Virtual Private Networks have gone from expensive, corporate-centric solutions to a mainstream consumer commodity over the past decade or so, due to the increasing interest of the general public in online privacy.
These days, it has become even more necessary for many online users to subscribe to a VPN service because of the undemocratic internet activity monitoring and policing laws introduced by many governments to curb security threats.
While New Zealand’s privacy laws are still very much in effect at present, it should be noted that the GCSB is part of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance that also includes Australia, US, and UK – all countries whose spy agencies have very public data retention laws for their citizens, so you never know.
With that said, here’s a guide to choosing the best NZ VPN service for yourself to ensure that no data can be collected about your activities by any Five Eyes agency, or your access to content restricted simply because of your presence in New Zealand.
Tips for choosing the right VPN for you
Here’s what you need to look at in order to ascertain the quality of a VPN product:
- Connection quality: For an untroubled experience, the VPN service should have connection speeds that meet or exceed the speed cap introduced by your ISP. This will ensure that the internet connection you’re paying for is utilized to its fullest potential when the VPN is running, and also that you’ll be able to do everything online that you normally would.
A fast and reliable connection is most important for individuals who stream large volumes of data e.g. Netflix US subscribers streaming videos in HD. For maximum dependability, you may have to consider an expensive Tier 1 network VPN instead of a mainstream cheap VPN since the latter may buckle under excessive user load.
- Encryption: One of the reasons for using a VPN is the guarantee of online anonymity, which is achieved, in part, through data encryption. The most popular standards these days are L2TP/IPSec, OpenVPN, L2TP, and PPTP – but I’ll recommend that you stick with the first two as much as possible because the other two suffer from serious vulnerabilities that a hacker can exploit to tap into your communication.
- Server locations: This is essential if you plan on accessing an online service that is restricted to a specific country e.g. HBO Go, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Netflix US etc. – before buying a VPN, make sure it has plenty of servers in the country in question so you can enjoy access to the locked service without any interruptions.
Look for a VPN service that offers at least a hundred servers spread out over two dozen or more countries for the best possible reliability – the greater the number of servers and the more spread out they are, the better they’ll be able to handle user loads and the more secure they’ll be against DDoS attacks.
You can be exempted from this if you only plan to access light websites with the VPN, in which case even a service with mostly local New Zealand VPN servers will do fine.
- Torrenting: For those who indulge in filesharing over the P2P protocol, a VPN that supports P2P is necessary. Since torrenting is often used as a tool to share software/content illegally (not to mention the bandwidth it consumes), many VPN services frowns upon it and block this protocol, which is why you must ascertain support for P2P in particular from the VPN in question.
The best VPN for torrenting will be the one which lets you use the P2P protocol over all its servers, and without introducing a cap on your bandwidth while you do so.
- Privacy: Go for a VPN that explicitly states that it doesn’t maintain incriminating user activity logs. Generally, a VPN’s data retention policy is dictated by the country it is based on, so you’ll want to avoid VPNs whose home countries have oppressive data logging policies such as the UK, US, and Australia.
Note that certain VPNs collection non-incriminating, anonymous performance data from your sessions in order to optimize their software’s performance based on how well it is working for you right now – this is tolerable, just make sure that no information is collected that ties the performance statistics to you.
- Supported devices: Most NZ VPN providers nowadays have dedicated clients for various device platforms, both desktop and mobile e.g. Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Android, and iOS. Some, but not all, support video game consoles such as Xbox and PlayStation as well – in most cases, these will also support digital streaming devices such as Roku as well. Make sure you pick a VPN that offers full support for your particular device’s platform.
- User reviews: Make sure you go through VPN reviews NZ left by existing subscribers of the service since they give a more honest insight into its capabilities than flashy advertisements relying on complex technical jargon.
With its 2048-bit OpenVPN encryption mechanism (and L2TP/IPSec for platforms where OpenVPN doesn’t work), NordVPN is a very well rounded and affordable VPN service that is marred only by its somewhat limited server selection – a mere 80 scattered in 27 countries.
In terms of service, NordVPN’s connection speed remains consistently sufficient even when you’re streaming HD videos. Coupled with the fact that it supports the P2P protocol, this is very good news for aggressive file sharers/downloaders. You are allowed as many as six parallel connections with a single NordVPN subscription, and can optionally also subscribe to a static IP address (or one with DDoS protection) if you uses so dictate.Click here to get NordVPN
While the client software on all platforms is quite user-friendly, it does use technical terms quite a bit, which can confuse the average non-tech savvy internet user considering how the software makes no effort to explain them.
