How to watch UK TV in New Zealand

How to watch UK TV in New Zealand (May 2020)

When I moved to New Zealand in October 2017 – one of the first things I did, after eating heaps of Mince and Cheese pies, was figure out how to watch my favourite UK TV channels and shows. I made mistakes along the way (see here), but now, I genuinely believe I have the best streaming set up in all of New Zealand. Here’s how you can watch UK TV in New Zealand too.

(See also: How to watch BBC iPlayer in New Zealand.)

UK TV in NZ: Quick guide

If you’re not interested in how or why my setup is so good – just follow the four simple steps below, and you’ll be able to watch UK TV in New Zealand (BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, Sky Go, Now TV) as well.

  1. Get ExpressVPN ($6.66/month) or Ivacy ($2.49/month)
  2. Download and install the ExpressVPN app
  3. Open the app and connect to a server in the UK
  4. Watch BBC iPlayer from New Zealand!

That’s it. It really is as simple as that. Below, I’ll explain why a VPN is the best way to watch UK TV from New Zealand.

*If you’re using Ivacy, then it’s better to use its dedicated BBC iPlayer server.

How to watch UK TV in New Zealand

BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. This rule applies regardless of whether you have a valid TV license or not. And as BBC is technically a free-to-air broadcaster, it doesn’t have to abide by the EU’s recent ruling that broadcasters cannot lock their customers out of their services when they’re not in their country of residence.

The way BBC iPlayer polices its (Virtual) borders is simple. It looks at a user’s IP address. If a user is connecting from a non-UK IP address, BBC iPlayer will not work.

Your IP address is given to you by your ISP (Internet Service Provider). Here in New Zealand, that means Spark, Vodafone, 2Degrees et al. 

If you want to watch UK TV in New Zealand, you need to spoof your IP connection. There are two ways I suggest doing this. The easiest is to use a VPN. Another good, but slightly more technical option, is to use Smart DNS.

How to watch UK TV in New Zealand: VPNs

VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) work by encrypting all data on your device before uploading it via your standard internet connection. Next, it’s sent to one of your VPN’s encrypted servers in a location of your choice. When your data reaches these servers, its unencrypted and relayed to a local ISP. The process is then reversed as it makes it way back to your device.

This simple combination of military-grade encryption and a global network of servers and local IPs make it possible to unlock streaming services from all around the world. US TV too; not just the UK. 

1. Sign up to ExpressVPN ($6.66/month) or Ivacy ($2.49/month)

How to watch UK TV in New Zealand - Step 1

2. Open ExpressVPN app and connect to UK server

How to watch UK TV in New Zealand - Step 2

3. Open BBC iPlayer app (or other UK TV website) and enjoy

How to watch UK TV in New Zealand - Step 3

What to do if VPN stops working with UK TV sites

In the intro when I said “I made mistakes along the way”, this is the mistake I made. I bought a 5-year subscription to IPVanish and it stopped working with BBC iPlayer within a month.

Until 2016, you could buy the cheapest VPN you could find and unblock all UK TV sites. However, when Netflix announced that it would start blocking VPNs, it started a chain reaction. All streaming sites – BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky, BT Sport, Now TV – followed suit and started blocking (some) VPN connections too. 

Now, broadcasters actively check for VPNs. The way they do this is pretty simple. VPNs can have thousands/millions of customers, but only hundreds/thousands of servers in any country. This mismatch sometimes creates a scenario where an abnormal level of traffic passes through an individual server.

And as each VPN server has to access a local ISP via an IP address – just like the internet connection in your home – it’s easy for broadcasters to detect which IP addresses belong to VPNs as they have an abnormal number of simultaneous connections. Broadcasters react by blacklisting these IP addresses.

The good news is that the best VPNs – ExpressVPN ($6.66/month) or Ivacy ($2.49/month) – recognise this. They combat it too. 

By offering more servers/IPs in popular VPN countries – and by using software that evenly spreads connections around IPs – they can manage server loads. 

The final tactic (good VPNs employ) is a game of Cat and Mouse with the broadcasters – when one of its IPs gets blacklisted, they react by closing it down and opening a fresh (undetected) IP.

See BBC iPlayer not working with VPN? Here’s how to fix that!

How to watch UK TV in New Zealand: Smart DNS

Smart DNS is a little more complicated to get your head around. DNS stands for Domain Name Server. And this is the technology (database) that converts domain names into a website’s IP address.

