Jurisdiction: Canada | Audit: by Cure53 | Apps for: Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone | Simultaneous connections: 5 | Browser Extensions: Chrome, Firefox, Opera | Advanced Features: Vigilant Bear (Kill Switch), GhostBear (when a VPN is blocked), Split Bear (Split Tunneling)
Total servers: 1,800+ Servers in 23 countries | Servers in New Zealand: Yes | Servers in Australia: Yes
TunnelBear NZ Review
TunnelBear is a VPN company based in Toronto, Canada. It has been in operation since 2011.
TunnelBear is available worldwide, including in New Zealand. This TunnelBear NZ review will look at how this service compares to others.
TunnelBear currently has active servers in 23 locations worldwide, including North America, Europe, Mexico, Brazil, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.
The speed of your connection depends on how far you are from the server. While TunnelBear has over 1800 servers, it doesn’t say precisely how many of them exist and how many of them are physical servers (as opposed to virtual servers).
It’s important to know this information because too few servers matched against too many users can easily lead to a slow internet connection.
The No-Logging Policy
When we say that TunnelBear VPN has a no-logging policy, this does not mean that it keeps zero logs. TunnelBear records what you would call operational data.
This information includes the operating system your device uses, the version of TunnelBear you are using, whether you have been active in the past month, and the bandwidth.
Strictly speaking, this isn’t a zero-logging policy. However, TunnelBear does not log vital information, such as your activity while connected to the service.
The information they keep also doesn’t make it possible to identify any of the things you might have done online or track them back to your IP address. The logs TunnelBear maintains are far less comprehensive than the ones kept by some other VPNs.
It can often be hard to verify whether all the VPN claims about its service are accurate. After all, what’s to stop one from lying to its customers if there’s no way of them finding out things are off?
TunnelBear NZ also has a very in-depth no-logging policy, pointing out that it can’t make any link between users and their actions online or the kind of activity carried out by any particular IP address.
The good news is that TunnelBear is a little different than the competition. The service is audited for security by third party specialists on an annual basis. The security audit covers various service areas, including their frontend, backend, infrastructure, browser extension, ad blocker, and desktop and mobile clients.
In the past, these audits have found vulnerabilities in various areas. This result may not seem like good news, but the mere fact that TunnelBear is willing to expose its vulnerabilities like this is a good thing. Moreover, they have taken steps to fix all of the issues pointed out, indicating that the service is willing to do whatever it takes to improve.
TunnelBear has a lot of great features to offer to New Zealand users. First to be covered are their security features:
VigilantBear is a kind of kill switch feature offered by TunnelBear VPN NZ, and it is one of their most vital components.
The kill switch feature is also commonly known as a network lock feature, and it works just as it sounds. Say the connection drops suddenly: VigilantBear will protect you by immediately killing your connection.
Without a kill switch like this, your private IP address can quickly get exposed. Not only is VigilantBear a useful tool, but it also works on multiple platforms (Windows, Mac, and Android).
Another significant aspect of TunnelBear is its split tunneling feature. Split tunneling is an important feature shared by high-quality VPN providers.
Split tunneling essentially splits the internet traffic. Some of it goes through your VPN, and some through your ISP. This flow might be necessary when you don’t want all of your apps’ traffic to go through the VPN, especially when speed is a factor.
For example, you might want to download a torrent over VPN, but stream YouTube videos over the regular network so that videos stream faster. TunnelBear gives you the ability to control which apps get tunneled through the VPN and which ones will get tunneled through your ISP.
The only caveat here is that this feature is only available for Android devices.
GhostBear is a privacy feature that allows you to connect from networks that block VPNs. This trait is vital for people that live in countries like China, as some countries have DPI (Deep Packet Inspection) and VPN restrictions. TunnelBear gets around these restrictions by faking it and causing the VPN traffic to look like regular HTTPS traffic.
While it is a great feature, note that it can have a substantial impact on network speeds as so much extra processing is involved. GhostBear isn’t on by default, but you can turn it on in the settings.
Trusted Networks is a security feature. You get to choose which networks to whitelist. All the networks you regularly connect to, and trust are whitelisted. When you have Trusted Networks on and are trying to connect to an unknown connection, TunnelBear will first check to see if any of the networks in your whitelist are available and connect to them.
