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

Should you visit Lake Tekapo or Queenstown?

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 Queenstown. 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. It's a very nice small town not to be missed. This is also a very beautiful destination which attracts plenty of visitors. It's also known for hiking.

Queenstown

Queenstown is a nature-oriented, spirited, and bustling city. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. Other popular activities here include nightlife, food, and hiking.

Lake Tekapo and Queenstown: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for food
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less popular for shopping
  • Less popular with couples
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Public transit not as usable
Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for hiking
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Good public transit
  • Impressive beauty


Is there more to do in Lake Tekapo or Queenstown?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Queenstown than Lake Tekapo, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Queenstown is better known for its skiing, museums, food, nightlife, hiking, and shopping, while Lake Tekapo is more popular for its small town charm. Queenstown is more touristy than Lake Tekapo and is known for its world class skiing, adrenaline-filled adventure sports, and stunning mountain scenery. Also, Queenstown is famous for Kawarau Bridge. Lake Tekapo is well known for its hot springs, remote location, and beautiful night sky.

How is Lake Tekapo different from Queenstown?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Lake Tekapo or Queenstown Better for Skiing?

Lake Tekapo
Queenstown

Queenstown is terrific for winter skiing. However, Lake Tekapo is not a skiing destination.

Queenstown is a top destination for snow skiing, and it attracts visitors from around the world. There are four ski areas that are near the city, and many consider these among the best ski fields in New Zealand. The ski season runs from June until October and the skiing is world class.

Lake Tekapo is not a skiing destination.


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

Lake Tekapo
Queenstown

Queenstown is a city with a few options for its museums and landmarks. However, Lake Tekapo does not have museums and landmarks.

Queenstown offers a handful of options for museums and historical sights. People head to this city for its amazing outdoor activities, but you won't find much if you're looking for museums. You can check out the Lakes District Museum though.

Lake Tekapo does not have museums and landmarks.

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

Lake Tekapo
Queenstown

Queenstown is terrific for its restaurant scene. However, Lake Tekapo is a town with minimal options for its local flavors and cuisine.

Eat your way through Queenstown, as it has many local or world renowned restaurants to choose from. Located in the heart of the Otago wine region, this city has many award-winning restaurants. Local dishes, vegan cafes, and international flavors all make for a cosmopolitan and world class dining scene.

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 Queenstown Better for Nightlife?

Lake Tekapo
Queenstown

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

The people in Queenstown know how to have a good time. This cosmopolitan town has some of the best nightlife in the country. There are laid back pubs, trendy cocktail bars, and live music venues that make for a fun night out.

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 Queenstown Better for Hiking?

Lake Tekapo
Queenstown

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

Queenstown is well-known for its hiking and trekking. The city is ideally located near some of the country's best hiking. There are walks through beech forests, along rugged mountains, and to stunning views. Several of the Great Walks are in the area as well, but if you're looking for something a little simpler, then there are many options also.

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 Queenstown?

Lake Tekapo
Queenstown

Queenstown 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 Queenstown. It's a bustling city with designer brands and boutique shopping. There are also souvenir shops and retail outlets.

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 Queenstown Better for Families?

Lake Tekapo
Queenstown

Both Lake Tekapo and Queenstown 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.

Queenstown is a very family-friendly destination. Kids will enjoy the Queenstown cable car and the Skyline Gondola. After a ride on the gondola, you can even take the luge back down! The city also offers lake cruises, family-friendly farm tours, boat tours, and kayaking.


Is Lake Tekapo or Queenstown Better for Couples?

Lake Tekapo
Queenstown

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

Queenstown is fantastic couple's destination with fun and romantic activities. The city is known for its adrenaline-filled adventure activities and couples who enjoy a thrill will appreciate the fun. There are also hot springs, boat cruises, and wine tours in the area. One of the most romantic activities is dinner at the Skyline.

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 Queenstown Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Lake Tekapo
Queenstown

Queenstown is terrific for backpackers. Also, Lake Tekapo is still popular, but not quite as popular for backpackers and budget travelers.

Queenstown is a very popular city to visit for backpackers. With its thrill-seeking activities and nearby skiing, this is a great backpacker destination year round.

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 Queenstown Better for Students?

Lake Tekapo
Queenstown

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

Many students visit Queenstown. There are excellent universities in the area as well as fun activities and a lively energy that students enjoy.

Lake Tekapo is not popular with students.


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

Lake Tekapo
Queenstown

Queenstown 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 Queenstown, but it may not be enough to take you everywhere. There's a decent bus system that travels 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 Queenstown a more walkable city?

Lake Tekapo
Queenstown

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

Queenstown is a very walkable destination. In town, many of the sights and activities can be reached 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 Queenstown Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Queenstown or Lake Tekapo?

How long in Lake Tekapo or Queenstown?

Both Lake Tekapo and Queenstown have a number of activities to choose from. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Queenstown than in Lake Tekapo. Usually, 1-2 days is a good amount of time for Lake Tekapo, and 2-7 days is enough time in Queenstown.

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

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

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


  • How many days in Lake Tekapo or Queenstown? Ideal Length of Stay
    Lake Tekapo 1-2 
    Queenstown 2-7

One day in Lake Tekapo or Queenstown?

