A Travel Price Comparison for New Zealand Kaikoura vs. Arrowtown for Hiking, Families, Food, and Couples

Should you visit Kaikoura or Arrowtown?

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

Should I visit Kaikoura or Arrowtown? 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.

Kaikoura

Kaikoura is a biologically diverse, unique, and nature-oriented town. Other reasons to visit include hiking, shopping, and nightlife.

Arrowtown

Arrowtown is a historic, charming, and quaint town. It also offers plenty of small town charm and also has plenty of sights and activities. This destination also has one of those special and quaint feelings. And you can't forget about the shopping, museums, and skiing.

Kaikoura and Arrowtown: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • 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
  • Public transit not as usable
Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Scenic old town
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good public transit
  • Small town charm


Is there more to do in Kaikoura or Arrowtown?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Arrowtown. Although Kaikoura and Arrowtown are popular destinations, Arrowtown has more sights and attractions for tourists. Arrowtown is very popular for its skiing, museums, historical sights, hiking, shopping, small town charm, and quaint atmosphere, while Kaikoura attracts visitors for its beaches. Kaikoura is famous for its local Sperm Whale population, abundance of marine life, and local crayfish (lobster) recipes. Arrowtown is famous for its gold rush history, impressive ski slopes, and famous hikes. It is also well known for the Chinese Settlement.

How is Kaikoura different from Arrowtown?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Kaikoura or Arrowtown Better for Skiing?

Kaikoura
Arrowtown

Arrowtown is a well-known place for snow skiing. However, Kaikoura is not a skiing destination.

People head to Arrowtown specifically to take advantage of the area's skiing and winter sports. In the area you'll find amazing skiing that ranges from professional level to family-friendly.

Kaikoura is not a skiing destination.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Kaikoura or Arrowtown?

Kaikoura
Arrowtown

Arrowtown is a popular place for its sights and museums. However, Kaikoura is not a good town for its museums and history.

Arrowtown offers a variety of museums and landmarks to choose from. The town feels likes a living museum with its historic sights. There's also the Lakes District Museum in town that you can visit.

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 Kaikoura or Arrowtown? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Kaikoura
Arrowtown

Foodies will find both Kaikoura and Arrowtown both to be great destinations.

Eating is part of the travel experience when you visit Kaikoura. 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.

Arrowtown has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. For such a small town, there's a surprising number of great restaurants with award winning chefs. You'll find quaint cafes, traditional eateries, and casual restaurants where you can sample the local dishes.

Is Kaikoura or Arrowtown Better for Nightlife?

Kaikoura
Arrowtown

Both Kaikoura and Arrowtown are nice when it comes to partying.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in Kaikoura. This is a small town so the nightlife scene is limited, but there are a few restaurants with bars around town.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Arrowtown. For such a small town, there's a surprisingly bustling nightlife scene with casual pubs and waterfront bars.


Is Kaikoura or Arrowtown Better for Beaches?

Kaikoura
Arrowtown

Kaikoura is an excellent place to visit for its beaches. However, Arrowtown is not a beach destination.

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.

Arrowtown is not a beach destination.

Is Kaikoura or Arrowtown Better for its Old Town?

Kaikoura
Arrowtown

Arrowtown is a well-known place for its old town. However, Kaikoura does not have a historic old town.

Many visitors explore the old town while visiting Arrowtown. This is a quirky and charming historic mining town that has many cottages and historic buildings. Many places have been restored to maintain their original character.

Kaikoura does not have a historic old town.

Is Kaikoura or Arrowtown Better for Hiking?

Kaikoura
Arrowtown

Arrowtown is a world-class destination for the nearby hiking options. Also, Kaikoura is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its hiking trails.

People visit Arrowtown specifically for its hiking, as the natural beauty is well-known. Many people use this town as a jumping off point for some of the world's most iconic hikes. You can explore Lord of the Rings country or do one of fifteen different listed walks in the area.

Many visitors explore the nearby hiking trails while visiting Kaikoura. 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 Kaikoura or Arrowtown?

Kaikoura
Arrowtown

Arrowtown 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.

Arrowtown is a popular shopping destination with plenty of stores. Shopping is an experience in town. Head to Buckingham Street, which is the main street in town. You can wander through a wild west setting with local vendors and quirky galleries.

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 Kaikoura or Arrowtown Better for Families?

Kaikoura
Arrowtown

Kaikoura is terrific for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Arrowtown is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its family-friendly activities.

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.

Arrowtown is a very kid-friendly town. Kids will enjoy the old world charm as much as adults. There's gold panning, bike trails, and even a historic Chinese village. During the winter there are snow sports and during the summer there are outdoor activities that take advantage of the nice weather.

Is Kaikoura or Arrowtown Better for Couples?

Kaikoura
Arrowtown

With fun activities for couples, both Kaikoura and Arrowtown make for a great place to visit.