For iOS devices, there is the Always-On feature. This handy feature switches the TunnelBear VPN on as soon as your iPhone or iPad switches on, ensuring you are always protected.
There is also the Closest Tunnel feature, which allows you to select the TunnelBear VPN server nearest to you. The Always-On tool is excellent if you don’t have any concerns about geo-restrictions and don’t mind logging into sites from your location.
This primary advantage is that connecting to a server close to you increases your network speed as there are fewer hoops to jump through.
Whenever you’re considering a VPN service, one of the most significant concerns a user will have is security. TunnelBear uses high-quality security features and protocols, ensuring that customer data is well protected.
For encryption, TunnelBear NZ uses AES-256 encryption (256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard). This setup is the best kind of encryption in the industry. It is secure, fast, and light as it does not consume a lot of computing power.
Government agencies commonly use AES-256 to encrypt top-secret data. That is why experts refer to it as “military-grade” security in the industry. TunnelBear uses AES-256 to ensure that your data is safe while in transit.
The other security feature used is TunnelBear’s authentication system, which utilizes SHA-256 (256-bit Secure Hashing Algorithm). As the name suggests, this is a hashing algorithm that converts any string of data into a “hash digest” of unique characters of a fixed length.
Hashing protects sensitive data, such as passwords, in a form that does not expose them as plain text. For example, the password to your Twitter account is never in its plain-text form. Instead, a “hash digest” of the password remains in the database. That way, if the Twitter user database ever gets hacked, users’ passwords will not be exposed, as they will be in an unintelligible format. TunnelBear uses SHA-256 hashing to ensure your most sensitive data is stored safely.
It’s important to point out the technical difference between ‘encryption’ and ‘hashing’ here, as you might wonder why we need the two technologies for security.
The difference is that encryption is reversible. You can encrypt data, send it over the network, and then the recipient can decrypt it, assuming they have the right ‘key.’
On top of these two security features, TunnelBear in NZ also uses various secure internet protocols to protect data in transit.
A good VPN service should have not only great security features for its data but also use secure protocols. TunnelBear takes care of this by using the most secure protocols in the industry, including KEv2/IPSec for iOS, OpenVPN for Mac and Android, and IKEv2/OpenVPN for Windows.
Let’s start by looking at OpenVPN, an open-source security protocol used to secure the tunnels through which internet traffic passes. It is quite popular and considered the industry standard when it comes to VPN protocols.
This mainly because of the sweet spot it occupies between speed and security.
Next is the IKEv2 protocol. IKEv2 stands for Internet Key Exchange version 2, and it is yet another popular VPN protocol. It is a robust protocol that forces the connection to reestablish once you get disconnected then reconnected.
This protocol is a useful feature for when you’re switching between connections. For example, you’ll use it when switching connections from a mobile hotspot to a WiFi connection.
Finally, we look at the IPSec protocol. IPSec stands for Internet Protocol Security. This hybrid protocol draws from many individual protocols to secure information as it travels through the internet.
TunnelBear has clients for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. While not all of its features work across all platforms, each platform uses a unique mix of security protocols. They are all robust enough that you can use TunnelBear on any platform without having to worry about your security and privacy while on the internet.
Additionally, each TunnelBear license allows you to connect up to five devices. All you have to do is download the client for each device (using the devices, of course) and log in using the same set of credentials. Note that the free plan only allows you to connect a single device.
Manual Setup Guides For Major Operating Systems
What if you want to use TunnelBear on a device that does not use any supported platforms? In case you’re looking to manually configure TunnelBear for platforms other than Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS, you will need manual setup guides.
These guides are on the site. However, manual configuration is only available for Linux. There are no manual setup guides for routers, gaming consoles, AndroidTV, AppleTV, Windows smart devices, or eReaders.
TunnelBear goes well beyond what most other VPN services do. The standard VPN service that offers ad blocking will only do so at the level of the network. The usual claim here is that the VPN service blocks the ads even before they reach your computer.
That may sound comforting, but it isn’t necessarily true since ads aren’t always in distinct packets from the data. Some ads look like standard data packets and leak through network-level security, making it to your browser and adversely affecting the quality of your internet surfing experience.
TunnelBear NZ goes a step further than your average VPN. The company has a standalone browser extension for blocking ads, known merely as Blocker. As a TunnelBear product, Blocker has the same charm (and the same coat of arms) as the rest of TunnelBear’s products. It’s also very well designed for a browser plugin.
