A Travel Price Comparison for New Zealand Dunedin vs. Tauranga for Families, Backpackers, Attractions, and Nightlife

Should you visit Dunedin or Tauranga?

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

Should I visit Dunedin or Tauranga? 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. Other popular activities here include beaches, hiking, and shopping.

Tauranga

Tauranga is a nature-filled, coastal, and laid back town. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. Other popular activities here include beaches, hiking, and shopping.

Dunedin and Tauranga: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • 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 Tauranga?

Both Tauranga and Dunedin have plenty of things to do for visitors. Both offer a variety of sights, activities, and attractions for tourists. Dunedin is very popular for its museums, nightlife, and shopping, while Tauranga attracts visitors for its beaches, hiking, and impressive beauty. Tauranga is more touristy than Dunedin and is known for its sandy beaches and beautiful walking trails. Dunedin is famous for its wildlife and proximity to the Otago Peninsula.

How is Dunedin different from Tauranga?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Tauranga 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 Tauranga?

Dunedin
Tauranga

Dunedin is a well-known place for its sights and museums. Also, Tauranga is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its museums and history.

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.

Tauranga is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. There are a number of historic buildings in town like the Elms Mission Station which dates back to 1847.


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

Dunedin
Tauranga

Dining out at restaurants in both Dunedin and Tauranga can be an enjoyable experience.

There are many up and coming restaurants in the Dunedin area. 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.

There are plenty of up and coming restaurants around Tauranga. You'll find a great mix of restaurants in the town's downtown area. There are international flavors as well as seafood and other local favorites.

Is Dunedin or Tauranga Better for Nightlife?

Dunedin
Tauranga

Dunedin is a well-known place for its evening party scene. Also, Tauranga is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for nightlife.

Dunedin offers plenty to do in the evening. 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.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Tauranga. The city is known for its laid back bar scene. There are venues with casual live music as well as pubs where locals and tourists intermingle.

Is Dunedin or Tauranga Better for Beaches?

Dunedin
Tauranga

Tauranga is well known for the beach. Also, Dunedin is still popular, but not quite as popular for its beaches.

Tauranga is considered a top beach destination. Families and travelers head here for the sandy beaches and water activities. Surfing, kayaking, and fishing are all popular in the area. Some of the most popular beaches include Mount Maunganui Beach, Waihī Beach, and Anzac Bay.

Many people head to Dunedin to enjoy the beach. 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.


Is Dunedin or Tauranga Better for Hiking?

Dunedin
Tauranga

Tauranga 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 Tauranga. The Bay of Plenty is filled with hiking trails that run along the coast or head inland through the mountains. There are forest and bush walks that range in length and skill level and there really is something for everyone.

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 Tauranga?

Dunedin
Tauranga

Dunedin is a well-known place for its shopping areas. Also, Tauranga is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for shopping.

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.

Plenty of visitors enjoy shopping while in Tauranga. You'll find all of the standard shopping malls, retail outlets, and clothing boutiques around town.

Is Dunedin or Tauranga Better for Families?

Dunedin
Tauranga

Tauranga 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, Tauranga is a very family-friendly destination. Check out the ropes courses at Adrenalin Forest or play in the water at Waimarino Adventure Park. There are also many different walking areas like McLaren Falls Park and Kaiate Falls. Kids will love hanging out at the beach around Mount Maunganui or Papamoa Beach. This is an affordable and kid-family destination for locals and international tourists alike.

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 Tauranga Better for Couples?

Dunedin
Tauranga

Tauranga is well known for couples. Also, Dunedin is still popular, but not quite as popular for romance.

Couples visit Tauranga frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. It's a romantic destination with great beaches and beautiful waterfalls. You can enjoy a picnic in the park or dine at one of the local restaurants. Kayaking is also a popular activity in the area.

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 Tauranga Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Dunedin
Tauranga

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

Tauranga is a very popular town to visit for backpackers. This is one of the more affordable destinations in New Zealand. There are also a number of backpacker-friendly jobs that make it a great place to base yourself.

