A Travel Price Comparison for New Zealand Dunedin vs. Rotorua for Families, Couples, Backpackers, and Attractions

Should you visit Dunedin or Rotorua?

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

Should I visit Dunedin or Rotorua? 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 vibrant, small, and hilly city. It's also popular because of the museums, nightlife, and food.

Rotorua

Rotorua is a natural, world-renowned, and diverse town. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. Other popular activities here include hiking, shopping, and museums.

Dunedin and Rotorua: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with couples
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 Dunedin or Rotorua?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Dunedin than Rotorua. It is bigger and it has more sights, attractions, and activities for travelers. Dunedin is very popular for its nightlife, beaches, and shopping, while Rotorua attracts visitors for its food, hiking, and impressive beauty. Rotorua is more touristy than Dunedin and is popular for its geothermal activity, Maori cultural influence, and its role in the famous Lord of the Rings movies. Dunedin is famous for its wildlife and proximity to the Otago Peninsula. It is also well known for .


How is Dunedin different from Rotorua?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

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

Dunedin
Rotorua

For an educational experience, head to a museum or a notable sight in either Dunedin or Rotorua.

Dunedin offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. 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.

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.


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

Dunedin
Rotorua

Rotorua is well known for its restaurant scene. Also, Dunedin is still popular, but not quite as popular for its local flavors and cuisine.

Dining out in Rotorua is an experience not to be missed. 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.

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 Rotorua Better for Nightlife?

Dunedin
Rotorua

Dunedin is an excellent place to visit for its evening party scene. Also, Rotorua is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for nightlife.

Dunedin has a lively atmosphere and nightlife is popular here. 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.

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 Dunedin or Rotorua Better for Beaches?

Dunedin
Rotorua

Dunedin is a city with good options for the beach. However, Rotorua is not a beach destination.

Plenty of visitors enjoy relaxing on the beach in Dunedin. 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.

Rotorua is not a beach destination.


Is Dunedin or Rotorua Better for Hiking?

Dunedin
Rotorua

Rotorua is well known for its hiking experiences. Also, Dunedin is still popular, but not quite as popular for hiking.

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.

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 Rotorua?

Dunedin
Rotorua

Dunedin 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 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.

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

Is Dunedin or Rotorua Better for Families?

Dunedin
Rotorua

Rotorua is an unbeatable place for its family-friendly activities. Also, Dunedin is still popular, but not quite as popular for its kid-friendly activities.

As it has a large number of activities for kids, Rotorua is a very family-friendly destination. 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.

Dunedin is a very family-friendly destination. 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.


Is Dunedin or Rotorua Better for Couples?

Dunedin
Rotorua

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

Rotorua makes for a terrific place to visit as a couple. 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.

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 Rotorua Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Dunedin
Rotorua

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

Rotorua is a very popular town to visit for backpackers. Well established on the backpacker trail, there are plenty of hostels in the area and tons of activities that backpackers will enjoy.

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 Rotorua Better for Students?

Dunedin
Rotorua

Dunedin is an excellent place to visit for its student-friendly activities. However, Rotorua is not popular with students.

Students come from all over to stay in Dunedin. This is a large student city that is welcoming to international students and a popular place to study.

Rotorua is not popular with students.


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

Dunedin
Rotorua

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

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 Rotorua offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. There are buses and shuttles that travel around town and through the area.

Is Dunedin or Rotorua a more walkable city?

Dunedin
Rotorua

Dunedin is an excellent place to visit for its ease of walking around. Also, Rotorua is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its walkability.

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

Rotorua is somewhat walkable. 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 Dunedin Worth Visiting? and Is Rotorua Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Rotorua or Dunedin?

How long in Dunedin or Rotorua?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Dunedin and Rotorua. You can spend similar amounts of time exploring each one. In general, 1-3 days is a good amount of time for Dunedin, and 2-3 days is enough time in Rotorua.

Families should spend more time in Rotorua than Dunedin. 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 Dunedin. 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 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 Rotorua.


