A Travel Price Comparison for New Zealand Christchurch vs. Milford Sound for Hiking, Families, Couples, and Backpackers

Should you visit Christchurch or Milford Sound?

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

Should I visit Christchurch or Milford Sound? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Christchurch

Christchurch is a adventure-filled, cultural, and outdoorsy city. It offers plenty of beauty for visitors. It's also popular because of the museums, nightlife, and food.

Milford Sound

Milford Sound is a remote, iconic, and breathtaking fiord. The famous beauty of this place is one of the main draws. And you can't forget about the skiing and hiking.

Christchurch and Milford Sound: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Very walkable
Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for food
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in Christchurch or Milford Sound?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Christchurch. Although Christchurch and Milford Sound are both popular with visitors, Christchurch has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Christchurch is more popular for its museums, food, nightlife, beaches, and shopping, while Milford Sound is known for its skiing, hiking, and impressive beauty. Christchurch is popular for its outdoor beauty and relaxing, scenic atmosphere. It is also home to the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Milford Sound is popular for its iconic hiking trails, stunning boat tours, and dramatic mountains.

How is Christchurch different from Milford Sound?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Christchurch or Milford Sound Better for Skiing?

Christchurch
Milford Sound

Milford Sound is well known for winter skiing. However, Christchurch is not a skiing destination.

People head to Milford Sound specifically to take advantage of the area's skiing and winter sports. Many locals head to the snow-capped peaks to enjoy skiing, but if you're unfamiliar with the area, a ski tour is your best option.

Christchurch is not a skiing destination.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Christchurch or Milford Sound?

Christchurch
Milford Sound

Christchurch is an excellent place to visit for its museums and history. However, Milford Sound does not have museums and landmarks.

Visitors can fill many days exploring the museums and attractions around Christchurch. The city is filled with street art and local galleries. There's also Canterbury Museum, the International Antarctic Centre, the Arts Centre, and the Riccarton House & Bush.

Milford Sound does not have museums and landmarks.

Is the Food Better in Christchurch or Milford Sound? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Christchurch
Milford Sound

Christchurch is an excellent place to visit for its restaurants. However, Milford Sound is lacking in options for its restaurant scene.

Christchurch has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. There's a mix of cozy cafes and casual eateries around town. You'll also find some fine dining restaurants as well as international flavors.

While Milford Sound is not famous for its food, you'll find what you need there. You'll find a restaurant or two in the small town of Milford Sound. Your best option is the Milford Sound Lodge. In the park you'll want to come prepared with your own food. Many organized tours include a picnic lunch.

Is Christchurch or Milford Sound Better for Nightlife?

Christchurch
Milford Sound

Christchurch is an excellent place to visit for its evening party scene. However, Milford Sound is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.

Christchurch has a lively atmosphere and nightlife is popular here. The city has its share of dance clubs, live music venues, and laid back bars. You'll find a number of popular hangout spots around Oxford Terrace or on the historic New Regent Street.

Milford Sound is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.


Is Christchurch or Milford Sound Better for Beaches?

Christchurch
Milford Sound

Christchurch is an excellent place to visit for the beach. However, Milford Sound is not a beach destination.

Many people visit Christchurch for it's beautiful beaches. There are sandy beaches in the area with water sports and various amenities. The summer months are the most popular time for hanging out at the beach, and you'll find local families playing in the sun or enjoying a picnic.

Milford Sound is not a beach destination.

Is Christchurch or Milford Sound Better for Hiking?

Christchurch
Milford Sound

Milford Sound is terrific for its hiking experiences. Also, Christchurch is still popular, but not quite as popular for hiking.

People visit Milford Sound specifically for its hiking, as the natural beauty is well-known. The Milford Track has long been considered one of the world's best hikes. It's also, arguably, the most famous hike in New Zealand. The 53 kilometer trek takes you from Lake Te Anau through stunning scenery, alpine settings, and across spectacular suspension bridges.

Many visitors go to Christchurch for the hiking trails. There are many beautiful hikes in the area that take you along the coastline or past local historic sights. The landscape is diverse and you'll find many amazing parks in the area. Hooker Valley Track is one of the best hiking routes nearby.

Is the Shopping Better in Christchurch or Milford Sound?

