A Travel Price Comparison for New Zealand Arrowtown vs. Rotorua for Hiking, Families, Couples, and Backpackers

Should you visit Arrowtown or Rotorua?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city is more affordable and which is best for your travel style? If you're trying to figure out where to go next, comparing the travel costs between Arrowtown and Rotorua can help you decide which place is right for you.

Arrowtown

Arrowtown is a charming, quaint, and quirky town. With amazing attractions and sights, it's also a fun small town not to be missed. As this is a very quaint destination, you'll find it has a special atmosphere. It's also popular because of the museums, skiing, and nightlife.

Rotorua

Rotorua is a cultural, natural, and world-renowned town. This is also a very beautiful destination which attracts plenty of visitors. Other reasons to visit include shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Arrowtown and Rotorua: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Scenic old town
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Small town charm
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty


Is there more to do in Arrowtown or Rotorua?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Arrowtown than Rotorua, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Arrowtown is better known for its skiing, historical sights, hiking, shopping, small town charm, and quaint atmosphere, while Rotorua is more popular for its museums and impressive beauty. Arrowtown is well known for its gold rush history, impressive ski slopes, and famous hikes. Also, Arrowtown is famous for the Chinese Settlement. Rotorua is well known for its geothermal activity, Maori cultural influence, and its role in the famous Lord of the Rings movies.

How is Arrowtown different from Rotorua?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Rotorua and Arrowtown. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Is Arrowtown or Rotorua Better for Skiing?

Arrowtown
Rotorua

Arrowtown is an excellent place to visit for skiing and snowboarding. However, Rotorua is not a skiing destination.

Arrowtown draws a large crowd in the winter for its impressive snow skiing opportunities. In the area you'll find amazing skiing that ranges from professional level to family-friendly.

Rotorua is not a skiing destination.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Arrowtown or Rotorua?

Arrowtown
Rotorua

Rotorua is an excellent place to visit for its museums and history. Also, Arrowtown is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its museums and landmarks.

Many visitors head to Rotorua specifically to visit some of its top-rated museums and other sights. The area is filled with opportunities to learn about the Maori culture. The Maori village of Whakarewarewa is a highlight and you should also visit Te Wairoa. Fans of Lord of the Rings won't want to miss Hobbiton either. Finally, Rotorua Museum well worth a visit.

Arrowtown offers a variety of museums and landmarks to choose from. The town feels likes a living museum with its historic sights. There's also the Lakes District Museum in town that you can visit.

Is the Food Better in Arrowtown or Rotorua? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Arrowtown
Rotorua

Local dishes at restaurants are fun to try in both Arrowtown and Rotorua.

The food selection at local restaurants is excellent in Arrowtown. For such a small town, there's a surprising number of great restaurants with award winning chefs. You'll find quaint cafes, traditional eateries, and casual restaurants where you can sample the local dishes.

Eating is part of the travel experience when you visit Rotorua. There's a wide selection of culinary options in the area that include steambox (food prepared with the geothermal heat), and hāngī, which is a traditional Maori cooking technique. Many restaurants also make use of the local fruit, vegetables, and meats.

Is Arrowtown or Rotorua Better for Nightlife?

Arrowtown
Rotorua

Both Arrowtown and Rotorua have notable vibes after the sun sets.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Arrowtown. For such a small town, there's a surprisingly bustling nightlife scene with casual pubs and waterfront bars.

Rotorua has an active nightlife scene for those who seek it out. You'll find the best concentration of bars and restaurants around Tutankei Street, which is often referred to as "Eat Street".


Is Arrowtown or Rotorua Better for its Old Town?

Arrowtown
Rotorua

Arrowtown is an excellent place to visit for its historic old town charm. However, Rotorua does not have a historic old town.

Arrowtown is an extremely popular place to visit the historic old town area. This is a quirky and charming historic mining town that has many cottages and historic buildings. Many places have been restored to maintain their original character.

Rotorua does not have a historic old town.

Is Arrowtown or Rotorua Better for Hiking?

Arrowtown
Rotorua

Arrowtown is an amazing town to visit for its hiking trails. Also, Rotorua is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its hiking experiences.

Around Arrowtown visitors will find world-class hiking trails. Many people use this town as a jumping off point for some of the world's most iconic hikes. You can explore Lord of the Rings country or do one of fifteen different listed walks in the area.

