A Travel Price Comparison for New Zealand Kaikoura vs. Tauranga for Families, Backpackers, Food, and Beaches

Should you visit Kaikoura or Tauranga?

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

Should I visit Kaikoura 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.

Kaikoura

Kaikoura is a nature-oriented, biologically diverse, and unique town. Other popular activities here include beaches, hiking, and shopping.

Tauranga

Tauranga is a laid back, relaxing, and nature-filled town. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. And you can't forget about the shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Kaikoura and Tauranga: 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 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 public transit
  • Impressive beauty


Is there more to do in Kaikoura or Tauranga?

Both Tauranga and Kaikoura have plenty of things to do for visitors. Both offer a variety of sights, activities, and attractions for tourists. Kaikoura is more popular for its food, while Tauranga is known for its museums and impressive beauty. Kaikoura is popular for its local Sperm Whale population, abundance of marine life, and local crayfish (lobster) recipes. Tauranga is popular for its sandy beaches and beautiful walking trails.

How is Kaikoura different from Tauranga?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

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

Kaikoura
Tauranga

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

Tauranga offers a variety of museums and landmarks to choose from. There are a number of historic buildings in town like the Elms Mission Station which dates back to 1847.

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 Tauranga? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Kaikoura
Tauranga

Kaikoura is a well-known place for its local cuisine and restaurants. Also, Tauranga is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its restaurants.

Dining out in Kaikoura is an experience not to be missed. 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.

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 Kaikoura or Tauranga Better for Nightlife?

Kaikoura
Tauranga

Both Kaikoura and Tauranga are good 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 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 Kaikoura or Tauranga Better for Beaches?

Kaikoura
Tauranga

For a relaxing beach holiday, both Kaikoura and Tauranga are high quality choices.

Kaikoura is considered a top beach destination. 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.

Tauranga is a very popular place to visit for its beaches. 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.


Is Kaikoura or Tauranga Better for Hiking?

Kaikoura
Tauranga

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

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.

Many visitors explore the nearby hiking trails while visiting 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.

Is the Shopping Better in Kaikoura or Tauranga?

Kaikoura
Tauranga

Both Kaikoura and Tauranga are good shopping destinations.

Kaikoura offers some nice shopping areas. There are local shops where you can pick up some interesting products that are unique to the area.

Tauranga has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. You'll find all of the standard shopping malls, retail outlets, and clothing boutiques around town.

Is Kaikoura or Tauranga Better for Families?

Kaikoura
Tauranga

Kids will enjoy a visit to either Kaikoura or Tauranga.

As it has a large number of activities for kids, Kaikoura is a very family-friendly destination. 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.

Tauranga is one of the most popular family destinations. 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.


Is Kaikoura or Tauranga Better for Couples?

Kaikoura
Tauranga

With fun activities for couples, both Kaikoura and Tauranga make for a high quality 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.

Tauranga makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. 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.

Is Kaikoura or Tauranga Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Kaikoura
Tauranga

Tauranga 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 Tauranga. 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.

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

Kaikoura
Tauranga

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

Tauranga has a few public transit options. There are buses, trains, and ferries in the area.

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 Tauranga a more walkable city?

Kaikoura
Tauranga

Kaikoura and Tauranga both are good 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.

Tauranga is a somewhat walkable town. 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 Kaikoura Worth Visiting? and Is Tauranga Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Tauranga or Kaikoura?

How long in Kaikoura or Tauranga?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Kaikoura and Tauranga. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Kaikoura than in Tauranga. Usually, 2-4 days is a good amount of time for Kaikoura, and 2-3 days is enough time in Tauranga.

Couples should spend more time in Tauranga than Kaikoura. 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 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 Tauranga.


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

One day in Kaikoura or Tauranga?

The town of Kaikoura offers nightlife and food. 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.

The beautiful town of Tauranga offers food and shopping. 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.

A weekend in Kaikoura or Tauranga?

Kaikoura 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. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Kaikoura, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

Tauranga 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. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Tauranga, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.


Five days in Kaikoura or Tauranga?

Kaikoura 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 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.

A week in Kaikoura or Tauranga?

Kaikoura is a great place to explore. 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.

Tauranga is a great place to explore. 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, Tauranga 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 Tauranga is $107. 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 Tauranga in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Kaikoura $50
    Tauranga $77
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Kaikoura $100
    Tauranga $154
Compare Hotels in Kaikoura and Tauranga

Looking for a hotel in Kaikoura 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 Kaikoura


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: Kaikoura Hotel Prices and Tauranga Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Kaikoura $18
    Tauranga $7.02

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 Kaikoura or Tauranga?

Prices for flights to both Tauranga 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
    Tauranga $22

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Kaikoura $158
    Tauranga $11

Tours and Activities in Kaikoura

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

  • Seal-Watching Pedal Kayak Tour: $62
  • Llama Trek (Taster) - Kowhai River Valley and Native Woodland Tour: $84
  • Sunset Kayak tour in Kaikoura: $85
  • Seal Kayaking Adventure in Kaikoura: $85
  • Guided Family Kayaking Adventure: $92
  • Half-Day Wildlife Kayaking Tour: $92
  • Wildlife Kayaking Tour at Sunset: $92
  • Sunset Evening Kayaking Tour - Kaikoura: $94
  • Wildlife Sea Kayaking Tour - Kaikoura: $94
  • Kaikōura: Zipline and Native Forest Adventure Trip: $97
  • Half Day Zipline Adventure in Kaikoura: $100
  • Whale Watching Cruise: $101

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: $75
  • Evening Big Kanu Glowworm Tour: $86

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Kaikoura -
    Tauranga $11


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

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


Which is Bigger, Kaikoura or Tauranga?

Tauranga has a larger population, and is about 160 times larger than the population of Kaikoura. When comparing the sizes of Kaikoura 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.