Geoblocks are restrictions put on content (everything from DVDs to YouTube videos) based on where you live. It doesn’t matter if you’ve paid to view the content legally, if you’re in the wrong country the geoblock stops you watching it. If you live in a small market that suffers from a lack of content, like New Zealand, then these restrictions can be stifling.
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Under New Zealand law, you’re allowed to get around geoblocks to access legal content. The following steps are a guide to accessing restricted content from overseas websites.
First, you need to sign up for a VPN or a Smart DNS service, such as Unblock-Us. Whenever you access sites on the internet, they “ask” your computer where it is by looking at its IP address (a digital location marker that every device accessing the internet has). VPN’s and Smart DNS services intercept this question and send back an IP address from whichever country you select, such as the USA or the UK, instead of New Zealand.
VPNs route all of your traffic through a single point so local sites will think you are overseas. Smart DNS services only change your location for certain sites, so you don’t have to worry about missing out on TVNZ or TV3’s streaming services. (Note: local streaming TV service Neon will not work if you use a Smart DNS service)
You can choose to add the service (VPN or Smart DNS) to individual devices or to your router so it works on all connected devices. For example, we added Unblock-Us to our router, but if there is a device that you do not want on the service (or if you have guests) then we recommend setting it up on individual devices. All of the services offer instructions on how to do this.
So now that you’ve hidden your location, you need to get content. Consumer NZ only supports accessing paid content. The following are tips for signing up to an international content provider, such as Hulu Plus or Netflix US.
You need a physical address from the country where the content is delivered from. You can use the address of a friend overseas or the address of a hotel. We used an address provided by YouShop. YouShop gives you addresses in the UK and the US, allowing you to ship physical products from online stores that don’t deliver to New Zealand. (Note the YouShop Terms and Conditions prohibit using the address in this fashion).
For most services you need a valid credit card. Valid in this sense means one that has a billing address in the country where the content is delivered from. This can be tricky. Some sites let you use the YouShop address as your billing address, most won’t. Filling in your New Zealand billing address but adding a zero to the front of your postcode (to create a 5 digit zip code) worked for us on a few sites.
Some services use Apple to subscribe, this means you’ll need to set up a US iTunes account. This is a straightforward process. Once again, you’ll need an overseas address. But instead of needing a valid credit card, you can choose to use vouchers to top up your US iTunes account. Vouchers for the US store can be purchased online; a Google search brings up stores that sell them. Having a US iTunes account also lets you download any apps you need for your Apple TV, iPhone or iPad to play content.
Follow these steps and you'll be able to view what you want, when you want, in good quality at a reasonable price from all over the globe.
It is important to note that doing this is currently legal in New Zealand but doing so may breach certain websites’ terms and conditions.
This information is available to Consumer members only.