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

Should you visit Lake Tekapo or Christchurch?

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 Christchurch. 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 small, remote, and basic town. Don't miss this spot, as it's a charming small town with plenty of activities. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. And you can't forget about the hiking.

Christchurch

Christchurch is a adventure-filled, cultural, and outdoorsy city. It offers plenty of beauty for visitors. Other popular activities here include beaches, hiking, and shopping.

Lake Tekapo and Christchurch: 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 museums and historical sights
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Good public transit


Is there more to do in Lake Tekapo or Christchurch?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Christchurch. Although Lake Tekapo and Christchurch are both popular with visitors, Christchurch has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Christchurch is more popular for its museums, food, nightlife, beaches, and shopping, while Lake Tekapo is known for its small town charm and impressive beauty. Lake Tekapo is popular for its hot springs, remote location, and beautiful night sky. Christchurch is popular for its outdoor beauty and relaxing, scenic atmosphere. It is also home to the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

How is Lake Tekapo different from Christchurch?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

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

Lake Tekapo
Christchurch

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

Visitors can fill many days exploring the museums and attractions around Christchurch. The city is filled with street art and local galleries. There's also Canterbury Museum, the International Antarctic Centre, the Arts Centre, and the Riccarton House & Bush.

Lake Tekapo does not have museums and landmarks.


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

Lake Tekapo
Christchurch

Christchurch 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 Christchurch is an experience not to be missed. There's a mix of cozy cafes and casual eateries around town. You'll also find some fine dining restaurants as well as international flavors.

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 Christchurch Better for Nightlife?

Lake Tekapo
Christchurch

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

The people in Christchurch know how to have a good time. The city has its share of dance clubs, live music venues, and laid back bars. You'll find a number of popular hangout spots around Oxford Terrace or on the historic New Regent Street.

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 Christchurch Better for Beaches?

Lake Tekapo
Christchurch

Christchurch is a great destination for the beach. However, Lake Tekapo is not a beach destination.

Many people visit Christchurch for it's beautiful beaches. There are sandy beaches in the area with water sports and various amenities. The summer months are the most popular time for hanging out at the beach, and you'll find local families playing in the sun or enjoying a picnic.

Lake Tekapo is not a beach destination.


Is Lake Tekapo or Christchurch Better for Hiking?

Lake Tekapo
Christchurch

Hiking trails can be found around both Lake Tekapo and Christchurch, and they are superb.

You'll find a nice variety of hiking trails around Lake Tekapo. 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.

Many visitors go to Christchurch for the hiking trails. There are many beautiful hikes in the area that take you along the coastline or past local historic sights. The landscape is diverse and you'll find many amazing parks in the area. Hooker Valley Track is one of the best hiking routes nearby.

Is the Shopping Better in Lake Tekapo or Christchurch?

Lake Tekapo
Christchurch

Christchurch 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 Christchurch. There's a mix of boutique shops, outlet malls, and open air markets. Some of the best shopping places include the Tannery and the Colombo.

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 Christchurch Better for Families?

Lake Tekapo
Christchurch

Christchurch is terrific for its family-friendly activities. Also, Lake Tekapo is still popular, but not quite as popular for its kid-friendly activities.

With a huge array of activities for kids, Christchurch is very family-friendly. The International Antarctic Centre is a thrilling and fun experience. There's also the Orana Wildlife Park or Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. For adrenaline junkies there are the ropes courses at the Adrenalin Forest. There are also many indoor playgrounds and rock climbing facilities.

Lake Tekapo is a very family-friendly destination. 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.


Is Lake Tekapo or Christchurch Better for Couples?

Lake Tekapo
Christchurch

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

Couples visit Christchurch frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. Punting on the Avon River is one of the most romantic activities in the city. There are also botanical gardens, parks, and natural areas that are fun to explore. Nearby, you can do a wine tour, or there are cocktail bars and charming restaurants in town. The city also has a nice theater and many other date night 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 Christchurch Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Lake Tekapo
Christchurch

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

Christchurch is a very popular city for backpackers and budget travelers. There's no shortage of hostels around town, and many backpackers pass through Christchurch on their epic New Zealand adventure.

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 Christchurch Better for Students?

Lake Tekapo
Christchurch

Christchurch is a great destination for students. However, Lake Tekapo is not popular with students.

Many students visit Christchurch. It's the largest city on the South Island and there are plenty of activities and nearby trips that you can enjoy.

Lake Tekapo is not popular with students.


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

Lake Tekapo
Christchurch

Christchurch 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 Christchurch, but it may not be enough to take you everywhere. While it's not a diverse transit system, the buses are well connected and offer the cheapest way to get around town.

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 Christchurch a more walkable city?

Lake Tekapo
Christchurch

Christchurch is a great destination for its ease of walking around. Also, Lake Tekapo is still popular, but not quite as popular for its walkability.

Christchurch is a very walkable destination. The city center is relatively flat and easy to explore on foot.

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

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

Should I spend more time in Christchurch or Lake Tekapo?

How long in Lake Tekapo or Christchurch?

