A Travel Price Comparison for New Zealand Lake Tekapo vs. Aoraki Mount Cook for Hiking, Couples, Families, and Backpackers

Should you visit Lake Tekapo or Aoraki Mount Cook?

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

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the activities as well as the prices of travel for Lake Tekapo and Aoraki Mount Cook. We'll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget, schedule, and interests. So, let's dig into it.

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo is a remote, basic, and small town. With fun activities and sights, this is a small town worth visiting. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. It's also popular because of the hiking.

Aoraki Mount Cook

Aoraki Mount Cook is a scenic, dramatic, and breathtaking mountain. The famous beauty of this place is one of the main draws. Other popular activities here include hiking.

Lake Tekapo and Aoraki Mount Cook: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with couples
Pros
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty


Is there more to do in Lake Tekapo or Aoraki Mount Cook?

Both Aoraki Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo have plenty of things to do for travelers. Both provide a wide variety of sights and activities for tourists. Lake Tekapo is very popular for its nightlife, shopping, and small town charm, while Aoraki Mount Cook attracts visitors for its hiking and impressive beauty. Aoraki Mount Cook is more touristy than Lake Tekapo and is popular for its glaciers, alpine setting, and being the highest mountain in New Zealand. Lake Tekapo is famous for its hot springs, remote location, and beautiful night sky.

How is Lake Tekapo different from Aoraki Mount Cook?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Aoraki Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Is the Food Better in Lake Tekapo or Aoraki Mount Cook? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Lake Tekapo
Aoraki Mount Cook

Local dishes at restaurants are fun to try in both Lake Tekapo and Aoraki Mount Cook.

Lake Tekapo may not make the list for most foodies, but you'll find what you need while you're in town. The town is very small with just a couple of restaurants and fast food joints.

Aoraki Mount Cook offers some easy restaurants to choose from. There are a few cafes and restaurants in the village, but if you're doing any hiking you should pack your own food.


Is Lake Tekapo or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Nightlife?

Lake Tekapo
Aoraki Mount Cook

Lake Tekapo is mediocre for its evening party scene. However, Aoraki Mount Cook is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.

The nightlife scene is quiet in Lake Tekapo This is a very small town and there isn't a real nightlife scene. The night sky is incredible though, and you should absolutely do some stargazing.

Aoraki Mount Cook is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.

Is Lake Tekapo or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Hiking?

Lake Tekapo
Aoraki Mount Cook

Aoraki Mount Cook is terrific for its hiking experiences. Also, Lake Tekapo is still popular, but not quite as popular for hiking.

Aoraki Mount Cook is well-known for its hiking and trekking. There are beginner trails as well as world class routes that bring out expert climbers. As the highest peak in New Zealand, many people come here for the challenge, but if you're looking for a most simple experience, the hiking opportunities are still abundant.

Many visitors go to Lake Tekapo for the hiking trails. There are many beautiful hikes in the area with some of the most popular being the Mount John Summit Track, the Richmond Trail, and Cowan's Hill Walkway.

Is the Shopping Better in Lake Tekapo or Aoraki Mount Cook?

Lake Tekapo
Aoraki Mount Cook

Lake Tekapo is mediocre for its shopping areas. However, Aoraki Mount Cook is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Shopping in Lake Tekapo can be found for those interested. There are a couple of shops where you can pick up basic necessities.

Aoraki Mount Cook is not a noteworthy shopping destination.


Is Lake Tekapo or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Families?

Lake Tekapo
Aoraki Mount Cook

Lake Tekapo is great for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Aoraki Mount Cook is not as popular, but is still a nice mountain for its family-friendly activities.

You'll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in Lake Tekapo. Kids will enjoy a visit to Tekapo Springs, which is particularly fun in the winter months. There's snow tubing, ice skating, and, of course, the hot pools. There are also short hikes in the area like the Mount John Summit Walk. Biking, paddleboarding, and kayaking are also popular in the area.