Everything considered this is a pretty solid offering which comes with a month long money back guarantee if it fails to work on your setup.
Incorporating a friendly UI, and a respectable 137 servers in more than 89 countries around the world, ExpressVPN is one of the best VPN services around for the average user in New Zealand. The download speeds are swift enough to allow for streaming of content in HD quality, so those interested in primarily accessing restricted services such as BBC iPlayer or Netflix US will be quite pleased.
Combine the fast speeds with unfettered access to the P2P protocol means this is also the best VPN for torrenting huge files securely and privately.Click here to get ExpressVPN
Industry standard 256-bit OpenVPN encryption ensures that your online communication / information is not compromised.
The support pages are comprehensive and will help you setup the software on your device in no time.
The only issue with this VPN is its slightly expensive subscription cost, but it does come with a 30-day money back guarantee if you have second thoughts about using this software (highly unlikely).
Although somewhat pricey, IPVanish is a very strong offering as far as encryption strength and bandwidth is concerned.
It utilizes an exclusive Tier-1 server network that guarantees lightning-fast download speeds, and given the fact that this VPN supports P2P file sharing, it will be great for any heavy torrent downloader.
IPVanish utilizes both OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec encryption standards for securing your data and supports all popular operating platforms.
Especially noteworthy is the fact that it has a hefty 500 servers in more than sixty countries, so there is virtually no chance of their network getting bogged down due to too many users.
Two parallel connections are allowed per subscription, and the software comes with a weeklong money back guarantee, so you can try it out with confidence.
VyprVPN is another Tier-1 server network VPN service that utilizes strong encryption protocols to secure your data against severely obtrusive censorship and privacy violating regimes.
Aside from using OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, and PPTP (where it necessary) standards, VyprVPN also uses its special Chameleon technology – a modification of the OpenVPN standard which involves scrambling the packets comprising your online communication in order to thwart deep-packet inspection techniques.
Golden Frog owns and operates VyprVPN’s Tier-1 network comprising of over 700 servers in some fifty locations around the globe – the extent of this network ensures consistently reliable service and brisk connection speeds.
On top of this, you also get a dedicated DNS proxy and a NAT firewall with your subscription.
VyprVPN claims to be extremely particular about protecting the privacy of its users, but it should be kept in mind that its parent company, Golden Frog, is partially US-based and as such, can be subjected to online data logging stipulations for their VPN service via the Patriot Act and similar legislation.
It is also a bit above the average market price. All in all this VyprVPN review concludes that its best application is for accessing geo-locked digital streaming services such as Netflix.
If you can’t afford a paid option right now, you may want to consider CyberGhost – one of the few services which offer a workable free package that doesn’t cut you out after you’ve consumer a couple of hundred megabytes worth of bandwidth quota or swamp your PC with ads.
What you get is a reliable and secure VPN link (but not always instantly, since free users are put in the queue if the service is under load), that is great for surfing websites anonymously and viewing light video content. Keep in mind that this only applies to the desktop application – other platforms do not get an indefinitely usable free package.Click here to get a CyberGhost Free Trial
As for the paid services, the pricing is cheaper than most other premium offerings at $6.99 month for the base package, and coupled with decent (but not the best) 2048 bit RSA OpenVPN encryption, as well as a 691 strong server network, this makes for a very balanced offering for the budget conscious online user in need of privacy.
There are dips in speed from time to time, but you’ll find some consolation in the fact that torrenting is supported but the service advises you to use specific servers for P2P filesharing.
As far as paid options go, you will see from the VPN comparisons above that the best VPN NZ for the moment seems to be ExpressVPN, since it combines strong encryption, fast connection speed, an ample global server collection, torrent support, friendly UI and detailed technical support in a single package – although its slightly more expensive than the average price, it is hard to beat in terms of reliability.
For those in need of a free solution, the best VPN for New Zealand that’s free is CyberGhost, since it provides you with a free VPN unlimited by meager bandwidth quotas and bloated advertisements like other free solutions.
A very close number 6 would have to be the Hide My Ass service – pretty good, all round service.
A VPN not your thing? Check out our Smart DNS comparison guide.