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 Tauranga Better for Students?

Dunedin
Tauranga

Dunedin is a well-known place for students. However, Tauranga is not popular with 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.

Tauranga is not popular with students.


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

Dunedin
Tauranga

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

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 Tauranga offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. There are buses, trains, and ferries in the area.

Is Dunedin or Tauranga a more walkable city?

Dunedin
Tauranga

Dunedin is a well-known place for its ease of walking around. Also, Tauranga is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its walkability.

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

Tauranga is somewhat walkable. There are many walking and cycling paths in the area, but you really need a car to explore the area in depth.

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

Should I spend more time in Tauranga or Dunedin?

How long in Dunedin or Tauranga?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Dunedin and Tauranga. 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 Tauranga.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Tauranga 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 Tauranga.


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

One day in Dunedin or Tauranga?

The city of Dunedin offers food and shopping. With all of its activities, you can easily fill one day here. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

In Tauranga, you'll find nightlife and food. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. 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 Tauranga?

Dunedin is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have a weekend, this city makes for a great vacation. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Dunedin, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

In Tauranga, 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 Tauranga has to offer.

Five days in Dunedin or Tauranga?

Dunedin is a popular choice for travelers. 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. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Tauranga is a great place to explore. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the 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 Tauranga?

Dunedin is a great place to explore. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. This city offers something for everyone.

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


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, Tauranga or Dunedin?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Dunedin is $105, while the average daily cost in Tauranga is $106. 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 Tauranga in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Dunedin $53
    Tauranga $76
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Dunedin $106
    Tauranga $152
Compare Hotels in Dunedin and Tauranga

Looking for a hotel in Dunedin or Tauranga? 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 Tauranga


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 Tauranga Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Dunedin $28
    Tauranga $6.98

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 Dunedin Airport (DUD) to Chalmers Port: $44
  • 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 Tauranga

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Tauranga:

  • Roundtrip Transfer from Port of Tauranga Omanu Golf Club: $75

Is it cheaper to fly into Dunedin or Tauranga?

Prices for flights to both Tauranga 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
    Tauranga $22

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Dunedin $18
    Tauranga $11

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: $16
  • Quickie Tours 1 Hour City Sights Tour CRUISE PASSENGERS ONLY: $25
  • Skip the Line: Larnach Castle & Gardens Admission Ticket: $28
  • Garden and City tour: $38
  • Monarch Wildlife Cruise: $39
  • Heritage Dunedin City Walking Guided Tour: $41
  • Shore Excursion: V8 Trike, Peninsula and City Tour: $50
  • Larnach Castle & Gardens Tour from Dunedin winter : $51
  • Larnach Castle & Gardens Tour from Dunedin: $51
  • Nature and City Tour: $57

Tours and Activities in Tauranga

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

  • Tauranga Self-Guided Audio Tour: $14
  • Mount Maunganui Harbour Sightseeing Cruise: $24
  • Tauranga Harbour Scenic One Hour Historical Boat Cruise : $25
  • Waimarino Adventure Park Supreme Pass Entry Ticket: $30
  • Waimarino Adventure Park: $31
  • 2hr Tauranga City Scenic History Tour: $34
  • 2-Hour Tauranga & Mount Maunganui City & Scenic Local Tour: $49
  • 4hr Shore Excursion - History and Tasting Tour FREE Kiwifruit Tasting: $59
  • 4hr Tauranga Scenic History and Tasting Tour FREE Kiwifruit Tasting: $59
  • Tauranga Shore Excursion: Small-Group Bay of Plenty and Tauranga Tour: $61
  • Tauranga Shore Excursion: Omanawa Falls & Great Sights Tour: $74
  • Evening Big Kanu Glowworm Tour: $86

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Dunedin $14
    Tauranga $11

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


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


Which is Bigger, Dunedin or Tauranga?

Dunedin has a larger population, and is about 4% larger than the population of Tauranga. When comparing the sizes of Dunedin and Tauranga, 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.