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

Should you visit Lake Tekapo or Arrowtown?

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 Arrowtown. 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 basic, small, and remote town. This is a charming small with plenty of activities, too. This is also a very beautiful destination which attracts plenty of visitors. Other reasons to visit include hiking.

Arrowtown

Arrowtown is a quaint, quirky, and historic town. Because it offers so much small town charm with a variety of activities, it attracts plenty of visitors for a good reason. As this is a very quaint destination, you'll find it has a special atmosphere. Other popular activities here include food, hiking, and shopping.

Lake Tekapo and Arrowtown: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for food
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less popular for shopping
  • Public transit not as usable
Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Scenic old town
  • Good for hiking
  • Fun shopping
  • 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 Lake Tekapo or Arrowtown?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Arrowtown than Lake Tekapo, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Arrowtown is better known for its skiing, museums, food, nightlife, historical sights, hiking, shopping, small town charm, and quaint atmosphere, while Lake Tekapo is more popular for its impressive beauty. Arrowtown is more touristy than Lake Tekapo and is popular for its gold rush history, impressive ski slopes, and famous hikes. Also, Arrowtown is famous for the Chinese Settlement. Lake Tekapo is well known for its hot springs, remote location, and beautiful night sky.

How is Lake Tekapo different from Arrowtown?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Lake Tekapo or Arrowtown Better for Skiing?

Lake Tekapo
Arrowtown

Arrowtown is a great destination for winter skiing. However, Lake Tekapo is not a skiing destination.

Arrowtown is a well-known ski destination which attracts visitors from far and wide. In the area you'll find amazing skiing that ranges from professional level to family-friendly.

Lake Tekapo is not a skiing destination.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Lake Tekapo or Arrowtown?

Lake Tekapo
Arrowtown

Arrowtown is a good destination for its museums and landmarks. However, Lake Tekapo does not have museums and landmarks.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Arrowtown. The town feels likes a living museum with its historic sights. There's also the Lakes District Museum in town that you can visit.

Lake Tekapo does not have museums and landmarks.

Is the Food Better in Lake Tekapo or Arrowtown? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Lake Tekapo
Arrowtown

Arrowtown is a great destination for its restaurant scene. However, Lake Tekapo is a town with minimal options for its local flavors and cuisine.

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

Lake Tekapo offers some easy restaurants to choose from. The town is very small with just a couple of restaurants and fast food joints.

Is Lake Tekapo or Arrowtown Better for Nightlife?

Lake Tekapo
Arrowtown

Arrowtown is a good destination for its evening party scene. However, Lake Tekapo is a town with minimal options for nightlife.

Arrowtown has an active nightlife scene for those who seek it out. For such a small town, there's a surprisingly bustling nightlife scene with casual pubs and waterfront bars.

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.


Is Lake Tekapo or Arrowtown Better for its Old Town?

Lake Tekapo
Arrowtown

Arrowtown is a great destination for its historic old town charm. However, Lake Tekapo does not have a historic old town.

There are many historical things to see in the old town of 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.

Lake Tekapo does not have a historic old town.

Is Lake Tekapo or Arrowtown Better for Hiking?

Lake Tekapo
Arrowtown

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

Arrowtown is well-known for its hiking and trekking. 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 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 Arrowtown?

Lake Tekapo
Arrowtown

Arrowtown is a great destination for its shopping areas. However, Lake Tekapo is a town with minimal options for shopping.

Browsing through shops is a popular activity in Arrowtown. 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.

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


Is Lake Tekapo or Arrowtown Better for Families?

Lake Tekapo
Arrowtown

Both Lake Tekapo and Arrowtown are high quality family-friendly destinations.

Lake Tekapo is known to be a very family-friendly place to visit. 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.

Arrowtown is a very family-friendly destination. 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 Lake Tekapo or Arrowtown Better for Couples?

Lake Tekapo
Arrowtown

Arrowtown is a great destination for couples. Also, Lake Tekapo is still popular, but not quite as popular for romance.

Couples visit Arrowtown frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. 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.