It's fun to spend time in either Lake Tekapo or Christchurch. Generally, people tend to spend more time in Christchurch 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 Christchurch.

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

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

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


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

One day in Lake Tekapo or Christchurch?

In Lake Tekapo, many people enjoy the that this basic town offers. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. In one day, you should have a good grasp of this town.

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the adventure-filled city of Christchurch. It's also a great beach destination, too. 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 Christchurch?

Lake Tekapo is a fun place to experience. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. If you have a weekend, this is a great place to go. It will give you the chance to have new experiences. So, a weekend is just the right amount of time to spend here.

Visitors enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the outdoorsy destination of Christchurch. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. This city 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 Christchurch?

You'll find around the remote destination of Lake Tekapo. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days.

The cultural city of Christchurch offers shopping and museums. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. 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 Christchurch?

Lake Tekapo is a popular place to visit. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Christchurch. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Most people come for the beaches. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.


Which place is cheaper, Christchurch 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 Christchurch is $99. 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 Christchurch in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Lake Tekapo $62
    Christchurch $51
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Lake Tekapo $124
    Christchurch $102
Compare Hotels in Lake Tekapo and Christchurch

Looking for a hotel in Lake Tekapo or Christchurch? 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 Christchurch


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 Christchurch Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Lake Tekapo -
    Christchurch $15

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Christchurch

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Christchurch:

  • Arrival Private Transfer from Airport CHC to Christchurch in Business Car: $66
  • Arrival Private Transfer from Airport CHC to Christchurch in Luxury Van: $92
  • Arrival Transfer: Christchurch Airport to Christchurch Central City Hotels: $19
  • Christchurch Airport (CHC) to Christchurch - Round-Trip Transfer: $64
  • Christchurch Airport (CHC): Transfer to Christchurch hotels: $131
  • Christchurch Airport Transfers: $84
  • Christchurch Airport Transfers : Airport CHC to Christchurch in Business Car: $66
  • Christchurch Airport Transfers : Airport CHC to Christchurch in Luxury Car: $108
  • Christchurch Airport Transfers : Airport CHC to Christchurch in Luxury Van: $92
  • Christchurch Airport Transfers : Christchurch to Airport CHC in Business Car: $66
  • Christchurch Airport Transfers : Christchurch to Airport CHC in Luxury Car: $108
  • Christchurch Airport Transfers : Christchurch to Airport CHC in Luxury Van: $92

Is it cheaper to fly into Lake Tekapo or Christchurch?

Prices for flights to both Christchurch 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
    Christchurch $32

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Lake Tekapo -
    Christchurch $18

Tours and Activities in Lake Tekapo

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

  • Indoor Māori Cultural Astronomy Experience: $31
  • Dark Sky Indoor Cultural Astronomy Experience: $33
  • Dark Sky Virtual Stargazing Experience: $43
  • 45 Minutes Virtual Stargazing Experience in Lake Tekapo: $45
  • High Country Farm Tour - Lake Tekapo: $61
  • Stargazing Experience: $68
  • 中文观星团 Chinese tour: $68
  • Crater Experience at Cowan's Observatory: $89
  • From Tekapo: Mt Cook day tour via Pukaki, Tasman Glacier: $105
  • Summit Experience - University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory: $120
  • Mt Cook Day Tour From Tekapo (Small Group, Carbon Neutral): $158
  • Lake Tekapo Scenic 4WD Cass Valley Wilderness Tour: $173

Tours and Activities in Christchurch

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

  • Chairlift Sightseeing Pass at the Christchurch Adventure Park: $13
  • Hop-On Hop-Off Tour by Vintage Tram: $22
  • Christchurch Gondola Ride Ticket: $25
  • Christchurch International Antarctic Centre Entry Tickets: $37
  • International Antarctic Center General Admission Ticket: $37
  • Christchurch Tram City Tour & Punting Combo: $43
  • Christchurch Gondola and Tram City Tour Combo: $43
  • Gondola Ticket and Punt Ride on the Avon River: $46
  • Discover Christchurch Sightseeing Tour with optional International Antarctic Center Admission: $54
  • Tram, Punt and Gondola Ride Combo Ticket: $65
  • Waipara Wine Trail Afternoon Tour from Christchurch: $79
  • Christchurch Zipline Tour: $92

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Lake Tekapo -
    Christchurch $12

Sample the Local Flavors in Christchurch

Also in Christchurch, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • From Full-Day Wine Tour with Lunch: $105
  • Lyttelton Shore Excursion - Waipara Wine Tour With Lunch: $108
  • All-Inclusive Waipara Region Wine Tour from Christchurch: $111
  • Lyttelton Shore Excursion - City Highlights & Waipara Wine Tour : $124
  • From Guided Local Wine Tours in Waipara: $124
  • Akaroa Craft Distillery HeliGin Experience: $555


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


Which is Bigger, Lake Tekapo or Christchurch?

Christchurch has a larger population, and is about 1100 times larger than the population of Lake Tekapo. When comparing the sizes of Lake Tekapo and Christchurch, 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.