When you type “bbc.co.uk” in your browser relies on DNS servers to look up what the IP address is for that domain name. Typically, your ISP acts as your DNS server, and a typical online journey looks like Your IP > DNS Server > Website IP > DNS Server> Your IP.

However, when you tweak your settings to use Smart DNS, you can stipulate which IP addresses are served to specific website IP addresses. This allows you to unblock BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 (at al) from anywhere in the world, without compromising your internet speeds. An online journey using Smart DNS looks like Your IP > Smart DNS Server > Spoofed IP > Website IP > Spoofed IP > Smart DNS Server > Your IP.

To use this technique, you need to change the DNS settings on your device.

I recommend using a service called Smart DNS Proxy ($4.90 a month or $49.90 for 24 months).

I’ve been using this since December 2019 on my Apple TV. I’ve configured it to unblock BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and TV Player with UK IP addresses and access Netflix via a US IP address.

Best VPNs to watch UK TV in New Zealand

1. ExpressVPN

Price: $6.66 per month

  •  256-bit AES encryption
  •  5 simultaneous connections on multiple devices
  •  No logs
  •  Dedicated Android; iOS; Windows; and Mac apps
  •  Unlimited bandwidth

If you want to best streaming experience, then you can’t beat ExpressVPN. I’ve been using ExpressVPN to watch BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, 4oD and even US Netflix from New Zealand since March 2018 without any issues.

What makes ExpressVPN the best? Easy. Its infrastructure is the best. ExpressVPN costs a little more than most VPNs because it invests in its servers, and as a result, they are the least crowded on any VPN. This is very important when streaming content as overloaded servers lead to buffering problems, and eventually, that server getting blacklisted by BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, 4oD et al.

If you’re willing to pay the extra couple of dollars, ExpressVPN is an excellent choice. It’s a fast VPN that always has servers open with the biggest online TV servers. ExpressVPN has invested heavily in its network and has been able to continually beat BBC iPlayer’s VPN ban (US Netflix, Amazon Prime, ITV Hub, 4oD’s too).

This VPN has all the features you’d want from a modern VPN – unlimited bandwidth, 256-bit AES encryption, up to 5 simultaneous connections (on multiple devices), no logs, and dedicated iOS, Android, Fire TV Stic, Windows and Mac apps – you won’t regret using ExpressVPN as your main VPN.

Get ExpressVPN for $6.66/month (30-day money-back guarantee)

2. Ivacy

Price: $2.49/month

  •  256-bit AES encryption
  •  Automatic killswitch
  •  Connect up to 5 devices simultaneously
  •  No logs
  •  Dedicated Android; iOS; Windows; and Mac apps
  •  750 Servers in 140+ Countries
  •  Unlimited bandwidth

If you’re looking for a cheaper option, then I suggest Ivacy. At $2.49/month it represents unbeatable value, and best of all, it provides reliable connections to US Netflix, BBC Player, dozens of other streaming services around the world channels.

Ivacy is a little different to ExpressVPN with regards to UX (user experience). Instead of just selecting a UK server, you need to select the specific streaming server you require. Don’t worry, this isn’t a bad thing – by connecting to a dedicated US Netflix server, for example, it simply means that you’re connecting to an IP address that Ivacy knows works with US Netflix.

Connecting to UK TV channels isn’t the only thing that Ivacy can do. This VPN will unlock US Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ Amazon Prime, and dozens more high-end streaming services. A bargain for $2.49/month.

Click here to buy Ivacy for $2.49/month

3. NordVPN

Price: $3.99 per month

  •  256-bit AES encryption
  •  Automatic killswitch
  •  Connect up to 6 devices simultaneously
  •  No logs
  •  Dedicated Android; iOS; Windows; and Mac apps
  •  1535 servers in 61 countries
  •  Unlimited bandwidth

NordVPN is the good, and well-priced, VPN for unblocking UK TV while in New Zealand. It also one of the more established and respected VPN providers.

This VPN is one of the best on the market at playing Cat and Mouse with UK TV channels. If/when one of its servers gets blacklisted, it reacts by replacing the IP address immediately. This is the best feature you can look for from a VPN provider if you want to watch TV from another country.

It’s a service that has performed well in VPN tests for several years. Today it’s competitively priced and has all the features you want from a VPN. Android and iOS apps are available directly on the respective app stores, and you can run up to six devices simultaneously. There are multiple price options too.

Click here to save 66% and get NordVPN for $3.99/month


Read next: How to watch ITV Hub in NZ.

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