Christchurch
Milford Sound

Christchurch is an excellent place to visit for its shopping areas. However, Milford Sound is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Many visitors explore the shopping areas in Christchurch. There's a mix of boutique shops, outlet malls, and open air markets. Some of the best shopping places include the Tannery and the Colombo.

Milford Sound is not a noteworthy shopping destination.


Is Christchurch or Milford Sound Better for Families?

Christchurch
Milford Sound

Christchurch is an amazing city to visit for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Milford Sound is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its family-friendly activities.

With a huge array of activities for kids, Christchurch is very family-friendly. The International Antarctic Centre is a thrilling and fun experience. There's also the Orana Wildlife Park or Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. For adrenaline junkies there are the ropes courses at the Adrenalin Forest. There are also many indoor playgrounds and rock climbing facilities.

Milford Sound is a very family-friendly place to visit. The outdoor wonders will impress the kids as much as the adults. There are shorter walks that are family-friendly and the boat rides are also fun for the whole family. You can take a scenic flight or visit the stunning Mirror Lakes. This really is a playground for both kids and adults.

Is Christchurch or Milford Sound Better for Couples?

Christchurch
Milford Sound

With fun activities for couples, both Christchurch and Milford Sound make for a superb place to visit.

Couples visit Christchurch frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. Punting on the Avon River is one of the most romantic activities in the city. There are also botanical gardens, parks, and natural areas that are fun to explore. Nearby, you can do a wine tour, or there are cocktail bars and charming restaurants in town. The city also has a nice theater and many other date night activities.

Milford Sound is a great city if you're traveling as a couple. This is one of the most stunning natural areas in the world, and the romance comes from the spectacular beauty, world class hikes, and breathtaking surroundings that will leave you awed and inspired.

Is Christchurch or Milford Sound Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Christchurch
Milford Sound

Christchurch is an excellent place to visit for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Milford Sound is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for backpackers.

Plenty of budget travelers and backpackers visit Christchurch. There's no shortage of hostels around town, and many backpackers pass through Christchurch on their epic New Zealand adventure.

Plenty of budget travelers visit Milford Sound. The area's remoteness and high price tag make it a bit challenging for backpackers and budget travelers. If you have plenty of time and enough money, it is truly a not to be missed destination.


Is Christchurch or Milford Sound Better for Students?

Christchurch
Milford Sound

Christchurch is an excellent place to visit for its student-friendly activities. However, Milford Sound is not popular with students.

Many students visit Christchurch. It's the largest city on the South Island and there are plenty of activities and nearby trips that you can enjoy.

Milford Sound is not popular with students.

Is Christchurch or Milford Sound Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Christchurch
Milford Sound

Christchurch is a good destination for times when you don't have a car. However, Milford Sound is lacking in options for its public transit.

Christchurch has some public transit options. While it's not a diverse transit system, the buses are well connected and offer the cheapest way to get around town.

Public transit is generally limited in Milford Sound. There are buses in the area, but private vehicles or organized tours are your best option for getting around.

Is Christchurch or Milford Sound a more walkable city?

Christchurch
Milford Sound

Christchurch is an excellent place to visit for its ease of walking around. However, Milford Sound is lacking in options for its walkability.

Christchurch is a very walkable destination. The city center is relatively flat and easy to explore on foot.

Milford Sound is not a walkable city. This is one of the most remote places in New Zealand so you really must have a car or organized transportation to get around.


For even more information, also check out Is Christchurch Worth Visiting? and Is Milford Sound Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Milford Sound or Christchurch?

How long in Christchurch or Milford Sound?

Christchurch and Milford Sound both offer a nice selection of activities for visitors. Many travelers usually spend more of their time in Milford Sound than Christchurch because of the number of activities and things to do in the area. Usually, 2-4 days is a good amount of time for Christchurch, and 2-6 days is enough time in Milford Sound.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Christchurch than Milford Sound 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 Christchurch.


  • How many days in Christchurch or Milford Sound? Ideal Length of Stay
    Christchurch 2-4 
    Milford Sound 2-6

One day in Christchurch or Milford Sound?

Many travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the adventure-filled destination of Christchurch. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. Your budget might influence how long you stay. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it.

In Milford Sound, many people enjoy the skiing that this remote fiord offers. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything.

