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

Should you visit Lake Tekapo or Dunedin?

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 Dunedin. 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. Don't miss this spot, as it's a charming small town with plenty of activities. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. Other popular activities here include hiking.

Dunedin

Dunedin is a small, hilly, and cultural city. Other popular activities here include beaches, hiking, and shopping.

Lake Tekapo and Dunedin: 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 nightlife
  • Less popular for shopping
  • Public transit not as usable
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • 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 Dunedin?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Dunedin. Although Lake Tekapo and Dunedin are popular destinations, Dunedin has more sights and attractions for tourists. Dunedin is very popular for its museums, food, nightlife, beaches, and shopping, while Lake Tekapo attracts visitors for its hiking, small town charm, and impressive beauty. Lake Tekapo is famous for its hot springs, remote location, and beautiful night sky. Dunedin is famous for its wildlife and proximity to the Otago Peninsula. It is also well known for .


How is Lake Tekapo different from Dunedin?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Dunedin 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 Dunedin?

Lake Tekapo
Dunedin

Dunedin 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 Dunedin. The city has cultural scene that is centered around both Scottish and Maori heritage. Top sights around town include the Larnach Castle, the Dunedin Railway Station, Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, and the Otago Museum.

Lake Tekapo does not have museums and landmarks.


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

Lake Tekapo
Dunedin

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

There are many up and coming restaurants in the Dunedin area. The culinary scene in town continues to grow and improve. There are local eateries that have charm and character and serve interesting and 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 Dunedin Better for Nightlife?

Lake Tekapo
Dunedin

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

The people in Dunedin know how to have a good time. The town has eclectic bars and a diverse club scene that is fun to experience. It has a lively nightlife scene that is driven, in part, by the large student population.

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 Dunedin Better for Beaches?

Lake Tekapo
Dunedin

Dunedin is a good destination for the beach. However, Lake Tekapo is not a beach destination.

Dunedin offers a nice beach destination. Many of the beaches are just a short drive from the city center. The surf is surprisingly good and the beaches are fun during the warmer summer months.

Lake Tekapo is not a beach destination.


Is Lake Tekapo or Dunedin Better for Hiking?

Lake Tekapo
Dunedin

Lake Tekapo is well known for its hiking experiences. Also, Dunedin is still popular, but not quite as popular for hiking.

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 people include a hike when visiting Dunedin. There are biking and hiking trails that travel around town and through the surrounding landscapes.

Is the Shopping Better in Lake Tekapo or Dunedin?

Lake Tekapo
Dunedin

Dunedin 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 Dunedin. The shopping scene is diverse and eclectic with everything from vintage shops to fashion boutiques. Some of the most popular shopping areas are Edinburgh Way, Octagon Entertainment Precinct, Moray Place, and the Warehouse Precinct.

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 Dunedin Better for Families?

Lake Tekapo
Dunedin

Both Lake Tekapo and Dunedin are superb 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.

Dunedin is a very family-friendly destination. It's one of the largest cities on the South Island, and there are many educational opportunities and unique experiences available to kids. You can visit the Otago Museum or the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, take a wildlife cruise, or visit the Larnach Castle. You can also take a ride on the Inlander or simply hang out at a playground.


Is Lake Tekapo or Dunedin Better for Couples?

Lake Tekapo
Dunedin

Lake Tekapo and Dunedin both nice destinations for a couple.

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

Dunedin is a nice destination for couples. You can wander through the castle or explore one of the city's markets. There are also romantic restaurants and many opportunities to see wildlife.

Is Lake Tekapo or Dunedin Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Lake Tekapo
Dunedin

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

Dunedin is a very popular city for backpackers and budget travelers. There are many hostels around town and plenty of activities that keep backpackers entertained.

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 Dunedin Better for Students?

Lake Tekapo
Dunedin

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

Many students visit Dunedin. This is a large student city that is welcoming to international students and a popular place to study.

Lake Tekapo is not popular with students.


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

Lake Tekapo
Dunedin

Dunedin 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 Dunedin, but it may not be enough to take you everywhere. There a relatively decent bus system that travels through 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 Dunedin a more walkable city?

Lake Tekapo
Dunedin

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

Dunedin is a very walkable destination. Parts of the town are 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 Dunedin Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Dunedin or Lake Tekapo?

