A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers Gold Coast vs. Kaikoura for Nightlife, Beaches, Families, and Couples

Should you visit Gold Coast or Kaikoura?

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

Should I visit Gold Coast or Kaikoura? 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.

Gold Coast

Gold Coast is a colorful, high energy, and fun-filled coastline. It's a large city, so you'll find plenty of things to do around town. And you can't forget about the food, scuba diving and snorkeling, and beaches.

Kaikoura

Kaikoura is a nature-oriented, biologically diverse, and unique town. It's also popular because of the beaches, hiking, and shopping.

Gold Coast and Kaikoura: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good public transit
Pros
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Public transit not as usable


Is there more to do in Gold Coast or Kaikoura?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Gold Coast. Although Gold Coast and Kaikoura are both popular with visitors, Gold Coast has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Gold Coast is more touristy than Kaikoura and is popular for its colorful theme parks, thrilling water sports, and nearby rainforests. It is also home to the long sandy beaches. Kaikoura is popular for its local Sperm Whale population, abundance of marine life, and local crayfish (lobster) recipes.

How is Gold Coast different from Kaikoura?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Gold Coast or Kaikoura?

Gold Coast
Kaikoura

Gold Coast is a well-known place for its sights and museums. However, Kaikoura is not a good town for its museums and history.

Gold Coast offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. The views from the observation deck at the Q1 Resort and Spa are a not-to-be-missed experience. You'll also find many amusement parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the area.

While most people don't head to Kaikoura specifically for the museums and attractions, it does offer a few options. There aren't many museums in the area, but it's worth learning more about the region's history with a visit to Kaikoura Museum.


Is the Food Better in Gold Coast or Kaikoura? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Gold Coast
Kaikoura

Foodies will find both Gold Coast and Kaikoura both to be high quality destinations.

Gold Coast has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. The coastline is filled with modern Australian restaurants that serve locally caught seafood and modern twists on traditional dishes. There are wine bars, fine dining restaurants, and more casual options. You'll also find plenty of international eateries as well.

With its innovative style combined with traditional elements, Kaikoura makes for a great culinary experience. Seafood lovers will be in heaven in this town! There are many local, freshly caught favorites such as cod, mussels, and crayfish (which is actually lobster). You'll find plenty of casual eateries, including an authentic American diner.

Is Gold Coast or Kaikoura Better for Nightlife?

Gold Coast
Kaikoura

Gold Coast is a world-class destination for nightlife and partying. Also, Kaikoura is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its evening party scene.

People head to Gold Coast just to party. The nightlife scene is filled with ritz and glam, but you'll also find wild beach parties and lively nightclubs. There are backpackers and students that keep the parties going until the morning hours.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Kaikoura. This is a small town so the nightlife scene is limited, but there are a few restaurants with bars around town.

Is Gold Coast or Kaikoura Better for Resorts?

Gold Coast
Kaikoura

Gold Coast is a world-class destination for its resorts. However, Kaikoura is not a resort destination.

For the ultimate resort vacation, Gold Coast is a great choice. Resorts range from family-friendly to backpacker-focused with everything in between. There are many high rise resorts that have luxury pools and beachfront views.

Kaikoura is not a resort destination.


Is Gold Coast or Kaikoura Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Gold Coast
Kaikoura

Gold Coast is a well-known place for its diving and snorkeling. However, Kaikoura is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Many visitors partake in scuba diving or snorkeing while visiting Gold Coast. There are many dive shops and snorkeling excursions. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced diver, there are excursions that will not disappoint. There are also many places that offer certification courses.

Kaikoura is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is Gold Coast or Kaikoura Better for Beaches?

Gold Coast
Kaikoura

Gold Coast is a world-class destination for the beache. Also, Kaikoura is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for the beach.

Travelers come from around the world to visit the beaches in Gold Coast. This stretch of beachline is perfect for surfing, swimming, and sunbathing. There are miles of coastline that are sandy and beautiful and some of the most popular beaches include the Main Beach, Surfers Paradise, and Broadbeach.

Kaikoura is a very popular place to visit for its beaches. There are many black pebble beaches in the area, which are great for wildlife spotting, but not so good for swimming. Gooch's Beach is one of the most popular, and it's sandier than many of the other beaches. South Bay is another popular area to visit.

Is Gold Coast or Kaikoura Better for Hiking?

Gold Coast
Kaikoura

If you're looking to go hiking, Gold Coast and Kaikoura both have high quality trails.

Many visitors go to Gold Coast for the hiking trails. The Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk connects the area's diverse and lush rainforests through the Numinbah Valley. It's a World Heritage Area with subtropical rainforest as well as warm temperate rainforest, and Antarctic beech cool temperate rainforest.