Kaikoura is a very popular place to visit for couples. 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.

Arrowtown makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. The charming atmosphere and beautiful walks make this a great weekend destination for couples. You can take a stroll on the Arrow River Walkway or grab a meal at a quaint cafe followed by ice cream at a classic ice cream parlor.


Is Kaikoura or Arrowtown Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Kaikoura
Arrowtown

Both Kaikoura and Arrowtown are great destinations for backpackers.

Kaikoura is a great town to visit for backpackers. There are a decent number of hostels in the area and plenty of fun activities that backpackers will enjoy.

Plenty of budget travelers and backpackers visit Arrowtown. There are a couple of hostels in town and backpackers love the frequent festivals and activities that the town hosts.

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

Kaikoura
Arrowtown

Arrowtown is a popular place for its public transit. However, Kaikoura is not a good town for times when you don't have a car.

Arrowtown has a few public transit options. There are public buses throughout the region.

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

Is Kaikoura or Arrowtown a more walkable city?

Kaikoura
Arrowtown

Kaikoura and Arrowtown both are nice when exploring on foot.

Kaikoura is a somewhat walkable place. 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.

Arrowtown is a somewhat walkable town. Parts of the town are fun to explore on foot.


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

Should I spend more time in Arrowtown or Kaikoura?

How long in Kaikoura or Arrowtown?

You'll be able to find lots of things to do in Kaikoura or Arrowtown to fill your time. Many travelers usually spend more of their time in Kaikoura than Arrowtown because of the number of activities and things to do in the area. Usually, 2-4 days is a good amount of time for Kaikoura, and 1-2 days is enough time in Arrowtown.

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

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

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


  • How many days in Kaikoura or Arrowtown? Ideal Length of Stay
    Kaikoura 2-4 
    Arrowtown 1-2

One day in Kaikoura or Arrowtown?

You'll find food and shopping around the town of Kaikoura. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Arrowtown is a small town where visitors enjoy the museums and skiing. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. With all of its activities, you can easily fill one day here. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

A weekend in Kaikoura or Arrowtown?

You'll find shopping and nightlife around the nature-oriented destination of Kaikoura. Hikers are also drawn to this area. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend.A weekend should give you a good understanding of everything this town has to offer. This town offers a variety of activities to choose from.

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

Five days in Kaikoura or Arrowtown?

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the nature-oriented town of Kaikoura. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. It's also a great beach destination, too. Five days is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

Arrowtown is a popular choice for travelers. It's no surprise that hiking is why people visit. 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.


A week in Kaikoura or Arrowtown?

Kaikoura is a popular choice for travelers. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. One week 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. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

Arrowtown is a great place to explore. It's no surprise that hiking is why people visit. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. This town offers something for everyone.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best One Week (7-Day) Tours in New Zealand, The Best 2-Week Tours in New Zealand, The Best Bicycle Tours in New Zealand, and Tours for Outdoor and Nature Lovers in New Zealand.


Which place is cheaper, Arrowtown or Kaikoura?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Kaikoura is $140, while the average daily cost in Arrowtown is $119. 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 Kaikoura and Arrowtown in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Kaikoura $50
    Arrowtown $69
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Kaikoura $100
    Arrowtown $138
Compare Hotels in Kaikoura and Arrowtown

Looking for a hotel in Kaikoura or Arrowtown? 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 Kaikoura


Hotels in Arrowtown


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 and Arrowtown Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Kaikoura $18
    Arrowtown $28

Is it cheaper to fly into Kaikoura or Arrowtown?

Prices for flights to both Arrowtown and Kaikoura 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
    Kaikoura $39
    Arrowtown $31

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Kaikoura $158
    Arrowtown $15

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: $248
  • Kaikoura Whale Watch Day Tour from Christchurch: $220
  • 1-Hour Whale Watching Helicopter Tour: $642
  • Guided Family Kayaking Adventure: $92
  • Half-Day Wildlife Kayaking Tour: $92
  • Seal-Watching Pedal Kayak Tour: $62
  • Whale Watching Cruise: $101
  • Wildlife Kayaking Tour at Sunset: $92

Tours and Activities in Arrowtown

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

  • Queenstown: Arrowtown Mountain Biking Adventure: $58

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Kaikoura -
    Arrowtown $14

Sample the Local Flavors in Arrowtown

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Arrowtown:

  • From Scenic Valley of the Vines Bike & Wine Tour: $92


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Kaikoura and Arrowtown, we can see that Kaikoura is more expensive. And not only is Arrowtown much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Arrowtown would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Arrowtown 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 Arrowtown.

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


Which is Bigger, Kaikoura or Arrowtown?

Arrowtown has a larger population, and is about 3 times larger than the population of Kaikoura. When comparing the sizes of Kaikoura and Arrowtown, 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.