet censorship in New Zealand
The Government of New Zealand uses a system for filtering website traffic to prevent Internet users from accessing certain selected sites and material. While there are many types of objectionable content under New Zealand law, the filter specifically targets content depicting the sexual abuse or exploitation of children and young persons. The Department of Internal Affairs runs the filtering system, dubbed the Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System (DCEFS). It is voluntary for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to join.
How the system works?
The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) maintains a hidden list of banned URLs and their internet addresses on a NetClean WhiteBox server, which as of 2009 contained over 7000 websites. The DIA then uses the Border Gateway Protocol to tell ISPs that they have the best connection to those internet addresses.
When a user tries to access a website, the ISP will automatically send their data through the best connection possible. If the user is trying to access a website hosted at an internet address that the DIA claims to have the best connection to, the ISP will divert the traffic to the DIA.
If the website the user is trying to access is on the DIA’s list of banned URLs, then the connection is blocked by the WhiteBox server. The user instead sees a filter notice page and has the option of getting counselling or anonymously appealing the ban.
If the website is not on the list of banned URLs, then the DIA transparently passes on the data to the actual website and the user is left unaware that the request was checked.
Some of the largest ISPs in New Zealand, including Spark New Zealand, Vodafone, 2degrees, Compass, Kordia, Maxnet, Now, and Xtreme Networks are using the DCEFS — which as of 2017 make up over 75% of the domestic market, as well as 100% of cellular carriers.
Critics of the DCEFS have cited numerous problems with the system, including performance, transparency, and security concerns. While the DIA claims that the filter will not cause issues, opponents of the system claimed that it has made major missteps, such as catching a Google-owned internet address in the filter, causing significant slowdowns. There are also concerns that the filter simply won’t work, as it can be bypassed by commonly available technologies such as using encryption or non-HTTP based file sharing methods.
Civil rights groups, like TechLibertyNZ have criticized the system for its lack of transparency due to their refusal to release the list of what is being banned, as well as what they view as a purposefully hidden launch of the system. TechLibertyNZ claims that the government could secretly add other sites they want to restrict to the hidden list.
Finally, there are concerns over the security of such a system, mainly due to its use of the trust-based BGP protocol. If someone got access to the system, they could redirect any internet traffic in between New Zealand ISPs. The DIA on its end argues this is not a vulnerability unique to the DCEFS and that their security is industry standard.
You need a VPN for New Zealand
While we don’t have anything against filtering certain parts of the Internet, especially those included in New Zealand’s initial bill to protect children, we do like to have our options open. In that sense, we prefer an option to pick and choose ourselves with no government entity being able to tell us what’s right and what’s wrong. This is especially true when we don’t have the publicly available list of blocked websites.
But that’s just one piece of the puzzle, as a good VPN has much more to offer, including:
- Accessing content that could otherwise be restricted in your physical location.
- Preventing tracking and minimizing your digital footprint so that no one can track you online (at least not that easily).
- Avoiding throttling from your ISP – which is known to happen when you’re torrenting or accessing video streaming services.
- Bypassing firewalls in a workplace, university, school and so on.
- Bypassing censorship in places like China, North Korea, countries in the Middle East, and even Turkey and Russia.
- Securely connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots – with a VPN encrypting all the traffic coming to and from your devices.
The bottom line is – get a VPN that fits all your needs. The top contenders include the following: