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

Should you visit Gold Coast or Paihia?

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

Should I visit Gold Coast or Paihia? 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 vibrant, colorful, and high energy coastline. It's a large city, so you'll find plenty of things to do around town. Visitors also love the beaches, hiking, and shopping.

Paihia

Paihia is a fun-filled, beautiful, and relaxing coastal town. It's also popular because of the food, scuba diving and snorkeling, and beaches.

Gold Coast and Paihia: 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
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for nightlife


Is there more to do in Gold Coast or Paihia?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Gold Coast. Although Gold Coast and Paihia are both popular with visitors, Gold Coast has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Gold Coast is popular for its colorful theme parks, thrilling water sports, and nearby rainforests. It is also home to the long sandy beaches. Paihia is popular for its warm year round climate, impressive beaches, and world class snorkeling and scuba diving.

How is Gold Coast different from Paihia?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Gold Coast
Paihia

Gold Coast is a very popular place for its museums and history. Also, Paihia is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its museums and landmarks.

Visitors can fill many days exploring the museums and attractions around Gold Coast. 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.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Paihia. There are some interesting cultural sights in the area like the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and the Museum of Waitangi.


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

Gold Coast
Paihia

Foodies will find both Gold Coast and Paihia both to be superb 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, Paihia makes for a great culinary experience. Local seafood, regional produce, and fresh ingredients make dining in the area a rewarding experience. You'll find fine dining restaurants, pizzerias, and local cafes to choose from.

Is Gold Coast or Paihia Better for Nightlife?

Gold Coast
Paihia

Gold Coast is a must-visit destination for nightlife and partying. Also, Paihia is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its evening party scene.

Gold Coast is a world class party destination. 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.

Paihia has an active nightlife scene for those who seek it out. As a holiday spot, there are a number of clubs and bars that cater to tourists in the area.

Is Gold Coast or Paihia Better for Resorts?

Gold Coast
Paihia

Gold Coast is a must-visit destination for its luxury resorts. However, Paihia is not a resort destination.

Vacationers flock to Gold Coast for its luxury resorts. 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.

Paihia is not a resort destination.


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

Gold Coast
Paihia

There's superb scuba diving or snorkeling available in both Gold Coast and Paihia.

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.

There is a nice variety of marine life that makes scuba diving and snorkeling great in Paihia. There are scuba diving and snorkel shops available around town where you can organize trips and excursions to experience the undersea world.

Is Gold Coast or Paihia Better for Beaches?

Gold Coast
Paihia

For a relaxing beach holiday, both Gold Coast and Paihia are amazing choices.

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.

With world-famous beaches, Paihia is a very popular vacation destination. There are stunning beaches both in Paihia and throughout the Bay of Islands. Paihia Beach is in town. It's small but nice and makes a great picnic spot. For a more secluded spot head to Matauri Bay Beach or Takou Bay.

Is Gold Coast or Paihia Better for Hiking?

Gold Coast
Paihia

If you're looking to go hiking, Gold Coast and Paihia both have superb 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.

Paihia is a popular spot for hiking. The Bay of Islands is filled with coastal walks and peaceful hikes. This is a great way to soak up the area's atmosphere and take in some spectacular views.


Is the Shopping Better in Gold Coast or Paihia?

Gold Coast
Paihia

Gold Coast is a very popular place for its shopping opportunities. Also, Paihia is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its shopping areas.

Gold Coast is well-known for its shopping. There are large outlet malls, outdoor markets, and designer shopping centers. You'll find trendy fashion designers as well as the typical souvenir shops.

Many visitors go to Paihia to go shopping. There are plenty of retail stores around town where you can pick up clothes or enjoy some souvenir shopping.

Is Gold Coast or Paihia Better for Families?

Gold Coast
Paihia

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

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.

Paihia is one of the most popular family destinations. Beaches, dolphin spotting, ice cream, and chocolate factories make the Bay of Islands the perfect place for a family vacation. There are amazing walking trails like the Manginangina Kauri Walk and opportunities to learn about the Maori culture. There are also adventure spots and great beaches.

Is Gold Coast or Paihia Better for Couples?

Gold Coast
Paihia

With fun activities for couples, both Gold Coast and Paihia make for a amazing place to visit.

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.

For those traveling as a couple, Paihia has plenty to offer. You can enjoy sunset boat cruises, sip wine with a waterfront view, or walk through pristine natural areas. For thrill seekers there are adrenaline filled activities like parasailing or scuba diving.


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

Gold Coast
Paihia

Gold Coast is a must-visit destination for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Paihia is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for backpackers.

With so many budget-friendly offerings, Gold Coast is extremely popular for backpackers. 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.

Paihia is a very popular coastline for backpackers and budget travelers. There are a handful of hostels around town as well as many great activities for backpackers like scuba diving or parasailing.

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

Gold Coast
Paihia

Gold Coast is a very popular place for times when you don't have a car. Also, Paihia is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its public transit.

Gold Coast has some very good public transit options. There's a bus, train, and tram network that's operated by TransLink and runs along the coast.

You'll find some public transit in Paihia, but it may not be enough to take you everywhere. There are ferries and some intercity buses through the Bay of Islands.

Is Gold Coast or Paihia a more walkable city?

Gold Coast
Paihia

Gold Coast and Paihia 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.

Paihia is somewhat walkable. It's possible to explore parts of the town on foot.


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

Should I spend more time in Paihia or Gold Coast?

How long in Gold Coast or Paihia?

In either Gold Coast or Paihia, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in Gold Coast than Paihia because of the overall number of sights and activities. Usually, 3-7 days is a good amount of time for Gold Coast, and 3-5 days is enough time in Paihia.

