A Travel Price Comparison for New Zealand Dunedin vs. Queenstown for Food, Hiking, Couples, and Backpackers

Should you visit Dunedin or Queenstown?

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

Should I visit Dunedin or Queenstown? 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.

Dunedin

Dunedin is a cultural, vibrant, and small city. It's also known for nightlife, food, and beaches.

Queenstown

Queenstown is a nature-oriented, spirited, and bustling city. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. Other popular activities here include food, hiking, and shopping.

Dunedin and Queenstown: Pros and Cons

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


Is there more to do in Dunedin or Queenstown?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Queenstown than Dunedin, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Queenstown is better known for its skiing, food, hiking, and impressive beauty, while Dunedin is more popular for its museums and beaches. Queenstown is more touristy than Dunedin and is known for its world class skiing, adrenaline-filled adventure sports, and stunning mountain scenery. Also, Queenstown is famous for Kawarau Bridge. Dunedin is well known for its wildlife and proximity to the Otago Peninsula.

How is Dunedin different from Queenstown?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Dunedin or Queenstown Better for Skiing?

Dunedin
Queenstown

Queenstown is an unbeatable place for winter skiing. However, Dunedin is not a skiing destination.

If you're an avid snow skiier, Queenstown should be on your list. There are four ski areas that are near the city, and many consider these among the best ski fields in New Zealand. The ski season runs from June until October and the skiing is world class.

Dunedin is not a skiing destination.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Dunedin or Queenstown?

Dunedin
Queenstown

Dunedin is a well-known place for its sights and museums. However, Queenstown is not a good city for its museums and history.

Visitors can fill many days exploring the museums and attractions around Dunedin. The city has cultural scene that is centered around both Scottish and Maori heritage. Top sights around town include the Larnach Castle, the Dunedin Railway Station, Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, and the Otago Museum.

While most people don't head to Queenstown specifically for the museums and attractions, it does offer a few options. People head to this city for its amazing outdoor activities, but you won't find much if you're looking for museums. You can check out the Lakes District Museum though.

Is the Food Better in Dunedin or Queenstown? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Dunedin
Queenstown

Queenstown is an unbeatable place for its restaurant scene. Also, Dunedin is still popular, but not quite as popular for its local flavors and cuisine.

For foodies, Queenstown is an obvious choice, as it is one of the food capitals of the world. Located in the heart of the Otago wine region, this city has many award-winning restaurants. Local dishes, vegan cafes, and international flavors all make for a cosmopolitan and world class dining scene.

There are plenty of up and coming restaurants around Dunedin. The culinary scene in town continues to grow and improve. There are local eateries that have charm and character and serve interesting and local dishes.

Is Dunedin or Queenstown Better for Nightlife?

Dunedin
Queenstown

Party-goers will find similar levels of energy in Dunedin and Queenstown.

Dunedin is a popular destination for visitors looking to party into the night. The town has eclectic bars and a diverse club scene that is fun to experience. It has a lively nightlife scene that is driven, in part, by the large student population.

Many people head to Queenstown for the nightlife scene. This cosmopolitan town has some of the best nightlife in the country. There are laid back pubs, trendy cocktail bars, and live music venues that make for a fun night out.


Is Dunedin or Queenstown Better for Beaches?

Dunedin
Queenstown

Dunedin is a good destination for its beaches. However, Queenstown is not a beach destination.

Dunedin offers a nice beach destination. Many of the beaches are just a short drive from the city center. The surf is surprisingly good and the beaches are fun during the warmer summer months.

Queenstown is not a beach destination.

Is Dunedin or Queenstown Better for Hiking?

Dunedin
Queenstown

Queenstown is an unbeatable place for its hiking experiences. Also, Dunedin is still popular, but not quite as popular for hiking.

People visit Queenstown specifically for its hiking, as the natural beauty is well-known. The city is ideally located near some of the country's best hiking. There are walks through beech forests, along rugged mountains, and to stunning views. Several of the Great Walks are in the area as well, but if you're looking for something a little simpler, then there are many options also.

Many people include a hike when visiting Dunedin. There are biking and hiking trails that travel around town and through the surrounding landscapes.

Is the Shopping Better in Dunedin or Queenstown?

Dunedin
Queenstown

Shopping is a popular activity in both Queenstown and Dunedin.

Browsing through shops is a popular activity in Dunedin. The shopping scene is diverse and eclectic with everything from vintage shops to fashion boutiques. Some of the most popular shopping areas are Edinburgh Way, Octagon Entertainment Precinct, Moray Place, and the Warehouse Precinct.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Queenstown. It's a bustling city with designer brands and boutique shopping. There are also souvenir shops and retail outlets.


Is Dunedin or Queenstown Better for Families?

Dunedin
Queenstown

Kids will enjoy a visit to either Dunedin or Queenstown.