Aoraki Mount Cook is a family-friendly place to visit. There are plenty of short walks that are perfect for little legs. Kids will also enjoy the boat rides on the lakes and the area's superb stargazing.

Is Lake Tekapo or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Couples?

Lake Tekapo
Aoraki Mount Cook

Aoraki Mount Cook is terrific for couples. Also, Lake Tekapo is still popular, but not quite as popular for romance.

Aoraki Mount Cook is fantastic couple's destination with fun and romantic activities. Couples will enjoy the stunning glaciers, beautiful walks, and iconic views. Many couples take helicopter rides to fully experience the area. Stargazing and hiking is also high on the list of must-do romantic activities.

Lake Tekapo is a nice destination for couples. Couples will enjoy the stunning scenery, beautiful hikes, and the romantic hot springs. Stargazing is another popular activity in the area.

Is Lake Tekapo or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Lake Tekapo
Aoraki Mount Cook

Lake Tekapo and Aoraki Mount Cook are nice places to visit for backpackers and budget travelers.

Plenty of backpackers visit Lake Tekapo. It's a small town with a couple of cheap places to stay that backpackers will appreciate.

Plenty of budget travelers visit Aoraki Mount Cook. While many activities in the area are expensive, the hiking is world class and there are a few hostels and camping opportunities nearby.


Is Lake Tekapo or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Lake Tekapo
Aoraki Mount Cook

Neither Lake Tekapo or Aoraki Mount Cook offer decent public transit.

Public transit is limited or non-existant in Lake Tekapo. Public transportation in the area is very limited. If you don't have a car, you'll want to arrange tours to get out and about.

Public transit is quite limited in Aoraki Mount Cook. Having a car is essential unless you take a private tour that provides transportation.

Is Lake Tekapo or Aoraki Mount Cook a more walkable city?

Lake Tekapo
Aoraki Mount Cook

Lake Tekapo is a good destination for its ease of walking around. However, Aoraki Mount Cook is not a good destination for its walkability.

Lake Tekapo is a somewhat walkable town. The town is small enough to get around on foot, and you can hire a tour to get out into the region.

Aoraki Mount Cook is generally not very walkable. While there are many trails through the region, you really must have a car to access the trail heads and efficiently get around.

For even more information, also check out Is Lake Tekapo Worth Visiting? and Is Aoraki Mount Cook Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Aoraki Mount Cook or Lake Tekapo?

How long in Lake Tekapo or Aoraki Mount Cook?

It's fun to spend time in either Lake Tekapo or Aoraki Mount Cook. Generally, people tend to spend more time in Aoraki Mount Cook due to the larger number of activities and things to do. Usually, 1-2 days is a good amount of time for Lake Tekapo, and 2-4 days is enough time in Aoraki Mount Cook.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Lake Tekapo than Aoraki Mount Cook 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 Lake Tekapo.


  • How many days in Lake Tekapo or Aoraki Mount Cook? Ideal Length of Stay
    Lake Tekapo 1-2 
    Aoraki Mount Cook 2-4

One day in Lake Tekapo or Aoraki Mount Cook?

With around the destination of Lake Tekapo, there's plenty to do. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. One day is often enough time to do most activities. It offers something for everyone.

Visitors enjoy the when visiting the breathtaking mountain of Aoraki Mount Cook. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Most people visit for the hiking. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.


A weekend in Lake Tekapo or Aoraki Mount Cook?

With around the small town of Lake Tekapo, there's plenty to do. Your budget might influence how long you stay. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here.

Visitors enjoy the when visiting the dramatic destination of Aoraki Mount Cook. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. This mountain offers something for everyone. Plenty of people spend a weekend in the area when traveling. If you enjoy all that's offered here, then a weekend is just the right amount of time to spend here.

Five days in Lake Tekapo or Aoraki Mount Cook?