A browser plugin is a far superior solution to the ad problem than network-level security. It gives you, the user, much more control over what kinds of ads are blocked and when they are blocked.
Blocker works very well compared to other blockers, as it does not break site elements and make sites unusable (something many subpar ad blockers are notorious for). With Blocker, even when the ad blocker breaks site elements, you can choose to switch it off to make the site usable.
TunnelBear also offers browser extensions to reroute all traffic on the browser through a TunnelBear server. These extensions are available for the Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browsers and essentially work like proxies.
By rerouting all traffic through a VPN server, these extensions allow your browser traffic to be encrypted differently than the VPN app. This feature is useful as sometimes you might want only your browser traffic encrypted instead of all of your device’s apps.
It is undoubtedly useful on devices where the split tunneling feature is unavailable. That said, I wouldn’t advise you only to have the browser extension. It is not a replacement for the complete TunnelBear VPN protection.
TunnelBear also has another product for New Zealand users: RememBear. RememBear is a password manager that is free if used on a single device.
However, if you want to use it across multiple devices, you will have to get on a paid plan of about $36 annually (or $60 if you pay for two-years).
On the other hand, if you pay for a three-year TunnelBear NZ VPN subscription, getting the other features, RememBear gets bundled with the subscription.
RememBear is a great product that gets many of the basics right while maintaining the same charm that pervades all of TunnelBear (lots of bear cartoons).
That said, it’s not the gold standard of the industry. It lacks many of the advanced features that market leaders like 1Password have, such as password inheritance, secure sharing, and two-factor authentication.
There is a strong correlation between the number of server locations and quality of service in the VPN industry. At the bare minimum, an extensive server network with numerous sites means you have more options when it comes to faking your location. You do not want too many servers in New Zealand, for example.
Geographic diversity in the server network also helps you take advantage of service no matter where you are in the world. If you’re traveling, you can connect to the nearest server and work securely at high speeds (much higher than you would get if you were connecting to a distant server).
TunnelBear NZ doesn’t do very well here. It only has 23 server locations. For the most part, this covers the most popular regions, including America, Europe, Mexico, Brazil, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. However, it completely ignores others, like the Middle East, Africa, and most of South America.
Many VPN companies ignore these regions when considering server locations, so TunnelBear isn’t unique in that respect. But it does have way fewer places than your average VPN company. CyberGhost, for example, has servers in 90 countries.
In terms of actual servers, TunnelBear VPN NZ has 1800. This lineup is a solid offering, but it still puts TunnelBear somewhere in the middle of the pack at best. There are VPN companies with multiples of that in servers. CyberGhost offers over 5000 servers.
Besides, using the number of servers as a metric for quality isn’t an excellent idea. Sure, a large company with lots of servers will also have lots of customers, and all VPN companies will spin up new servers as needed. Still, quality depends more on server locations and how many physical servers the company has.
That brings us to the topic of virtual servers. A virtual server is one emulated by software. A single physical server can have multiple virtual servers running on it.
A virtual server can also get configured to look like it is in a different location. This setup can be a good thing when you need to have servers providing coverage for a particular place but can’t physically be there due to security concerns.
On the other hand, it can be a concern when a company isn’t transparent about your data’s exact location.
TunnelBear claims that it has physical servers in all of its physical locations and only spins up virtual servers when demand goes up unexpectedly. It’s hard to verify if this is true, though, so take it with a grain of salt.
There has been recent legislation in China, which has led TunnelBear to announce that it will soon voluntarily suspend its servers in Hong Kong (as of this writing).
The company insists that it does not store any user information on its Hong Kong servers (which again leads to whether it has physical servers in all its locations to begin with).
Other VPN companies have got around the problem by using virtual servers that appear to be in Hong Kong while outside China.
TunnelBear VPN NZ has taken a different approach, encouraging its users to use servers in neighboring countries.
Servers in New Zealand
TunnelBear speed NZ depends on service locations. Luckily, TunnelBear has servers in Australia and New Zealand, so it is possible to get a high-speed VPN connection. However, note that you will have to hop onto one of their paid plans, as the free version does not give access to the Australia or New Zealand servers.
With the ability to make it look like you’re visiting a website from another country, a significant selling point of many VPNs is whether they allow you to stream content that you wouldn’t be able to stream otherwise. A good example here is Netflix US, BBC iPlayer, and others.
