If (like me) you’re an ex-pat living in NZ, you probably miss watching BBC iPlayer. Well, don’t worry. In this article, I’m going to show you the best way to seamlessly watch iPlayer, just as if you were back in Blighty. Here’s how to watch BBC iPlayer in New Zealand.
Note (1/11/20): ExpressVPN has not been working with BBC iPlayer for a couple of months. If you were using ExpressVPN to watch BBC iPlayer abroad you will need to switch to NordVPN’s ($3.49/month) or Ivacy ($1.16/month).
How to watch iPlayer in NZ: Quick guide
Below, I go into detail about the hows and whys of watching BBC iPlayer in New Zealand. But if you’re just looking for a quick fix, follow these four steps and you’ll be watching BBC iPlayer in about four minutes flat.
- Get NordVPN ($3.49/month) or Ivacy ($1.16/month)
- Download and install the ExpressVPN or Ivacy app
- Open the app and connect to a server in the UK
- Go to www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer (or open BBC iPlayer app)
- Watch BBC iPlayer from New Zealand!
How to watch BBC iPlayer in New Zealand
2. Download and open your VPN app and connect to UK server
3. Open BBC iPlayer app and enjoy
The first thing you need to know about BBC iPlayer is that it will only work if you’re connecting from a UK IP address (see below). This may sound a little bit complicated, but it really isn’t.
The best way, to watch BBC iPlayer in New Zealand (or anywhere outside the UK) is to spoof your IP address. And the easiest (and only practical) way to do this is to use a VPN.
VPNs aren’t expensive. You can pick a good one up for a few dollars a month and share your login with friends – providing your VPN allows simultaneous connections.
When you have bought and downloaded your VPN all you need to do is connect to a server in the UK. This will spoof your IP address, allowing you to watch BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world.
Note: Not all VPNs work with BBC iPlayer. This is because iPlayer has started blocking some services for abnormal usage reasons. Take a look at our BBC iPlayer detecting VPN article to find out more.
See also: How to get American Netflix in NZ (2021)
IP addresses: What you NEED to know
Your IP address is a lot like your physical address or landline telephone number. Even though you probably have no idea what your current IP address is – websites can use it to work out where you’re connecting to the internet from as your IP address is given to you from your local ISP.
Why don’t all VPNs work?
Until recently, you could buy any old VPN and use it to connect to any server in the UK then start streaming BBC iPlayer immediately.
But since late in 2017, the BBC started to actively blacklist VPNs from using iPlayer. And the reason for this was fair enough. People from any country in the world could pay a VPN provider a couple dollars a month and gain unlimited access to BBC iPlayer. Hardly fair on the licence payers back home.
The BBC continues to blacklist and block VPNs to this day.
When you take a closer look at how the BBC blacklists VPNs you start to understand how you can work around the ban.
How BBC iPlayer blacklists VPNs?
The way the Beeb blacklists a VPN is pretty simple. It now actively looks and blocks IP addresses that stream/download abnormal amounts of content from BBC iPlayer.
This is a problem for VPNs as they share a relatively small number of servers (and IP addresses) with thousands of customers.
At present, VPN servers are getting blacklisted (by the BBC) faster than they can create new servers. The end result is users of VPNs being unable to access BBC iPlayer on an increasingly regular basis. Any of you who have been using a VPN to watch BBC iPlayer will have experienced this (since late 2017).
See also: How to listen to TMS abroad.
The best way to combat this new strategy from the BBC is to buy a VPN that replaces its IP addresses as soon as they’re blacklisted.
NordVPN ($3.49/month) is the best for this with over 385 different servers in the UK. ExpressVPN also frequently changes its UK servers’ IP addresses – engaging in a game of Cat and Mouse with the BBC – to combat its blacklisting strategy.
I’ve been using NordVPN since March 2018 and have enjoyed access to BBC iPlayer, BT Sport, 4oD ITV Player and US Netflix with no buffering issues or other interruptions.
See also: The 6 Best VPNs for New Zealand.
Best VPN to watch BBC iPlayer in New Zealand
There are tons of VPNs that will *temporarily* unblock BBC iPlayer. When I first moved to New Zealand I thought I did my research properly and decided IPVanish was the best VPN for me in terms of price and functions. And for the first few days, IPVanish unblocked BBC iPlayer for me reasonably well. Then, all of a sudden, it didn’t. I reached out to IPVanish’s support team and was told that it no longer supported unblocking BBC iPlayer as one of its features.
Below are three VPNs that have been able to beat BBC iPlayer’s VPN ban for the past several years.
Note: Take a look at our Which VPNs still work with BBC iPlayer article to find out more.
The best (& fastest) VPN of 2021!
Number of servers: 5,000+ | Speeds: >80% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 62 countries | Devices supported: 6 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes
NordVPN is the most widely-used VPN in the world. And its easy to see why. It’s a polished app that delivers fast connections (more on this later) to a massive network of VPN servers.
It’s the most reliable at unblocking popular streaming services too – US Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, etc. This is because NordVPN hired full-time technical team (that’s responsible for monitoring its servers connections with popular TV streaming services) and has been aggressively investing in its network of IP addresses in key locations.
Another interesting thing to note is that NordVPN is an industry leader in its development of Nordlynx technology. Nordlynx is built using the WireGuard, a new VPN tunnelling protocol designed to outperform current standards (OpenVPN and IPSec). The benefits, according to NordVPN, are dramatically faster transfer speeds while connected to a VPN. My tests – New Zealand to London – confirm that Nordlynx is currently the fastest VPN on the market. However, the difference isn’t dramatic, a few Mbps is all.
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The BEST low-cost VPN
Number of servers: 1,000+ | Speed: >65% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 275 in 100 countries | Devices supported: 5 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes
If you’re looking for an excellent VPN, with an even better price tag, Ivacy ($1.16/month) is a great option.
This VPN has all the features you need to stream BBC iPlayer, in HD, from any country in the world. I’ve been testing the app recently on Mac, PC, Android, iOS and FireStick and the results have been impressive – unlocking BBC iPlayer, US Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, etc. with ease.
The Ivacy app is a little different in regards to its UX (user experience). Instead of just selecting a UK server, you need to select the specific BBC iPlayer server. Don’t worry, this isn’t a bad thing – by connecting to a dedicated BBC iPlayer server, it simply means that you’re connecting to an IP address that Ivacy knows works with BBC iPlayer.
For an extra $1.99/month (£1.74) you can add-on a dedicated IP. This will buy you sole access to an IP address in a country of your choice, meaning you won’t have to share your IP (and speeds) with any other use. I don’t recommend this though, using the regular Ivacy servers is enough 95 per cent of the time.
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A very reliable and fast VPN
Number of servers: 3,000+ | Speed: >80% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 160 in 94 countries | Devices supported: 5 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes
ExpressVPN is still one of the best VPNs you can buy. However, we’ve got it ranked in the number three spot for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s the most expensive VPN on the market. This was understandable when it was also the fastest and most reliable VPN too. But now it’s not. NordVPN is. ExpressVPN has recently been struggling to unblock some big streaming sites – BBC iPlayer and BeIN Sports – too.
And importantly, it ALWAYS has servers that are open with major streaming sites such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video etc.
ExpressVPN is usually very good at playing Cat and Mouse with online streaming sites (apart from BBC iPlayer). Meaning, whenever one of its servers is blacklisted it creates a new one – giving its users a constant stream of servers that aren’t blocked. Needless to say, this is a valuable attribute if you’re looking for a VPN to unblock streaming sites.
Its app is easy-to-use and free to download on pretty much any device you can think of. Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, FireStick, Android TV, Roku, PS4, Xbox, Linux, even Apple TV (with a workaround). It’s got it all covered.
The app is another main reason this VPN is so good at unblocking TV streaming sites (that claim they block VPNs) is that its software takes a pragmatic approach to user management. While other VPNs tempt customers by promising them access to hundreds/thousands of servers in multiple countries, ExpressVPN does things differently.
With ExpressVPN you only have a handful of server locations to choose from. Once you select your location the app takes care of the rest. Assigning you to the fastest available server that’s not oversubscribed. This simple technique is so important, as it keeps ExpressVPN’s servers operating at lightning-fast speeds and prevent its IPs from getting blacklisted for “abnormal” usage in the first place.
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The BEST mid-range VPN for streaming!
Number of servers: 3,000+ | Speeds: >75% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 70 in 48 countries | Devices supported: 5 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes
Private Internet Access is one of the leading no-log VPN services with over 1 million paying customers.
This VPN is one of the best in the industry at beating streaming sites’ VPN bans. It provides reliable connections with US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+ Amazon Prime Video, etc. It also allows 10 simultaneous devices to be connected to its servers at the same time, so you can share the account with your close friends.
If, for whatever reason, you’re not happy with Private Internet Access, there’s a 24/7 live chat support available to assist you with your problem. PIA also offers the industry-standard 30-days money-back guarantee.
From my tests (from New Zealand) I was able to get download speeds of 70 Mbps while connected to a UK server using the Private Internet Access VPN (my non-VPN speed is 100 Mbps).
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Number of servers: 6,000+ | Speeds: >65% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 200 in 90 countries | Devices supported: 7 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes
CyberGhost is one of the more established VPNs on the market. It has a well-established, and well-tested global network of servers that perform well.
From my tests over the past several months, CyberGhost has no trouble at unblocking major streaming services – US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max etc. This VPN performed well at maintaining download speeds, well above 65 per cent of my regular (non VPN) ISP speed.
That said, there’s nothing really unique about the service. Which forces you to look at its price-point. And there’s nothing special here. Its short-term $12.99/month price tag puts is well above the industry average of $10.10/month. Similarly, its long-term $2.75/month for 3 years deal isn’t much of a “deal” either.
Oddly, CyberGhost’s most unique feature is its a 1-day, no obligations, free trial. This is an appealing offer to customers who are new to VPNs. However, it’s important to remember that most reputable VPNs will offer customers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so try not to be too seduced by the offer.
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Read next: How to listen to BBC Radio abroad.