Travelers enjoy the when visiting the basic destination of Lake Tekapo. Hikers are also drawn to this area. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days.

The scenic mountain of Aoraki Mount Cook offers . Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

A week in Lake Tekapo or Aoraki Mount Cook?

Lake Tekapo is a popular choice for travelers. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. This town offers a variety of activities to choose from. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.

Many people enjoy the when visiting Aoraki Mount Cook. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. Most people visit for the hiking. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Tours for Seniors to New Zealand, The Best Contiki Tours to New Zealand, The Best G Adventures Tours to New Zealand, and The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Auckland.


Which place is cheaper, Aoraki Mount Cook or Lake Tekapo?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Lake Tekapo is $78, while the average daily cost in Aoraki Mount Cook is $109. 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 Lake Tekapo and Aoraki Mount Cook in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Lake Tekapo $61
    Aoraki Mount Cook $62
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Lake Tekapo $122
    Aoraki Mount Cook $124
Compare Hotels in Lake Tekapo and Aoraki Mount Cook

Looking for a hotel in Lake Tekapo or Aoraki Mount Cook? 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 Lake Tekapo


Hotels in Aoraki Mount Cook


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: Lake Tekapo Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Lake Tekapo -
    Aoraki Mount Cook $28

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Aoraki Mount Cook

Also for Aoraki Mount Cook, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Transfer from Dunedin City Hotels to Chalmers Cruise Port: $44

Is it cheaper to fly into Lake Tekapo or Aoraki Mount Cook?

Prices for flights to both Aoraki Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo 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
    Lake Tekapo $13
    Aoraki Mount Cook $27

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Lake Tekapo -
    Aoraki Mount Cook $24

Tours and Activities in Lake Tekapo

Here are a few actual costs in Lake Tekapo for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • Lake Tekapo Tour Scenic 4WD Mountains & Glaciers: $187
  • 45 Minutes Virtual Stargazing Experience in Lake Tekapo: $45
  • Chameleon Stargazing Shared Tour: $62
  • Crater Experience at Cowan's Observatory: $88
  • Dark Sky Indoor Cultural Astronomy Experience: $32
  • High Country Farm Tour - Lake Tekapo: $61
  • Lake Tekapo Fishing Tour: $184
  • Lake Tekapo Guided 4WD Tours: $184
  • Lake Tekapo Scenic 4WD Cass Valley Wilderness Tour: $184
  • Alpine Stargazing Experience with a Guide: $61
  • Dark Sky Virtual Stargazing Experience: $42
  • Indoor Māori Cultural Astronomy Experience: $31

Tours and Activities in Aoraki Mount Cook

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Aoraki Mount Cook.

  • Fox Glacier Nature Tour: $57
  • Franz Josef Nature Tour: $57
  • Lake Matheson Nature Tour: $57
  • Mt. Cook to Queenstown Small Group Tour (1-way) : $110
  • From Christchurch: Mount Cook One-Way Discovery Tour: $122
  • Mt Cook to Christchurch 1 Way Small Group Tour, via Lake Tekapo : $126
  • Mount Cook to Queenstown Day Tour: $154
  • Day Tours from Mount Cook: $158
  • Mt Cook Small Group Tour from Queenstown with Optional Activities : $158
  • Mt Cook & Hooker Valley Hike Small Group Tour from Queenstown: $158
  • (MT) Mount Cook & Lake Tekapo Day Tour from Christchurch: $184
  • Gold Hunting Adventures: $233

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Lake Tekapo -
    Aoraki Mount Cook $21

Sample the Local Flavors in Aoraki Mount Cook

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Aoraki Mount Cook:

  • Kinross Winery: Classic Central Otago Wine Tasting Experience: $16
  • Kinross Winery: Wild Irishman Wine Tasting Experience: $47
  • Kinross Winery: Premium Central Otago Wine Tasting Experience: $47


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

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Lake Tekapo Expensive? and Is Aoraki Mount Cook Expensive?.