A weekend in Christchurch or Milford Sound?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Christchurch. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do. For many, it makes a great getaway for a weekend. A weekend is usually enough time to experience most activities.

Milford Sound is a fun place to experience. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. If you have a weekend, this is a great place to go. It will give you the chance to have new experiences. Lots of people come for the hiking. So, a weekend is just the right amount of time to spend here.

Five days in Christchurch or Milford Sound?

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the cultural destination of Christchurch. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Five days 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.

In Milford Sound, many people enjoy the skiing that this world renowned destination offers. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. Plenty of people spend five days in the area when traveling. Lots of people come for the hiking. So, five days is just the right amount of time to spend here.


A week in Christchurch or Milford Sound?

You'll find food and shopping around the city of Christchurch. People usually spend lots of time at the beach. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.

Milford Sound is a popular place to visit. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.


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


Which place is cheaper, Milford Sound or Christchurch?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Christchurch is $95, while the average daily cost in Milford Sound is $117. 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 Christchurch and Milford Sound in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Christchurch $49
    Milford Sound $67
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Christchurch $98
    Milford Sound $134
Compare Hotels in Christchurch and Milford Sound

Looking for a hotel in Christchurch or Milford Sound? 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 Christchurch


Hotels in Milford Sound


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: Christchurch Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Christchurch $14
    Milford Sound $14

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Christchurch

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Christchurch:

  • Private Transfer from Lyttelton Port to Christchurch Airport CHC: $29
  • Christchurch to Christchurch Airport(CHC)- Departure Transfer: $32
  • Christchurch City Hotels to Airport Transfer - Lowest price 1 to 9 Passengers: $79
  • Christchurch City Hotels to Airport Transfer - Lowest price 1 to 4 Pax & 2 Bags: $54
  • Christchurch Airport: 1-Way Private Transfer to Christchurch: $69
  • Christchurch Airport Transfers : Christchurch to Airport CHC in Luxury Van: $90
  • Christchurch Airport Transfers : Christchurch to Airport CHC in Business Car: $65
  • Christchurch Airport (CHC): Transfer to Christchurch hotels: $129
  • Arrival Private Transfer from Airport CHC to Christchurch in Luxury Van: $90
  • Arrival Private Transfer from Airport CHC to Christchurch in Business Car: $65

Is it cheaper to fly into Christchurch or Milford Sound?

Prices for flights to both Milford Sound and Christchurch 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
    Christchurch $31
    Milford Sound $34

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Christchurch $17
    Milford Sound $38

Tours and Activities in Christchurch

Here are a few actual costs in Christchurch for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • Christchurch Gondola Ride Ticket: $25
  • (MT) Mount Cook Return Day Tour Via Lake Tekapo from Christchurch: $181
  • Akaroa Day Tour From Christchurch: $112
  • Akaroa Full Day Sightseeing Tour from Christchurch: $151
  • Arthur's Pass and TranzAlpine Train Day Tour from Christchurch: $251
  • Arthur's Pass: TranzAlpine Train and Castle Hill Day Tour: $233
  • Arthurs Pass Day Tour With TranzAlpine and Jet Boat Ride : $230
  • Chairlift Sightseeing Pass at the Christchurch Adventure Park: $17
  • Christchurch Gondola and Tram City Tour Combo: $41
  • Christchurch International Antarctic Centre Entry Tickets: $35
  • Christchurch Scenic Helicopter Tour: $190
  • Christchurch Tram City Tour & Punting Combo: $45

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Christchurch $11
    Milford Sound $13

Sample the Local Flavors in Christchurch

Also in Christchurch, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • From Full-Day Wine Tour with Lunch: $99
  • Lyttelton Shore Excursion - Waipara Wine Tour With Lunch: $103
  • All-Inclusive Waipara Region Wine Tour from Christchurch: $106
  • From Guided Local Wine Tours in Waipara: $118
  • Akaroa Craft Distillery HeliGin Experience: $527


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Christchurch and Milford Sound, we can see that Milford Sound is more expensive. And not only is Christchurch much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Christchurch would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Christchurch 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 Milford Sound would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Milford Sound than you might in Christchurch.

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


Which is Bigger, Christchurch or Milford Sound?

Christchurch has a larger population, and is about 840 times larger than the population of Milford Sound. When comparing the sizes of Christchurch and Milford Sound, 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.