You'll find a nice variety of hiking trails around Rotorua. The area is filled with beautiful walking trails that take you by lakes, volcanoes, and geothermal hot springs. A favorite route in the area is Tarawera Trail, which is 15 kilometers long and ends at a natural hot water beach.

Is the Shopping Better in Arrowtown or Rotorua?

Arrowtown
Rotorua

Arrowtown is an excellent place to visit for its shopping areas. Also, Rotorua is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for shopping.

Many visitors explore the shopping areas in Arrowtown. Shopping is an experience in town. Head to Buckingham Street, which is the main street in town. You can wander through a wild west setting with local vendors and quirky galleries.

Rotorua is a great destination for shopping. You'll find stores and galleries selling art and crafts around the main town center.


Is Arrowtown or Rotorua Better for Families?

Arrowtown
Rotorua

Rotorua is terrific for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Arrowtown is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its family-friendly activities.

Rotorua is one of the most popular family destinations. The geothermal activity is fascinating for kids and adults alike. There are also many activities that will teach kids about the Maori culture and for animal lovers, there are farms and wildlife tours. Lord of the Rings fans won't want to miss Hobbiton, and there are many thrilling activities in the area such as white water rafting.

Arrowtown is a very kid-friendly town. Kids will enjoy the old world charm as much as adults. There's gold panning, bike trails, and even a historic Chinese village. During the winter there are snow sports and during the summer there are outdoor activities that take advantage of the nice weather.

Is Arrowtown or Rotorua Better for Couples?

Arrowtown
Rotorua

Rotorua is terrific for romance. Also, Arrowtown is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its romantic activities.

For those traveling as a couple, Rotorua has plenty to offer. The unique environment and beautiful natural setting make this a wonderful honeymoon destination. Couples will appreciate the geothermal activity, beautiful walking trails, and diverse outdoor activities. There's also horseback riding, hot springs, and helicopter rides.

Couples visit Arrowtown frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. The charming atmosphere and beautiful walks make this a great weekend destination for couples. You can take a stroll on the Arrow River Walkway or grab a meal at a quaint cafe followed by ice cream at a classic ice cream parlor.

Is Arrowtown or Rotorua Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Arrowtown
Rotorua

Rotorua is terrific for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Arrowtown is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for backpackers.

Many backpackers frequent Rotorua. Well established on the backpacker trail, there are plenty of hostels in the area and tons of activities that backpackers will enjoy.

Arrowtown is a great town to visit for backpackers. There are a couple of hostels in town and backpackers love the frequent festivals and activities that the town hosts.


Is Arrowtown or Rotorua Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Arrowtown
Rotorua

Visitors will find notable public transit in both Arrowtown and Rotorua.

Arrowtown has some public transit options. There are public buses throughout the region.

You'll find some public transit in Rotorua, but it may not be enough to take you everywhere. There are buses and shuttles that travel around town and through the area.

Is Arrowtown or Rotorua a more walkable city?

Arrowtown
Rotorua

Arrowtown and Rotorua are notable when it comes to walkability.

Arrowtown is somewhat walkable. Parts of the town are fun to explore on foot.

Rotorua is a somewhat walkable place. The town itself is fairly walkable but if you want to get into the surrounding areas, having a vehicle provides the most flexibility.

For even more information, also check out Is Arrowtown Worth Visiting? and Is Rotorua Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Rotorua or Arrowtown?

How long in Arrowtown or Rotorua?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Arrowtown and Rotorua. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Rotorua than in Arrowtown. Usually, 1-2 days is a good amount of time for Arrowtown, and 2-3 days is enough time in Rotorua.

Families should spend more time in Rotorua than Arrowtown. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Rotorua, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Rotorua than Arrowtown. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Rotorua that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Rotorua than Arrowtown if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Rotorua.


  • How many days in Arrowtown or Rotorua? Ideal Length of Stay
    Arrowtown 1-2 
    Rotorua 2-3

One day in Arrowtown or Rotorua?

Arrowtown is a small town with plenty to do. Most visitors spend time around the old town while in the area. One reason most visitors come is for the hiking. This town offers something for everyone. This would be the perfect place to spend one day, as it has just the right amount of activities.

