A Travel Price Comparison for New Zealand Kaikoura vs. Queenstown for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Kaikoura or Queenstown?

Should I visit Kaikoura or Queenstown? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Kaikoura

Kaikoura is a town on the east coast of the South Island, situated between Christchurch and Belnheim. It has a permanent resident population of 1,971. The Seaward Kaikoura Mountains that surround this town collide with the Pacific Ocean, and the continental shelf edge is just offshore. The ocean in Kaikoura is very rich in marine life, especially seals and whales.

Queenstown

Queenstown is a popular tourist destination on New Zealand's South Island. It is beautifully surrounded by the Southern Alps and sits on the banks of Lake Wakatipu. Across the lake you will find a stunning view of the Remarkables, a dramatic mountain range. The town itself is quite touristy, but prices still remain reasonable. There are options for all travel budgets, whether you're a backpacker hoping to save a few dollars or a family looking for some luxury accommodation. Despite its natural and tranquil setting, Queenstown is actually very much a party town, particularly during the peak seasons. Don't be surprised to find people out enjoying themselves until the early hours of the morning. If you're not into the party scene and are hoping to get a decent night's sleep, consider staying a little outside of town. About an hour outside of Queenstown you'll find Wanaka, which is a much smaller and peaceful town without the party scene.

Which city is cheaper, Queenstown or Kaikoura?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Kaikoura is $118, while the average daily cost in Queenstown is $91. 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 city. Below is a breakdown of travel costs for Kaikoura and Queenstown in more detail.



Accommodation

If you're traveling alone, you may be able to find a budget hotel or hostel for around $42. But for two people in a standard two-person hotel room in Kaikoura the cost is $84 on average.

Accommodation prices vary by location and style, but travelers pay on average about $96 for a double occupancy room in Queenstown.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Kaikoura $42
    Queenstown $48
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Kaikoura $84
    Queenstown $96

Local Transportation

The average price of local transportation around Kaikoura is $15 per person, per day. As this average includes both taxis and public transport, keep in mind that the prices of private drivers and taxis are significantly more expensive than public transportation.

The cost of a taxi ride in Queenstown is significantly more than public transportation. On average, past travelers have spent $8.87 per person, per day, on local transportation in Queenstown.


  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Kaikoura $15
    Queenstown $8.87

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Queenstown

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Queenstown:

  • Arrival Transfer: Queenstown Airport to Central Queenstown City Centre: $13
  • Departure Transfer: Queenstown Central City Centre Hotels to Queenstown Airport: $13
  • Ski Transfer To Coronet Peak (Round Trip): $27
  • Ski Transfer To Remarkables Ski Area (Round Trip): $27
  • Private Ski Transfer to Coronet Peak Ski Field: $333
  • Private Arrival Transfer: Queenstown Airport to Hotel by Jet Boat: $342
  • Private Ski Transfer to The Remarkables Ski Field: $370
  • Private & Exclusive One-Way Transfer Queenstown to Christchurch: $1,264

Is it cheaper to fly into Kaikoura or Queenstown?

Prices for flights to both Queenstown 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

The average traveler spends about $33 per day in Kaikoura for food, but obviously this is dependent on the type of restaurant and the amount of food ordered. To save money you can grab a lighter lunch or dinner, or you can try fast food or street food.

The average traveler spends about $31 per day in Queenstown for food, but obviously this is dependent on the type of restaurant and the amount of food ordered. To save money you can grab a lighter lunch or dinner, or you can try fast food or street food.


  • Food Meals for one day
    Kaikoura $33
    Queenstown $31

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Queenstown

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Queenstown.

  • Dinner at Walter Peak High Country Farm and Cruise from Queenstown: $110
  • Queenstown Progressive Dinner & Wine Tour - 3 iconic locations: $207

Entertainment

Kaikoura's costs for entertainment, tickets, attractions, and tours will often cost around $132 per person, per day. This cost can vary widely by the type of activity, however, as this includes admission tickets, day tours, museums, and other things to do.

Entertainment and activities in Queenstown typically cost an average of $19 per person, per day. This includes fees paid for admission tickets to museums and attractions, day tours, and other sightseeing expenses.


  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Kaikoura $132
    Queenstown $19

Tours and Activities in Kaikoura

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

  • Kayaking Adventure in Kaikoura: $70
  • Half-Day Wildlife Kayaking Tour: $85
  • Sunset Kayaking Tour: $89
  • Guided Family Kayaking Adventure: $89
  • Wildlife Sea Kayaking Tour - Kaikoura: $89
  • Seal Swimming Tour from Kaikoura: $89
  • Private Wildlife Kayaking Tour - Kaikoura: $178
  • 30-Minute Whale Watching Helicopter Tour: $269

Typical Entertainment prices in Queenstown

Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Queenstown are as follows:


  • Skyline Gondola (for 2)
    $33

Tours and Activities in Queenstown

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

  • Time Tripper Underwater Experience: $6.58
  • Full & Half Day Hardtail Cruiser Bike Hire (Giant Talon 3 - 2020 model): $11
  • Escape Adventure AR Experience in Queenstown: $19
  • Skip the Line: Odyssey Sensory Maze Entry Queenstown Ticket: $24
  • Lake Wakatipu Scenic Catamaran Cruise from Queenstown: $29
  • Glenorchy Kiwi Special Tour: $29
  • Million Dollar Cruise in Queenstown: $36
  • Gibbston Valley Cave Guided Tour from Queenstown: $37
  • Queenstown Hop-on Hop-off Evening Beer Tour: $40
  • Queenstown VIP Wine Drop and Hop Tour: $40
  • TSS Earnslaw Steamship Cruise from Queenstown: $52
  • Self Guided Bike Experience - Frankton/Kelvin Heights/Jack’s Point to Queenstown: $61

Alcohol

The average person spends about $7.75 on alcoholic beverages in Queenstown per day. The more you spend on alcohol, the more fun you might be having despite your higher budget.


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Kaikoura -
    Queenstown $7.75

Sample the Local Flavors in Queenstown

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Queenstown:

  • Hop on Hop off Wine Tours Queenstown: $40
  • Hop-On Hop-Off Wine Tour: $52
  • Wine Tour from Full Day: $103
  • Queenstown Classic Wine Tour - 3 Vineyards, Cave Tour and Cheeseboard: $116
  • Afternoon Boutique Wine Tour: $122
  • Original Wine Tour: $125
  • Vine Hopper: Queenstown's Ultimate Wine & Microbrewery Adventure: $133
  • Valley of the Vines Afternoon Wine Tour includes a Winery Tour: $133
  • Central Otago Wine Tour from Queenstown - Includes 4 Vineyards, Lunch & Wine: $136
  • Valley of the Vines Lunch & Wine Tour with a Wine Cave Adult Tour: $147
  • Wine Tour & Maori Culture Queenstown: $159
  • Boutique Wine Tour in Central Otago Wine Region: $161


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

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Kaikoura vs. Queenstown Travel Comparison

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