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

Should you visit Lake Tekapo or Picton?

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 Picton. 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. It's a very nice small town not to be missed. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. Other popular activities here include hiking.

Picton

Picton is a relaxing, picturesque, and scenic town. Don't miss this spot, as it's a charming small town with plenty of activities. Other popular activities here include beaches, hiking, and shopping.

Lake Tekapo and Picton: 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 shopping
  • Public transit not as usable
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good public transit


Is there more to do in Lake Tekapo or Picton?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Picton. Although Lake Tekapo and Picton are popular destinations, Picton has more sights and attractions for tourists. Picton is very popular for its museums, food, nightlife, beaches, and shopping, while Lake Tekapo attracts visitors for its impressive beauty. Picton is more touristy than Lake Tekapo and is known for its picturesque scenery, laid back setting, and beautiful walking trails. It is also well known for the Queen Charlotte Track. Lake Tekapo is famous for its hot springs, remote location, and beautiful night sky.

How is Lake Tekapo different from Picton?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Lake Tekapo
Picton

Picton 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 Picton. There are a few local museums around town that are fun to visit with the weather isn't cooperating. Edwin Fox Ship is the world's oldest merchant ship. You can also learn about the town's whaling past at the Picton Heritage and Whaling Museum.

Lake Tekapo does not have museums and landmarks.


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

Lake Tekapo
Picton

Picton 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 Picton is an experience not to be missed. The town is filled with restaurants that stay true to New Zealand's culinary traditions. Mussels and salmon are common on menus, and there are many bakeries and waterfront cafes to try.

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 Picton Better for Nightlife?

Lake Tekapo
Picton

Picton is a town with a few options for its evening party scene. However, Lake Tekapo is a town with minimal options for nightlife.

Picton is generally a quiet destination but there are options around. It's a small town with a quiet and calm atmosphere.

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 Picton Better for Beaches?

Lake Tekapo
Picton

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

Many people visit Picton for it's beautiful beaches. There are four beaches in the area. Picton Beach is by the town center and near many restaurants and cafes. About a ten minute walk from town is Shelley Beach and if you're up for more walking, Bob's Bay is secluded and nice. If you have a car you can make it to Governer's Bay.

Lake Tekapo is not a beach destination.


Is Lake Tekapo or Picton Better for Hiking?

Lake Tekapo
Picton

Hiking trails can be found around both Lake Tekapo and Picton, and they are excellent.

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 Picton for the hiking trails. There are many nice walking paths in the area and this is a great way to explore, reach beaches, and see the surrounding landscapes. If you're up for a longer trip, Queen Charlotte Track is a popular trail.

Is the Shopping Better in Lake Tekapo or Picton?

Lake Tekapo
Picton

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

Many visitors go to Picton to go shopping. There are a few galleries and local shops around town.

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 Picton Better for Families?

Lake Tekapo
Picton

Both Lake Tekapo and Picton are excellent 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.

Picton is a very family-friendly destination. Kids will enjoy taking a boat cruise to Motuara Island. You can see dolphins, birds, and other wildlife. There are also wildlife centers in the area, family-friendly walking trails, museums, aquariums, and kayaking opportunities.


Is Lake Tekapo or Picton Better for Couples?

Lake Tekapo
Picton

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

Couples visit Picton frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. There are romantic and quaint bed and breakfasts, beautiful walking paths, wildlife encounters, and many more fun activities for couples. Kayak trips, vineyard tours, and local spas make this a great couple's getaway destination.

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 Picton Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Lake Tekapo
Picton

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

Picton is a very popular town for backpackers and budget travelers. There are plenty of hostels in the area as well as great transportation links, making this a great spot for backpackers.

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 Picton Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Lake Tekapo
Picton

Picton 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 Picton, but it may not be enough to take you everywhere. There are water taxis but no buses 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 Picton a more walkable city?

Lake Tekapo
Picton

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

Picton is a very walkable destination. It's a quaint and compact town that's 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 Picton Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Picton or Lake Tekapo?

How long in Lake Tekapo or Picton?

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

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

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

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


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

One day in Lake Tekapo or Picton?

Many travelers enjoy the when visiting the destination of Lake Tekapo. Hikers are also drawn to this area. One day is often enough time to do most activities.