Kaikoura is a popular spot for hiking. There are many coastal walks in the area that will take you through a variety of landscapes. This is also a great way to see the many diverse types of wildlife throughout the peninsula.


Is the Shopping Better in Gold Coast or Kaikoura?

Gold Coast
Kaikoura

Gold Coast is a well-known place for its shopping opportunities. Also, Kaikoura is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its shopping areas.

Gold Coast is a popular shopping destination with plenty of stores. There are large outlet malls, outdoor markets, and designer shopping centers. You'll find trendy fashion designers as well as the typical souvenir shops.

Kaikoura has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. There are local shops where you can pick up some interesting products that are unique to the area.

Is Gold Coast or Kaikoura Better for Families?

Gold Coast
Kaikoura

Kids will enjoy a visit to either Gold Coast or Kaikoura.

As it has a large number of activities for kids, Gold Coast is a very family-friendly destination. It's filled with popular theme parks and other adrenaline-filled activities. There are surfing lessons, wildlife sanctuaries, ropes courses, and water sports. Kids of all ages will appreciate this fun-filled setting with its many family-friendly resorts and restaurants.

Kaikoura is one of the most popular family destinations. Kids who love animals will appreciate all of the wildlife in the area. This is one of the best places in the country to see dolphins, whales, and seals. There are world class whale watching trips as well as opportunities to swim with the dolphins and get close to the seals. There is also kayaking, a coastal train, and even sheep shearing. Minigolf is also a fun activity in the area.

Is Gold Coast or Kaikoura Better for Couples?

Gold Coast
Kaikoura

Gold Coast is a world-class destination for its romantic activities. Also, Kaikoura is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for couples.

Gold Coast makes for a terrific place to visit as a couple. Couples that energy high energy activities, water sports, theme parks, and parties that last into the morning, will love a stay at this vibrant coast. There's no shortage of great restaurants, entertaining shows, and fun activities that you can experience.

Kaikoura makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. The town is all about wildlife, so if whale watching trips, dolphin spotting, and experiencing amazing local wildlife is your thing, then this is your spot! There are also beautiful coastal sights with a dramatic mountain backdrop.


Is Gold Coast or Kaikoura Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Gold Coast
Kaikoura

Gold Coast is a world-class destination for backpackers. Also, Kaikoura is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for backpackers and budget travelers.

Backpackers and budget travelers come from all over the world to visit Gold Coast. Backpackers flock to this vibrant coastline. There are hostels and budget-friendly places to stay, and there's a huge nightlife scene. The many activities and long sandy beaches make this a well established stop on Australia's backpacker circuit.

Plenty of budget travelers and backpackers visit Kaikoura. There are a decent number of hostels in the area and plenty of fun activities that backpackers will enjoy.

Is Gold Coast or Kaikoura Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Gold Coast
Kaikoura

Gold Coast is a well-known place for its public transit. However, Kaikoura is not a good town for times when you don't have a car.

Public transit in Gold Coast can get you to some places easily. There's a bus, train, and tram network that's operated by TransLink and runs along the coast.

Public transit is quite limited in Kaikoura. The town is very small and there is no real public transit in the area.

Is Gold Coast or Kaikoura a more walkable city?

Gold Coast
Kaikoura

Gold Coast and Kaikoura are good when it comes to walkability.

Gold Coast is a somewhat walkable coastline. There are parts of the area that can be explored on foot.

Kaikoura is somewhat walkable. There are many coastal walks in the area, which is a great way to soak up the beauty and see the wildlife. The town itself is small and most of the accommodation is along Beach Road, so it's relatively easy to reach places on foot.


For even more information, also check out Is Gold Coast Worth Visiting? and Is Kaikoura Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Kaikoura or Gold Coast?

How long in Gold Coast or Kaikoura?

It's fun to spend time in either Gold Coast or Kaikoura. Generally, people tend to spend more time in Gold Coast due to the larger number of activities and things to do. Usually, 3-7 days is a good amount of time for Gold Coast, and 2-4 days is enough time in Kaikoura.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Gold Coast than Kaikoura 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 Gold Coast.


  • How many days in Gold Coast or Kaikoura? Ideal Length of Stay
    Gold Coast 3-7 
    Kaikoura 2-4

One day in Gold Coast or Kaikoura?

The coastline of Gold Coast offers museums and nightlife. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

With shopping and nightlife around the nature-oriented town of Kaikoura, there's plenty to do. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

A weekend in Gold Coast or Kaikoura?

Gold Coast is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than a weekend exploring. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

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

Five days in Gold Coast or Kaikoura?

Gold Coast is a popular choice for travelers. Five days here is typical. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Gold Coast, five days is sufficent for most. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Kaikoura, a popular town, is full of activities for travelers. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything. Your budget might influence how long you stay.


