Until the 1970s, New Zealand's telephone network consisted primarily of step-by-step telephone exchanges, or a mixture of rotary and step-by-step exchanges in the main centres. A few rural areas were still served by manual exchanges. Crossbar exchanges were installed from the 1970s, and electronic exchanges from 1982. Local telephone number lengths varied from 3 to 6 digits depending on the size of exchange and population of the local calling area.
Numerous complex dialling instructions appeared in the front of telephone books explaining the number sequences needed to dial subscribers in local "free calling" areas, and in a few cases for short distance toll calls (usually to the local city or town), which were recorded on manually read meters in some step-by-step local exchanges. Local calls were "free", and still are for residential customers. Long distance or toll calls required the manual intervention of an operator, who had access to toll circuits, either via an operator's cord board or a toll exchange (switch). Access to the toll operator was by dialling 0.
Local directory service could be accessed via 100, telephone faults via 120, and emergency services via 111.
Subscriber toll dialling (STD) was introduced into New Zealand telephone network in the mid 1970s, a result of the introduction of NEC crossbar based toll exchanges and their ability to perform number translation. One still needed to dial 0 to make a toll call, but instead of calling the operator, one could then dial the STD number directly. Access to the operator was via 010, while other service numbers remained unchanged.
The original STD codes were numbered roughly south to north, with a few exceptions. Some of the STD codes were:
STD codes were assigned with larger areas having short STD codes (e.g. Auckland - 09), while smaller areas had longer STD codes and shorter local numbers (e.g. Shannon - 06927). The total number length, that is STD code and local number excluding the first 0, usually totalled seven digits, but could vary up to nine, often as exchanges increased the length of local numbers to accommodate new lines.
With the introduction of NEC Stored Program Control exchanges in to the New Zealand telephone network during the 1980s, and the rapid growth in demand, the breakup of the New Zealand Post Office and the creation of Telecom, the opportunity arose to standardise local telephone numbers at 7 digits long. In many parts of the country, the old area code was incorporated into the new number, however in some areas the numbers changed completely.
At the same time, the opportunity was taken to move directory service from 100 to 018 and charge for directory service calls. The justification for doing so was the introduction of a directory service computer system that gave access to current New Zealand telephone number listings, not just those printed in the telephone book, and the need for a separate user pays revenue stream for Telecom Directory Services, which was separate to the 5 regional (local) telephone companies, TNI and Telecom Mobile that Telecom had split itself into, as part of the sale of Telecom and deregulation of New Zealand telecommunications services.
Since 1993, land-line telephone numbers in New Zealand consist of a single-digit area code and seven-digit local numbers, the first three of which generally specify the exchange and the final four a line at that exchange.
The long distance trunk prefix, 0, that is prepended to national numbers is not part of the international number.
Minimum number length after International prefix : 3 digits (Most numbers, other than service numbers, are at least 8 digits.)
Maximum number length after International prefix : 9 digits (Except numbers starting 210 - 10 digits)
New Zealand follows open dialing plan.
Country code: 64
Long distance prefix: 0
International prefix: 00
New Zealand landline phone numbers total eight digits excluding the leading 0: a one-digit area code, and a seven-digit phone number (e.g. 09 700 1234), beginning with a digit between 2 and 9 (but excluding 900, 911, and 999 due to misdial guards). There are five regional area codes: 3, 4, 6, 7, and 9. These must be dialled, along with the domestic trunk prefix, when calling a recipient outside the local calling area of which the caller is located. For example, one calling Dunedin from Christchurch must dial 03, even though Christchurch is 03 as well.
The combined domestic trunk prefix and area codes are:02 409 for Scott Base in the Ross Dependency
03 for the South Island and the Chatham Islands
04 for the Wellington Region to Kapiti, but not the Wairarapa and Otaki
06 for the remaining southern and eastern North Island including Taranaki, Manawatu-Wanganui (excluding Taumarunui), Hawke's Bay, Gisborne, the Wairarapa, and Otaki
07 for the Waikato, the Bay of Plenty and Taumarunui
09 for Auckland and Northland
The first few digits of the local number can specify the general area of the telephone numbers. Note the names below are of the local calling areas.
Mobile phone numbers begin 02, followed by seven to nine digits (usually eight). The first few digits after the 02 indicate the original mobile network that issued the number.
Telephone numbers must always be dialled in full for mobile phones. In the late 1990s however, Telecom mobile phones could dial other Telecom mobile phones without the (then) 025 prefix, making 025 act like a landline area code.
The introduction of mobile number portability on 1 April 2007 meant that an increasing number of mobiles will be operating on a different network to that which originally assigned the number. To find out whether a particular number belongs to a specific network provider, one can text the mobile number of interest to 300. It is a free service provided by 2degrees. A reply will be sent to verify whether the number is operating on their network or not. Note: Some reports indicate this service will work for Vodafone and Spark, but as at 05/11/2014 only 2Degrees appears to support this service.
Toll-free and premium-rate
Toll-free numbers begin with 0508 or 0800, usually followed by 6 digits (some numbers on 0800 have seven digits). Premium rate services use the code 0900 followed by 5 digits. Local rate numbers, such as internet access numbers, have the prefix 08xx, and are usually followed by 5 digits.0508 Vodafone Tollfree
0800 Spark, Vodafone and other network operators Tollfree
08xy Various non-geographic services
083210 Call Minder answerphone service
08322 Infocall numbers
0867 Dial-up Internet numbers
0900 Premium rate services
Numbers beginning with 01 are for operator services.010 National Operator
0170 International Operator
0172 International Directory Service
018 National Directory Service
The '1' codes are used for local services, including activating exchange features. The emergency services number is '111'.111 Emergency Services Operator (all telephones)
112 Emergency Services Operator for GSM Mobiles (only)
11x Not allocatable. Used internally for specific emergency services.
12x Network operator repair and sales services.
13 - 19 Various uses, mainly exchange service.
The mobile network also recognises telephone numbers starting with *, including:*123 Spark Mobile Sales and Service
*222 Automobile Association Roadside Service
*500 Coastguard Marine Assistance
*555 Traffic Safety Services (Police non-emergency traffic calls)
Text message numbers for mobile phones are 3 or 4 digits long.1956 - reads back number you are currently calling from (includes the area code "3" 7654321). (not TelstraClear/Vodafone)
1957 - reads back the number you are currently calling from (without the area code e.g. 7654321). (not TelstraClear/Vodafone)
1958 - sends back the number you are currently calling from in DTMF tones. (not TelstraClear/Vodafone)
511 - reads back the number you are currently calling from (TelstraClear/Vodafone only)
083201234 - reads back the pilot number of the line you are calling from (if calling from a business line in a stepping group) or the individual number on the Telstra/Vodafone network.
083201231 - reads back the pilot number as above, with area code
083201232 - returns the DTMF tones of the line you are calling from
137 - ringer test (ringback number); Pick up phone handset, dial 137, hang up, the phone will ring, pick up handset to cancel
0196 - Dialed before numbers to show caller ID if it is disabled for outgoing calls on number you are calling from.
0197 - Dialled before any normal phone number disables caller ID for the receiving party. (not Spark currently, possibly discontinued for others)
#31# - Dialled before any normal phone number disables caller ID for the receiving party.
*32 - Dialled before any normal phone number disables caller ID for the receiving party. (TelstraClear/Vodafone only)
New Zealand has no dedicated series of fictional telephone numbers. Television shows and movies generally use any available range of numbers (e.g. the TVNZ soap opera Shortland Street uses the unassigned (09) 4299 number range.).