With around the small town of Lake Tekapo, there's plenty to do. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Lake Tekapo, one day is sufficent for most.

Visitors enjoy the skiing and nightlife when visiting the adventure-filled city of Queenstown. Hikers are also drawn to this area. 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 Queenstown?

With around the destination of Lake Tekapo, there's plenty to do. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. It offers something for everyone. Many people spend a weekend here. In a weekend, you should have a good grasp of this town.

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the active destination of Queenstown. 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 Queenstown?

Lake Tekapo, a popular town, is full of activities for travelers. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Visitors enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the active city of Queenstown. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. Many people spend five days here.If you enjoy all that's offered here, then five days is just the right amount of time to spend here. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

A week in Lake Tekapo or Queenstown?

Lake Tekapo is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Visitors enjoy the shopping and skiing when visiting the destination of Queenstown. Anyone can find something fun to do here. This is a popular place to visit for one week. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. In one week, you should have a good grasp of this city.


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, Queenstown or Lake Tekapo?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Lake Tekapo is $75, while the average daily cost in Queenstown is $104. 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 Queenstown in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Lake Tekapo $59
    Queenstown $55
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Lake Tekapo $118
    Queenstown $110
Compare Hotels in Lake Tekapo and Queenstown

Looking for a hotel in Lake Tekapo or Queenstown? 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 Queenstown


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 Queenstown Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Lake Tekapo -
    Queenstown $10

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Queenstown

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Queenstown:

  • From Mount Cook Transfer w/ Guided Landmark Tour: $103
  • Private Transfer from Queenstown Central to Wanaka: $178
  • Private Transfer from Queenstown to Milford Sound Cruise Port: $165
  • Private Transfer from Wanaka to Queenstown Airport: $178
  • Private Transfer from Wanaka to Queenstown Central: $178
  • Private Transfers from Queenstown Airport to Wanaka : $178
  • Queenstown Airport: One-Way Private Transfer to Queenstown: $68
  • Milford Sound Cruise with Helicopter Transfer: $730
  • Tasman Glacier Helihike with Flight Transfers: $883

Is it cheaper to fly into Lake Tekapo or Queenstown?

Prices for flights to both Queenstown 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
    Queenstown $36

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Queenstown

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Queenstown.

  • Bar Crawl with 5 Free Shots and Pizza: $18
  • Dinner at Walter Peak High Country Farm and Cruise from Queenstown: $114

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Lake Tekapo -
    Queenstown $21

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: $29
  • Dark Sky Indoor Cultural Astronomy Experience: $31
  • Dark Sky Virtual Stargazing Experience: $41
  • 45 Minutes Virtual Stargazing Experience in Lake Tekapo: $43
  • High Country Farm Tour - Lake Tekapo: $58
  • Alpine Stargazing Experience with a Guide: $58
  • Chameleon Stargazing Shared Tour: $60
  • 中文观星团 Chinese tour: $65
  • Stargazing Experience: $65
  • Crater Experience at Cowan's Observatory: $85
  • From Tekapo: Mt Cook day tour via Pukaki, Tasman Glacier: $99
  • Summit Experience - University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory: $115

Typical Entertainment Prices in Queenstown

Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Queenstown are as follows:


  • Skyline Gondola (for 2)
    $30

Tours and Activities in Queenstown

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

  • Time Tripper Underwater Experience: $8.83
  • Skip the Line: Odyssey Sensory Maze Entry Queenstown Ticket: $19
  • Private Race Car Simulation Experience: $20
  • Fear Factory Haunted House Admission Ticket: $24
  • Escape Adventure AR Experience in Queenstown: $24
  • Minus 5 Ice Bar Experience with Drink Options: $25
  • Go Karts - Highlands Motorsport and Tourism Park: $30
  • Lake Wakatipu Scenic Cruise: $35
  • Million Dollar Cruise in Queenstown: $36
  • Scenic Queenstown Lake Cruise : $36
  • Kids Club Experience Including Childcare: $47
  • Guided Segway Tour: $52

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Lake Tekapo -
    Queenstown $8.90

Sample the Local Flavors in Queenstown

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Queenstown:

  • Ice Bar Crawl: $24
  • Queenstown & Gibbston Valley: Hop-On Hop-Off Wine Tours: $53
  • Hop on Hop off Wine Tours Bannockburn - departing Queenstown: $60
  • Afternoon brewery tour with lunch: $109
  • Afternoon Wine Tasting Tour with 3 Wineries: $109
  • Classic Wine Tour: $117
  • Queenstown Classic Wine Tour: 3 Vineyards, Caves and Cheeseboard: $120
  • Wine Tasting Tour: $129
  • Queenstown Wine Tour with Wine Dog | Adults Only: $130
  • The Ultimate Luxury Hop on Hop off Wine Tour: $139
  • Central Otago Wine Tour from Queenstown Including Lunch: $144
  • Gourmet Food and Wine Tour with Lunch and Wine Tastings: $170


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


Which is Bigger, Lake Tekapo or Queenstown?

Queenstown has a larger population, and is about 30 times larger than the population of Lake Tekapo. When comparing the sizes of Lake Tekapo and Queenstown, 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.