You'll find shopping and museums around the town of Rotorua. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.


A weekend in Arrowtown or Rotorua?

Arrowtown might be a small town, but there's plenty to do in the area. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. A weekend here is typical. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. One reason most visitors come is for the hiking. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Arrowtown has to offer.

You'll find museums and nightlife around the cultural destination of Rotorua. Hikers are also drawn to this area. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend.A weekend should give you a good understanding of everything this town has to offer. This town offers a variety of activities to choose from.

Five days in Arrowtown or Rotorua?

Arrowtown is a great place to explore. The old town is one of the main draws for visitors. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. Anyone can find something fun to do here.

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the natural town of Rotorua. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. Five days is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

A week in Arrowtown or Rotorua?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Arrowtown. Since Arrowtown is a small town, it's easily explored when your time is limited. One reason most visitors come is for the hiking. Exploring the old town is a popular activity. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.

Rotorua is a popular choice for travelers. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. One week is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Contiki Tours to New Zealand, The Best G Adventures Tours to New Zealand, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Auckland, and The Best Family-Friendly Tours to New Zealand.


Which place is cheaper, Rotorua or Arrowtown?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Arrowtown is $114, while the average daily cost in Rotorua is $93. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Arrowtown and Rotorua in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Arrowtown $67
    Rotorua $48
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Arrowtown $134
    Rotorua $96
Compare Hotels in Arrowtown and Rotorua

Looking for a hotel in Arrowtown or Rotorua? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Arrowtown


Hotels in Rotorua


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Arrowtown Hotel Prices and Rotorua Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Arrowtown $27
    Rotorua $5.01

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Rotorua

Also for Rotorua, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Rotorua to Auckland Afternoon Transfer with Waitomo Glow Worms: $181

Is it cheaper to fly into Arrowtown or Rotorua?

Prices for flights to both Rotorua and Arrowtown change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Arrowtown $30
    Rotorua $29

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Rotorua

For Rotorua, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Mitai Maori Village: Cultural Experience and Dinner Buffet: $92
  • Te Pa Tu Māori Cultural Experience with Dinner: $155

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Arrowtown $15
    Rotorua $34

Tours and Activities in Arrowtown

For Arrowtown, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Queenstown: Arrowtown Mountain Biking Adventure: $53

Typical Entertainment Prices in Rotorua

Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for Rotorua's activities, tours, and tickets:


  • Lunch Out for Two
    $27

Tours and Activities in Rotorua

For Rotorua, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Agrodome Farm Experience including Farm Show and Farm Tour - Rotorua: $30
  • Cultural Experience & Seasonal Māori Cuisine at Te Pā Tū : $157
  • From Hobbiton Movie Set Tour with Festive Lunch: $154
  • From Wai O Tapu & Waimangu Eco Thermal Morning Tour: $91
  • From Wai-O-Tapu, Waimangu and Te Puia Full-Day Tour: $193
  • Geothermal Adults Only Mineral Bathing - Pavilion Pools Bathing Ticket: $27
  • Geothermal Lakeside Bathing Experience - Deluxe Lake Spa: $45
  • Geothermal Mineral Baths Experience: Pavilion Pools for 12+: $27
  • Hells Gate Mud Bath and Sulphur Spa Experience: $51
  • Hobbiton Day Tour from Rotorua with lunch at Hobbiton: $156
  • Kaituna River: 3.5-Hour White Water Sledging Experience: $77
  • Kaituna River: Whitewater Rafting Experience: $65

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Arrowtown $13
    Rotorua $12

Sample the Local Flavors in Arrowtown

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Arrowtown:

  • From Scenic Valley of the Vines Bike & Wine Tour: $89

Typical Alcohol Prices in Rotorua

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for alcohol and nightlife costs in Rotorua:


  • Bottle of Wine
    $11


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Arrowtown and Rotorua, we can see that Arrowtown is more expensive. And not only is Rotorua much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Rotorua would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Rotorua and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Arrowtown would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Arrowtown than you might in Rotorua.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Arrowtown Expensive? and Is Rotorua Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Arrowtown or Rotorua?

Rotorua has a larger population, and is about 30 times larger than the population of Arrowtown. When comparing the sizes of Arrowtown and Rotorua, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.