Visitors enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the scenic town of Picton. It's also a great beach destination, too. 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 Picton?

Lake Tekapo is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Visitors enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the scenic destination of Picton. 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 Picton?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Lake Tekapo. 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. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

The relaxing town of Picton offers museums and food. 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 Picton?

Travelers enjoy the when visiting the remote destination of Lake Tekapo. This town offers a variety of activities to choose from. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

Many people enjoy the food and shopping when visiting Picton. 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.


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, Picton 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 Picton is $88. 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 Picton in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Lake Tekapo $60
    Picton $37
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Lake Tekapo $120
    Picton $74
Compare Hotels in Lake Tekapo and Picton

Looking for a hotel in Lake Tekapo or Picton? 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 Picton


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 Picton Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Lake Tekapo -
    Picton -

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Picton

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Picton:

  • Private Transfer from Blenheim Airport (BHE) to Picton Port: $46
  • Private Transfer from Blenheim city hotels to Picton Cruise Port: $39
  • Private Transfer from Picton Cruise Port to Blenheim City Hotels: $38
  • Private Transfer from Picton Port to Blenheim Airport (BHE): $46

Is it cheaper to fly into Lake Tekapo or Picton?

Prices for flights to both Picton 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
    Picton $20

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Lake Tekapo -
    Picton $110

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: $41
  • 45 Minutes Virtual Stargazing Experience in Lake Tekapo: $43
  • Alpine Stargazing Experience with a Guide: $60
  • High Country Farm Tour - Lake Tekapo: $60
  • Shared Stargazing Tour: $61
  • 中文观星团 Chinese tour: $66
  • Stargazing Experience: $66
  • Crater Experience at Cowan's Observatory: $86
  • From Tekapo: Mt Cook day tour via Pukaki, Tasman Glacier: $102
  • Summit Experience - University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory: $117

Tours and Activities in Picton

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

  • Picton Self-Guided Audio Tour: $15
  • Skip the Line: Dangerous Skies WWII Exhibition - Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre: $15
  • Hinterland Cycling Tour, Havelock: $25
  • Skip the Line:WWI & WWII Combo Exhibitions at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre: $30
  • Winery Express Tour: $40
  • Queen Charlotte Sounds Sightseeing Cruise: $42
  • Queen Charlotte Track: Cruise & Self-Guided Hike from Picton: $52
  • Kayaking Mangrove Adventure at Havelock: $56
  • Marlborough Sounds and Ship Cove Cruise from Picton: $58
  • Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary and Ship Cove Cruise from Picton: $59
  • Half-Day Cruise in Marlborough Sounds from Picton: $59
  • Cruise Ship Day - Marlborough: $61

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Lake Tekapo -
    Picton $35

Sample the Local Flavors in Picton

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

  • Self-Guided Biking Wine Tour (full day) in the Marlborough Region.: $37
  • Self-Guided Wine Tours by Bike with Steve & Jo in Marlborough : $40
  • Marlborough: Hop On Hop Off Wine, Brewery, and Wonders Tour: $54
  • Hop on Hop off Wine Tours Marlborough: $55
  • Marlborough Afternoon Wine Tour with Tastings: $71
  • Half-Day Wine Tour from Picton: $89
  • Half-Day Wine Tour from Blenheim: $89
  • Discover Marlborough Wine - Afternoon Marlborough Wine Tour : $92
  • Morning Guided with Afternoon Self-Guided Biking Wine Tour: $92
  • Marlborough Discovery Sampler Wine Tour - 1/2Day Blenheim: $98
  • Taste the Valley Wine Tour in Marlborough with Wine Tasting: $101
  • Half-Day Marlborough Wine Tour & Beer Tour : $110


When comparing the travel costs between Lake Tekapo and Picton, we can see that Picton is more expensive. However, the two cities are actually relatively comparable in price, as the difference is somewhat minimal. Generally, this means that you could travel with generally the same travel style and level of luxury in each place. Since both cities are in Pacific, it's no surprise that their costs are relatively close, as many destinations here have somewhat similar travel prices overall.

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 Picton Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Lake Tekapo or Picton?

Picton has a larger population, and is about 9 times larger than the population of Lake Tekapo. When comparing the sizes of Lake Tekapo and Picton, 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.