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 Arrowtown Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Lake Tekapo
Arrowtown

Arrowtown is a great destination for backpackers. Also, Lake Tekapo is still popular, but not quite as popular for backpackers and budget travelers.

Arrowtown is a very popular town for backpackers and budget travelers. There are a couple of hostels in town and backpackers love the frequent festivals and activities that the town hosts.

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


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

Lake Tekapo
Arrowtown

Arrowtown is a good destination for its public transit. However, Lake Tekapo is a town with minimal options for times when you don't have a car.

You'll find some public transit in Arrowtown, but it may not be enough to take you everywhere. There are public buses throughout the region.

Public transit is quite limited 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.

Is Lake Tekapo or Arrowtown a more walkable city?

Lake Tekapo
Arrowtown

Lake Tekapo and Arrowtown both are notable when exploring on foot.

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.

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

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

Should I spend more time in Arrowtown or Lake Tekapo?

How long in Lake Tekapo or Arrowtown?

You'll be able to find lots of things to do in Lake Tekapo or Arrowtown to fill your time. In our opinion, Arrowtown has more to see and do, so we recommend spending more time in Arrowtown than Lake Tekapo. However, 1-2 days is a good amount of time to spend in either destination.

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

Couples should spend more time in Arrowtown than Lake Tekapo. 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 Lake Tekapo 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 Lake Tekapo or Arrowtown? Ideal Length of Stay
    Lake Tekapo 1-2 
    Arrowtown 1-2

One day in Lake Tekapo or Arrowtown?

You'll find around the town of Lake Tekapo. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. One day is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Lake Tekapo has to offer. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Arrowtown is a small town with plenty to do. The old town is one of the main draws for visitors. Most people visit for the hiking. One day should give you a good understanding of everything this town has to offer. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.


A weekend in Lake Tekapo or Arrowtown?

You'll find around the basic destination of Lake Tekapo. 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 might be a small town, but there's plenty to do in the area. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. This town 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 Arrowtown?

Travelers enjoy the when visiting the small town of Lake Tekapo. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. Five days is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

Because Arrowtown is a small town, it's easy to explore in a short amount of time. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. 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 Arrowtown?

Lake Tekapo is a popular choice for travelers. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. 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.

Since Arrowtown is a small town, it's easily explored when your time is limited. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Most visitors spend time around the old town while in the area. Most people visit for the hiking. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.


Which place is cheaper, Arrowtown 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 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 Lake Tekapo and Arrowtown in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Lake Tekapo $62
    Arrowtown $70
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Lake Tekapo $124
    Arrowtown $140
Compare Hotels in Lake Tekapo and Arrowtown

Looking for a hotel in Lake Tekapo 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 Lake Tekapo


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: Lake Tekapo Hotel Prices and Arrowtown Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Lake Tekapo -
    Arrowtown $28

Is it cheaper to fly into Lake Tekapo or Arrowtown?

Prices for flights to both Arrowtown 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
    Arrowtown $31

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Lake Tekapo -
    Arrowtown $15

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: $190
  • 45 Minutes Virtual Stargazing Experience in Lake Tekapo: $45
  • Crater Experience at Cowan's Observatory: $89
  • Dark Sky Indoor Cultural Astronomy Experience: $33
  • From Tekapo: Mt Cook day tour via Pukaki, Tasman Glacier: $105
  • High Country Farm Tour - Lake Tekapo: $61
  • Lake Tekapo Fishing Tour: $185
  • Lake Tekapo Scenic 4WD Cass Valley Wilderness Tour: $173
  • Dark Sky Virtual Stargazing Experience: $43
  • Indoor Māori Cultural Astronomy Experience: $31
  • Stargazing Experience: $68
  • 中文观星团 Chinese tour: $68

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: $56

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Lake Tekapo -
    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: $93


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Lake Tekapo and Arrowtown, we can see that Arrowtown 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 Arrowtown would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Arrowtown 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 Arrowtown Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Lake Tekapo or Arrowtown?

Arrowtown has a larger population, and is about 7 times larger than the population of Lake Tekapo. When comparing the sizes of Lake Tekapo 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.

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