Dunedin is known to be a very family-friendly place to visit. It's one of the largest cities on the South Island, and there are many educational opportunities and unique experiences available to kids. You can visit the Otago Museum or the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, take a wildlife cruise, or visit the Larnach Castle. You can also take a ride on the Inlander or simply hang out at a playground.

Queenstown is a very family-friendly destination. Kids will enjoy the Queenstown cable car and the Skyline Gondola. After a ride on the gondola, you can even take the luge back down! The city also offers lake cruises, family-friendly farm tours, boat tours, and kayaking.

Is Dunedin or Queenstown Better for Couples?

Dunedin
Queenstown

Queenstown is an unbeatable place for couples. Also, Dunedin is still popular, but not quite as popular for romance.

Queenstown makes for a terrific place to visit as a couple. The city is known for its adrenaline-filled adventure activities and couples who enjoy a thrill will appreciate the fun. There are also hot springs, boat cruises, and wine tours in the area. One of the most romantic activities is dinner at the Skyline.

Dunedin is a nice destination for couples. You can wander through the castle or explore one of the city's markets. There are also romantic restaurants and many opportunities to see wildlife.

Is Dunedin or Queenstown Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Dunedin
Queenstown

Queenstown is an unbeatable place for backpackers. Also, Dunedin is still popular, but not quite as popular for backpackers and budget travelers.

Queenstown is a very popular city to visit for backpackers. With its thrill-seeking activities and nearby skiing, this is a great backpacker destination year round.

Dunedin is very popular with the backpacker crowd. There are many hostels around town and plenty of activities that keep backpackers entertained.


Is Dunedin or Queenstown Better for Students?

Dunedin
Queenstown

Dunedin and Queenstown are superb places to visit for students.

Dunedin is a very popular city for students and younger travelers. This is a large student city that is welcoming to international students and a popular place to study.

Queenstown is very popular with students. There are excellent universities in the area as well as fun activities and a lively energy that students enjoy.

Is Dunedin or Queenstown Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Dunedin
Queenstown

You'll find somewhat comparable public transit options in both Dunedin and Queenstown.

You'll find some public transit in Dunedin, but it may not be enough to take you everywhere. There a relatively decent bus system that travels through town.

While Queenstown offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. There's a decent bus system that travels around town.

Is Dunedin or Queenstown a more walkable city?

Dunedin
Queenstown

Dunedin and Queenstown both are superb when exploring on foot.

Dunedin is a very walkable destination. Parts of the town are easy to explore on foot.

Queenstown is very walkable. In town, many of the sights and activities can be reached on foot.


For even more information, also check out Is Dunedin Worth Visiting? and Is Queenstown Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Queenstown or Dunedin?

How long in Dunedin or Queenstown?

Both Dunedin and Queenstown have a number of activities to choose from. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Queenstown than in Dunedin. Usually, 1-3 days is a good amount of time for Dunedin, and 2-7 days is enough time in Queenstown.

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Queenstown than Dunedin 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 Queenstown.


  • How many days in Dunedin or Queenstown? Ideal Length of Stay
    Dunedin 1-3 
    Queenstown 2-7

One day in Dunedin or Queenstown?

With museums and nightlife around the cultural city of Dunedin, there's plenty to do. Anyone can find something fun to do here. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Dunedin, one day is sufficent for most.

In Queenstown, you'll find skiing and nightlife. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. This city offers something for everyone. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

A weekend in Dunedin or Queenstown?

With nightlife and food around the destination of Dunedin, there's plenty to do. It offers something for everyone. Many people spend a weekend here. In a weekend, you should have a good grasp of this city.

In Queenstown, you'll find nightlife and food. 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. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Queenstown has to offer.

Five days in Dunedin or Queenstown?

Dunedin, a popular city, is full of activities for travelers. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Queenstown is a great place to explore. It is common to spend five days here. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Five days is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Queenstown has to offer. Anyone can find something fun to do here.


A week in Dunedin or Queenstown?

Dunedin is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Queenstown. In Queenstown, you'll find shopping and skiing. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. With all of its activities, you can easily fill one week here.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Adventure Tours to New Zealand, The Best Eco Tours in New Zealand, The Best Thrill-Seeking Tours in New Zealand, and The Best Romantic Tours for Couples in New Zealand.