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

One day in Dunedin or Rotorua?

In Dunedin, you'll find nightlife and food. This city offers something for everyone. This would be the perfect place to spend one day, as it has just the right amount of activities.

In Rotorua, you'll find nightlife and food. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. This town 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 Rotorua?

In Dunedin, you'll find food and shopping. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. A weekend here is typical. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Dunedin has to offer.

In Rotorua, you'll find food and shopping. 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 Rotorua has to offer.

Five days in Dunedin or Rotorua?

Dunedin is a great place to explore. 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.

Rotorua is a great place to explore. Hikers are also drawn to this area. 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.

A week in Dunedin or Rotorua?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Dunedin. Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Dunedin. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Rotorua. Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Rotorua. 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.


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


Which place is cheaper, Rotorua 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 Rotorua is $94. 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 Rotorua in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Dunedin $52
    Rotorua $49
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Dunedin $104
    Rotorua $98
Compare Hotels in Dunedin and Rotorua

Looking for a hotel in Dunedin 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 Dunedin


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: Dunedin Hotel Prices and Rotorua Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Dunedin $28
    Rotorua $5.07

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Dunedin

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Dunedin:

  • Private Transfer from Chalmers Port to Dunedin Airport (DUD): $44
  • Private Transfer from Chalmers Cruise Port to Dunedin City Hotels: $44
  • ONE WAY MOMONA: Transfer from /to Dunedin Airport: $125
  • Dunedin to Dunedin Int Airport (DUD) - Departure Private Transfer: $37
  • Arrival Private Transfer in Dunedin Intl Airport to Dunedin : $37

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: $183

Is it cheaper to fly into Dunedin or Rotorua?

Prices for flights to both Rotorua 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
    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: $95
  • Te Pa Tu Māori Cultural Experience with Dinner: $160

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Dunedin $17
    Rotorua $34

Tours and Activities in Dunedin

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

  • Shore Excursion: V8 Trike, Peninsula and City Tour: $50
  • A 2 hour Small Group Dunedin City Highlights Tour: $59
  • Albatross, Wildlife and Harbour Cruise: $106
  • Captivating Side of Dunedin Walking Tour for Couples: $277
  • Castle, Coast & City Small Group Tour (8 pax max): $124
  • Clearwater Wildlife - Small Guided Tours (10 max) Otago Peninsula: $109
  • Cruise Dunedin City and Castle Tour: $115
  • Dunedin Adventure: Family Heritage & Nature Walk: $176
  • Dunedin City Highlights, Otago Peninsula Scenery & Albatross Guided Tour: $166
  • Dunedin City Highlights, Otago Peninsula Scenery & a Guided Penguin Reserve Tour: $169
  • Dunedin City and Coastal Views 3-Hour Small-Group Guided Tour: $84
  • Dunedin Self-Guided Audio Tour: $14

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
    $28

Tours and Activities in Rotorua

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

  • Jade Carving Experience at a Local Studio: $21
  • Whaka Geothermal Trails Self-Guided Tour: $22
  • Government Gardens Walking Tour: $23
  • Geothermal Mineral Baths Experience: Pavilion Pools for 12+: $28
  • Whakarewarewa Village Guided Tour: $28
  • Geothermal Adults Only Mineral Bathing - Pavilion Pools Bathing Ticket: $28
  • Whakarewarewa Village Guided Tour: $28
  • Waimangu Volcanic Valley Entry Ticket: $28
  • Agrodome Farm Tour with Show and Produce Tasting: $30
  • Agrodome Farm Experience including Farm Show and Farm Tour - Rotorua: $31
  • The National Kiwi Hatchery Tour: $36
  • National Kiwi Hatchery - Kiwi Encounter Tour: $38

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Dunedin $14
    Rotorua $12

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

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 comparing the travel costs between Dunedin and Rotorua, we can see that Dunedin 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 Rotorua Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Dunedin or Rotorua?

Dunedin has a larger population, and is about 74% larger than the population of Rotorua. When comparing the sizes of Dunedin 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.