Unfortunately, TunnelBear in NZ doesn’t do very well here. For example, BBC iPlayer doesn’t work, and visiting the channel from outside the UK, even when you spoof your location to make it look like you’re from the UK, gets you the message ‘this content is not available in your location.’
The situation is better with YouTube. As long as you connect to a US server, you can watch YouTube channels restricted to a US audience. This ability is an advantage, but then again, it’s something you’ll get with pretty much every VPN service.
Netflix US is inaccessible via a TunnelBear NZ connection. No matter the server location, Netflix seems capable of telling that you’re using a proxy. The message that comes on the screen is ‘you seem to be using an unblocker or proxy.’
The same challenge was present with Amazon Prime. You cannot access their US or UK content via the Tunnelbear VPN.
On a positive note, you can access Disney+ US from outside the US. That said, considering TunnelBear’s poor showing in other areas, this is hardly a significant victory.
Another thing to consider when streaming is network speeds. If you connect to a server located far from your physical location, it means data will have to travel a greater distance to reach you, making streaming much slower.
All VPNs have this problem, so TunnelBear isn’t unique in this respect. It falls somewhere in the middle of the park as far as streaming speeds are concerned. Unless you are specifically trying to hide your location, it’s best to connect to a nearby server when streaming.
It used to be that you couldn’t torrent with TunnelBear NZ. They used to block access to P2P transfers, which is what torrenting is. However, that is no longer the case. Torrenting works just fine with TunnelBear, and you can download content via torrents. That said, you should consider that there are many other VPN services out there optimized for fast torrenting, such as FastestVPN.
Here are some alternatives to TunnelBear NZ.
TunnelBear and Windscribe share core functionality, though their additional features differ. Windscribe, for example, allows you to connect an unlimited number of devices for some plans, while TunnelBear allows only five for all its plans.
Windscribe also has servers in 55 countries, which is twice TunnelBear’s reach. Windscribe also has a three-day money-back guarantee, while TunnelBear has none.
That said, both have similar security features. TunnelBear also has excellent usability, independent audits (which Windscribe does not), and more features overall.
These two services are close competitors, each with high-security features and compatibility across multiple platforms. TunnelBear has better customer support than ProtonVPN, which often makes it hard to contact customer support personnel.
TunnelBear NZ VPN also has higher usability with a more user-friendly interface. ProtonVPN is better at torrenting and has more locations, but TunnelBear is better at bypassing geo-restrictions like those in China and the Middle East through its GhostBear offering.
TunnelBear Free Plan
If you are looking for a free VPN NZ, TunnelBear does have an option. TunnelBear technically has a free plan, but it’s more of a free trial than anything else. You can only consume 500 MB per month on the version, which isn’t enough for most of the things you might want to do online.
It is enough, however, to give you a taste of what the service has to offer. If you do a few promotional tweets for TunnelBear, they may give you an extra 1 GB on the free plan. Still not enough for a useful free VPN NZ, but great if you want to enjoy the free service a little more and have no qualms with the work required to get that benefit.
So TunnelBear is not the best free VPN NZ. However, if you want to test TunnelBear speed NZ before starting a paid subscription, the free option can be useful.
Free Trial & Pricing
If you are looking for a free VPN in NZ, TunnelBear New Zealand may not be the best option.
Paid plans for TunnelBear start from $9.99 a month. There are cheaper plans in the marketplace, but this is average for a regular VPN.
You can also opt for more extended plans, which will significantly bring down the monthly cost. If you opt for a 1-year plan, it costs $4.99 per month, while a 3-year plan costs $3.33 per month. That said, if budget is your primary consideration, it’s possible to get cheaper plans out there.
TunnelBear in NZ accepts payments made using all the major credit cards.
That concludes our TunnelBear review. TunnelBear NZ can be an excellent VPN service, depending on what your needs are. If you don’t like edgy and complicated VPN clients, then this service is for you.
It’s been designed to be simple enough for the non-tech savvy to use. Another great thing about TunnelBear is the independent security audits, which go a long way in building the company’s credibility as a secure company.
That said, if your primary aim of getting a VPN is unblocking Netflix US and Amazon Prime US, then TunnelBear NZ won’t help much. The service also isn’t optimized for torrenting, even though it allows it.
Here are some of the most common questions for TunnelBear NZ VPN users.