Which place is cheaper, Queenstown or Dunedin?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Dunedin is $103, while the average daily cost in Queenstown is $105. 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 Dunedin and Queenstown in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Dunedin $52
    Queenstown $56
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Dunedin $104
    Queenstown $112
Compare Hotels in Dunedin and Queenstown

Looking for a hotel in Dunedin or Queenstown? 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 Dunedin


Hotels in Queenstown


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: Dunedin Hotel Prices and Queenstown Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Dunedin $28
    Queenstown $10

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Dunedin

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Dunedin:

  • Dunedin to Dunedin Int Airport (DUD) - Departure Private Transfer: $36
  • Private Transfer from Chalmers Cruise Port to Dunedin City Hotels: $44
  • Private Transfer from Chalmers Port to Dunedin Airport (DUD): $44
  • Dunedin Int Airport(DUD) to Dunedin - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $73
  • Momona Airport: One-Way Private Transfer to Momona: $90
  • ONE WAY MOMONA: Transfer from /to Dunedin Airport: $125

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Queenstown

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Queenstown:

  • From Mount Cook Transfer w/ Guided Landmark Tour: $105
  • Private Transfer from Queenstown Central to Wanaka: $182
  • Private Transfer from Queenstown to Milford Sound Cruise Port: $168
  • Private Transfer from Wanaka to Queenstown Airport: $182
  • Private Transfer from Wanaka to Queenstown Central: $182
  • Queenstown Airport: One-Way Private Transfer to Queenstown: $68
  • Milford Sound Cruise with Helicopter Transfer: $746
  • Tasman Glacier Helihike with Flight Transfers: $902

Is it cheaper to fly into Dunedin or Queenstown?

Prices for flights to both Queenstown and Dunedin 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
    Dunedin $29
    Queenstown $36

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Queenstown

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Queenstown.

  • Bar Crawl with 5 Free Shots and Pizza: $18
  • Dinner at Walter Peak High Country Farm and Cruise from Queenstown: $117

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Dunedin $17
    Queenstown $22

Tours and Activities in Dunedin

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

  • Dunedin Self-Guided Audio Tour: $14
  • Dunedin Self-Guided Audio Tour: $14
  • Olveston Historic Home Guided Tour: $15
  • Skip the Line: Larnach Castle & Gardens Admission Ticket: $28
  • Heritage Dunedin City Walking Guided Tour: $31
  • Garden and City tour: $37
  • Monarch Wildlife Cruise: $39
  • Shore Excursion: V8 Trike, Peninsula and City Tour: $49
  • Larnach Castle & Gardens Tour from Dunedin: $54
  • Nature and City Tour: $55
  • A 2 hour Small Group Dunedin City Highlights Tour: $58
  • Wildlife Cruise with Transport: $65

Typical Entertainment Prices in Queenstown

Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Queenstown are as follows:


  • Skyline Gondola (for 2)
    $30

Tours and Activities in Queenstown

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Queenstown are as follows:

  • Time Tripper Underwater Experience: $9.02
  • Skip the Line: Odyssey Sensory Maze Entry Queenstown Ticket: $20
  • Private Race Car Simulation Experience: $20
  • Gibbston Valley Wines - Winery Tour: $23
  • Fear Factory Haunted House Admission Ticket: $24
  • Escape Adventure AR Experience in Queenstown: $24
  • Minus 5 Ice Bar Experience with Drink Options: $25
  • Go Karts - Highlands Motorsport and Tourism Park: $30
  • Lake Wakatipu Scenic Cruise: $35
  • Scenic Queenstown Lake Cruise : $36
  • Million Dollar Cruise in Queenstown: $36
  • Ride to Riches: Arrowtown-Queenstown Bike Tour + Shuttle: $42

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Dunedin $14
    Queenstown $8.98

Sample the Local Flavors in Dunedin

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Dunedin:

  • Speight Brewery Small Group Guided Tour from Dunedin: $22
  • Emerson's Brewery Tour: $25

Sample the Local Flavors in Queenstown

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Queenstown:

  • Ice Bar Crawl: $24
  • Queenstown & Gibbston Valley: Hop-On Hop-Off Wine Tours: $54
  • Hop on Hop off Wine Tours Bannockburn - departing Queenstown: $61
  • Afternoon brewery tour with lunch: $111
  • Afternoon Wine Tasting Tour with 3 Wineries: $111
  • Classic Wine Tour: $120
  • Queenstown Classic Wine Tour: 3 Vineyards, Caves and Cheeseboard: $123
  • Wine Tasting Tour: $132
  • Afternoon Boutique Wine Tour: $135
  • The Ultimate Luxury Hop on Hop off Wine Tour: $142
  • Central Otago Wine Tour from Queenstown Including Lunch: $147
  • Wine Tour & Maori Culture Queenstown: $154


When comparing the travel costs between Dunedin and Queenstown, we can see that Queenstown is more expensive. However, the two cities are actually relatively comparable in price, as the difference is somewhat minimal. Generally, this means that you could travel with generally the same travel style and level of luxury in each place. Since both cities are in Pacific, it's no surprise that their costs are relatively close, as many destinations here have somewhat similar travel prices overall.

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


Which is Bigger, Dunedin or Queenstown?

Dunedin has a larger population, and is about 10 times larger than the population of Queenstown. When comparing the sizes of Dunedin and Queenstown, 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.