How long in Lake Tekapo or Dunedin?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Lake Tekapo and Dunedin. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Dunedin than in Lake Tekapo. Usually, 1-2 days is a good amount of time for Lake Tekapo, and 1-3 days is enough time in Dunedin.

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

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

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


  • How many days in Lake Tekapo or Dunedin? Ideal Length of Stay
    Lake Tekapo 1-2 
    Dunedin 1-3

One day in Lake Tekapo or Dunedin?

In Lake Tekapo, you'll find . Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. This town offers something for everyone. This would be the perfect place to spend one day, as it has just the right amount of activities.

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the small city of Dunedin. One day should give you a good understanding of everything this city has to offer. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.


A weekend in Lake Tekapo or Dunedin?

In Lake Tekapo, you'll find . The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. A weekend here is typical. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Lake Tekapo has to offer.

Visitors enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the small destination of Dunedin. 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 Dunedin?

Lake Tekapo is a great place to explore. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. Anyone can find something fun to do here.

The hilly city of Dunedin offers shopping and museums. 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 Dunedin?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Lake Tekapo. Many people enjoy the when visiting Lake Tekapo. 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.

Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Dunedin. Anyone can find something fun to do here. 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, Dunedin or Lake Tekapo?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Lake Tekapo is $76, while the average daily cost in Dunedin is $103. 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 Dunedin in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Lake Tekapo $60
    Dunedin $52
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Lake Tekapo $120
    Dunedin $104
Compare Hotels in Lake Tekapo and Dunedin

Looking for a hotel in Lake Tekapo or Dunedin? 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 Dunedin


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 Dunedin Hotel Prices.

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

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Dunedin

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Dunedin:

  • Arrival Private Transfer in Dunedin Intl Airport to Dunedin : $37
  • Dunedin to Dunedin Int Airport (DUD) - Departure Private Transfer: $37
  • Momona Airport: One-Way Private Transfer to Momona: $90
  • ONE WAY MOMONA: Transfer from /to Dunedin Airport: $125
  • Private Transfer from Chalmers Cruise Port to Dunedin City Hotels: $44
  • Private Transfer from Chalmers Port to Dunedin Airport (DUD): $44

Is it cheaper to fly into Lake Tekapo or Dunedin?

Prices for flights to both Dunedin 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
    Dunedin $29

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Lake Tekapo -
    Dunedin $17

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: $30
  • Dark Sky Indoor Cultural Astronomy Experience: $32
  • Dark Sky Virtual Stargazing Experience: $42
  • 45 Minutes Virtual Stargazing Experience in Lake Tekapo: $44
  • Alpine Stargazing Experience with a Guide: $60
  • High Country Farm Tour - Lake Tekapo: $60
  • Chameleon Stargazing Shared Tour: $62
  • Stargazing Experience: $66
  • Crater Experience at Cowan's Observatory: $87
  • From Tekapo: Mt Cook day tour via Pukaki, Tasman Glacier: $102
  • Summit Experience - University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory: $118
  • Mt Cook Day Tour From Tekapo (Small Group, Carbon Neutral): $153

Tours and Activities in Dunedin

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

  • Dunedin Self-Guided Audio Tour: $14
  • Dunedin Self-Guided Audio Tour: $14
  • Olveston Historic Home Guided Tour: $16
  • Quickie Tours 1 Hour City Sights Tour CRUISE PASSENGERS ONLY: $25
  • Skip the Line: Larnach Castle & Gardens Admission Ticket: $28
  • Heritage Dunedin City Walking Guided Tour: $31
  • Garden and City tour: $37
  • Monarch Wildlife Cruise: $39
  • Shore Excursion: V8 Trike, Peninsula and City Tour: $50
  • Larnach Castle & Gardens Tour from Dunedin winter : $50
  • Larnach Castle & Gardens Tour from Dunedin: $50
  • Nature and City Tour: $56

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Lake Tekapo -
    Dunedin $14

Sample the Local Flavors in Dunedin

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Dunedin:

  • Speight Brewery Small Group Guided Tour from Dunedin: $22
  • Emerson's Brewery Tour: $25


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


Which is Bigger, Lake Tekapo or Dunedin?

Dunedin has a larger population, and is about 350 times larger than the population of Lake Tekapo. When comparing the sizes of Lake Tekapo and Dunedin, 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.