Families should spend more time in Gold Coast than Paihia. 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 Paihia. 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 Paihia 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 Paihia? Ideal Length of Stay
    Gold Coast 3-7 
    Paihia 3-5

One day in Gold Coast or Paihia?

Many travelers enjoy the scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping when visiting the destination of Gold Coast. Hikers are also drawn to this area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

With food and scuba diving and snorkeling around the fun-filled coastal town of Paihia, there's plenty to do. Anyone can find something fun to do here. One of the main draws to the area is the beaches. 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 Paihia?

Gold Coast is a great place to explore. With so much to do, a weekend is probably not enough time to see everything. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

With scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping around the destination of Paihia, there's plenty to do. It's also a great beach destination, too. It offers something for everyone. One of the main draws to the area is the beaches. With so much to do, a weekend is probably not enough time to see everything.

Five days in Gold Coast or Paihia?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Gold Coast. For many, it makes a great getaway for five days. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. With all of its activities, you can easily fill five days here. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Paihia, a popular coastal town, is full of activities for travelers. This is a popular place to visit for five days. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. In five days, you should have a good grasp of this coastal town. Your budget might influence how long you stay.


A week in Gold Coast or Paihia?

Many travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the glamourous destination of Gold Coast. This coastline offers a variety of activities to choose from. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. If you have one week, this is a great place to go. This would be the perfect place to spend one week, as it has just the right amount of activities.

Paihia is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. One of the main draws to the area is the beaches. 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, Tours for Outdoor and Nature Lovers in New Zealand, and The Best Adventure Tours to New Zealand.


Which place is cheaper, Paihia 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 Paihia is $82. 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 Paihia in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Gold Coast $56
    Paihia $34
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Gold Coast $112
    Paihia $68
Compare Hotels in Gold Coast and Paihia

Looking for a hotel in Gold Coast or Paihia? 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 Paihia


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: Paihia Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Gold Coast $23
    Paihia $12

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Gold Coast

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

  • Movie World To Brisbane Hotel One Way Transfer: $27
  • Theme Park Transfer: $563
  • Tangalooma Snorkel the Wrecks Cruise Transfers: $156
  • Tangalooma Marine Discovery Day Cruise Transfers: $149
  • Tangalooma Desert Safari Day Cruise Transfers: $149
  • Tangalooma Beach Day Cruise with Bus Transfers: $116
  • Chill Out at Byron Bay Bus Transfer: $59
  • Australia Zoo Ticket and Roundtrip Transfer: $102
  • Airport to Hotel Return Transfer: $21
  • Gold Coast Airport: One-Way Private Transfer to Gold Coast: $39
  • Gold Coast Airport Transfer: Gold Coast to Airport OOL in Luxury Van: $127
  • Gold Coast Airport Transfer: Gold Coast to Airport OOL in Luxury Car: $128

Is it cheaper to fly into Gold Coast or Paihia?

Prices for flights to both Paihia 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
    Paihia $28

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: $73
  • Gold Coast Buffet Dinner Sightseeing Cruise: $81

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Paihia

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

  • Private Modern Vegetarian Cooking Class with Anna in Northland: $195

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Gold Coast $19
    Paihia $35

Tours and Activities in Gold Coast

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

  • Whale Watching Australia Experience (3hours): $81
  • 1.5 hr Jet Ski Safari tour to South Stradbroke Island!: $189
  • 2 Hours Dolphin Kayaking & Snorkeling Tour on the Broadwater: $51
  • 2.5 hr Jet Ski Safaris tour - Ultimate Adventure + island stop: $270
  • 2.5hr Gold Coast Kayaking & snorkelling tour: $53
  • 3-Day Ticket: Dreamworld with WhiteWaterWorld & SkyPoint: $99
  • 30min Jet Ski Tour in Surfers Paradise: $81
  • Aquaduck Gold Coast 1 hour City and River Tour: $37
  • Australia's First Upside Down House Photo Experience: $10
  • Brisbane: Winery Tour with Tastings and 2-Course Lunch: $152
  • Broadwater Morning Cruise: $39
  • Broadwater Morning Cruise with Spirit of Gold Coast: $40

Tours and Activities in Paihia

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

  • Adrenalin Junkie Tour - 60 mins (min 2): $112
  • *Popular Cruise Ship Tour* Bay of Islands and Glow Worm Caves Shore Excursion: $131
  • 3 Hours // Hole in the Rock Cruise & Bay of Islands Tour: $78
  • 3 Hours // Hole in the Rock Cruise & Island Stopover: $78
  • Bay Combo Tour - 60 mins (min 2): $112
  • Bay of Islands 2-Hour Sundowner Evening Sailing Cruise: $49
  • Bay of Islands Cruise & Island Tour - Snorkel, Hike,Swim,Wildlife: $93
  • Bay of Islands Discover the Bay cruise including Dolphins: $94
  • Bay of Islands Half-Day Private Tour: $264
  • Bay of Islands Waterfall Explorer Kayaking Tour: $61
  • Bay of Islands and Hole in the Rock Scenic Helicopter Tour: $179
  • Bay of Islands: 4.5 Hour Day Cruise and Island Getaway Tour: $77

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Gold Coast $5.31
    Paihia $23

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: $126
  • Full-Day Guided Wine Tour in Mt Tamborine From Gold Coast : $135
  • Private Bespoke Hinterland Heritage Wine Tour: $162

Sample the Local Flavors in Paihia

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

  • Bay of Islands Wine Tour with Lunch: $109


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

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 Paihia Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Gold Coast or Paihia?

Gold Coast has a larger population, and is about 270 times larger than the population of Paihia. When comparing the sizes of Gold Coast and Paihia, 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.