A week in Gold Coast or Kaikoura?

Gold Coast is a great place to explore. It is common to spend one week here. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. One week is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Gold Coast has to offer. This coastline offers something for everyone.

Kaikoura 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.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Luxury Tours to Australia, The Best Adventure Tours to Australia, The Best One Week (7-Day) Tours in New Zealand, and The Best 2-Week Tours in New Zealand.


Which place is cheaper, Kaikoura or Gold Coast?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Gold Coast is $100, while the average daily cost in Kaikoura is $134. 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 Gold Coast and Kaikoura in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Gold Coast $56
    Kaikoura $49
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Gold Coast $112
    Kaikoura $98
Compare Hotels in Gold Coast and Kaikoura

Looking for a hotel in Gold Coast or Kaikoura? 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 Gold Coast


Hotels in Kaikoura


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: Kaikoura Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Gold Coast $23
    Kaikoura $17

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Gold Coast

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

  • Airport to Hotel Return Transfer: $21
  • Gold Coast Airport Arrival Shared Transfer: $21
  • Gold Coast Airport Departure Transfer: $22
  • Movie World To Brisbane Hotel One Way Transfer: $27
  • Gold Coast Airport: One-Way Private Transfer to Gold Coast: $39
  • Gold Coast Airport Transfer: Airport OOL to Gold Coast in Business Car: $99
  • Arrival Private Transfer: Airport OOL to Gold Coast in Business Car: $99
  • Departure Private Transfer: Gold Coast to Airport OOL in Business Car: $99
  • Australia Zoo Ticket and Roundtrip Transfer: $103
  • Tangalooma Beach Day Cruise with Bus Transfers: $117
  • Gold Coast Airport Transfer: Airport OOL to Gold Coast in Luxury Van: $127
  • Gold Coast Airport Transfer: Gold Coast to Airport OOL in Luxury Van: $127

Is it cheaper to fly into Gold Coast or Kaikoura?

Prices for flights to both Kaikoura and Gold Coast 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
    Gold Coast $28
    Kaikoura $38

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Gold Coast

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

  • Australian Outback Spectacular Dinner & Show: $74
  • Gold Coast Buffet Dinner Sightseeing Cruise: $81

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Gold Coast $19
    Kaikoura $154

Tours and Activities in Gold Coast

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Gold Coast.

  • Australia's First Upside Down House Photo Experience: $10
  • Spring Brook National Park Self Guided Driving Tour: $15
  • Spring Brook National Park Self Guided Driving Tour: $15
  • SkyPoint Observation Deck Ticket: $24
  • Surfer's Paradise Sightseeing Cruise: $30
  • Surfers Paradise: IceBar Entry Ticket and Drink: $30
  • Surfers Paradise and Midday River Cruise: $33
  • Gold Coast Morning Tea Cruise from Surfers Paradise: $33
  • Surfers Paradise Sunset Cruise: $33
  • Aquaduck City Tour and River Cruise: $37
  • City Lights Cruise: $37
  • Gold Coast Sunset River Cruise: $37

Tours and Activities in Kaikoura

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

  • Llama Trek (Taster) - Kowhai River Valley and Native Woodland Tour: $84
  • 1-Hour Private Heli-Picnic Mountain top tour in Kaikoura : $245
  • 40-minute Mt Fyffe Summit Heli Tour in Kaikoura : $229
  • Half Day Zipline Adventure in Kaikoura: $100
  • Kaikoura Swim with Dolphins Tour from Christchurch: $247
  • Kaikoura Whale Watch Day Tour from Christchurch: $219
  • Private Wildlife Kayaking Tour - Kaikoura: $188
  • Seal Kayaking Adventure in Kaikoura: $84
  • Sunset Evening Kayaking Tour - Kaikoura: $94
  • Sunset Kayak tour in Kaikoura: $85
  • Wildlife Sea Kayaking Tour - Kaikoura: $94

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Gold Coast $5.28
    Kaikoura -

Sample the Local Flavors in Gold Coast

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

  • Sirromet Cellar Door Wine Tasting Public Tour with Lunch: $44
  • Northern Rivers Wine Tour: $115
  • Tamborine Mountain: Wine Tasting Tour with 2-Course Lunch: $127
  • Full-Day Guided Wine Tour in Mt Tamborine From Gold Coast : $135
  • Private Bespoke Hinterland Heritage Wine Tour: $162


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

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


Which is Bigger, Gold Coast or Kaikoura?

Gold Coast has a larger population, and is about 770 times larger than the population of Kaikoura. When comparing the sizes of Gold Coast and Kaikoura, 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.