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

Should you visit Lake Tekapo or Tauranga?

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 Tauranga. 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.

Tauranga

Tauranga is a nature-filled, coastal, and laid back town. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. Other popular activities here include beaches, hiking, and shopping.

Lake Tekapo and Tauranga: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less popular for shopping
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • 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 public transit
  • Impressive beauty


Is there more to do in Lake Tekapo or Tauranga?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Tauranga. Although Lake Tekapo and Tauranga are popular destinations, Tauranga has more sights and attractions for tourists. Tauranga is very popular for its museums, food, nightlife, beaches, and shopping, while Lake Tekapo attracts visitors for its small town charm. Tauranga is more touristy than Lake Tekapo and is known for its sandy beaches and beautiful walking trails. It is also well known for Mount Maunganui. Lake Tekapo is famous for its hot springs, remote location, and beautiful night sky.

How is Lake Tekapo different from Tauranga?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Lake Tekapo
Tauranga

Tauranga 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 Tauranga. There are a number of historic buildings in town like the Elms Mission Station which dates back to 1847.

Lake Tekapo does not have museums and landmarks.


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

Lake Tekapo
Tauranga

Tauranga 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 Tauranga area. You'll find a great mix of restaurants in the town's downtown area. There are international flavors as well as seafood and other local favorites.

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 Tauranga Better for Nightlife?

Lake Tekapo
Tauranga

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

Tauranga has an active nightlife scene for those who seek it out. The city is known for its laid back bar scene. There are venues with casual live music as well as pubs where locals and tourists intermingle.

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 Tauranga Better for Beaches?

Lake Tekapo
Tauranga

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

Many people visit Tauranga for it's beautiful beaches. Families and travelers head here for the sandy beaches and water activities. Surfing, kayaking, and fishing are all popular in the area. Some of the most popular beaches include Mount Maunganui Beach, Waihī Beach, and Anzac Bay.

Lake Tekapo is not a beach destination.


Is Lake Tekapo or Tauranga Better for Hiking?

Lake Tekapo
Tauranga

Hiking trails can be found around both Lake Tekapo and Tauranga, 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 Tauranga for the hiking trails. The Bay of Plenty is filled with hiking trails that run along the coast or head inland through the mountains. There are forest and bush walks that range in length and skill level and there really is something for everyone.

Is the Shopping Better in Lake Tekapo or Tauranga?

Lake Tekapo
Tauranga

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

Many visitors go to Tauranga to go shopping. You'll find all of the standard shopping malls, retail outlets, and clothing boutiques 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 Tauranga Better for Families?

Lake Tekapo
Tauranga

Tauranga 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, Tauranga is very family-friendly. Check out the ropes courses at Adrenalin Forest or play in the water at Waimarino Adventure Park. There are also many different walking areas like McLaren Falls Park and Kaiate Falls. Kids will love hanging out at the beach around Mount Maunganui or Papamoa Beach. This is an affordable and kid-family destination for locals and international tourists alike.

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 Tauranga Better for Couples?

Lake Tekapo
Tauranga

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

Couples visit Tauranga frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. It's a romantic destination with great beaches and beautiful waterfalls. You can enjoy a picnic in the park or dine at one of the local restaurants. Kayaking is also a popular activity in the area.

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 Tauranga Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Lake Tekapo
Tauranga

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

Tauranga is a very popular town to visit for backpackers. This is one of the more affordable destinations in New Zealand. There are also a number of backpacker-friendly jobs that make it a great place to base yourself.

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

Lake Tekapo
Tauranga

Tauranga 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 Tauranga, but it may not be enough to take you everywhere. There are buses, trains, and ferries in the area.

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 Tauranga a more walkable city?

Lake Tekapo
Tauranga

Lake Tekapo and Tauranga both are nice 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.

Tauranga is somewhat walkable. There are many walking and cycling paths in the area, but you really need a car to explore the area in depth.

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

Should I spend more time in Tauranga or Lake Tekapo?

How long in Lake Tekapo or Tauranga?

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

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

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

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


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

One day in Lake Tekapo or Tauranga?

The beautiful town of Lake Tekapo offers . Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. With all of its activities, you can easily fill one day here. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the nature-filled town of Tauranga. 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 Tauranga?

Lake Tekapo is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have a weekend, this town makes for a great vacation. 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, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

Visitors enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the coastal destination of Tauranga. 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 Tauranga?

Lake Tekapo is a popular choice for travelers. Five days 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. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

The nature-filled town of Tauranga 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 Tauranga?

Lake Tekapo is a great place to explore. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. This town offers something for everyone.

Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Tauranga. 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, Tauranga 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 Tauranga is $107. 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 Tauranga in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Lake Tekapo $61
    Tauranga $77
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Lake Tekapo $122
    Tauranga $154
Compare Hotels in Lake Tekapo and Tauranga

Looking for a hotel in Lake Tekapo or Tauranga? 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 Tauranga


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 Tauranga Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Lake Tekapo -
    Tauranga $7.02

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Tauranga

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Tauranga:

  • Roundtrip Transfer from Port of Tauranga Omanu Golf Club: $76

Is it cheaper to fly into Lake Tekapo or Tauranga?

Prices for flights to both Tauranga 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
    Tauranga $22

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Lake Tekapo -
    Tauranga $11

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: $32
  • Dark Sky Virtual Stargazing Experience: $42
  • 45 Minutes Virtual Stargazing Experience in Lake Tekapo: $45
  • High Country Farm Tour - Lake Tekapo: $61
  • Alpine Stargazing Experience with a Guide: $61
  • Chameleon Stargazing Shared Tour: $62
  • Stargazing Experience: $68
  • Crater Experience at Cowan's Observatory: $88
  • Summit Experience - University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory: $120
  • Mt Cook Day Tour From Tekapo (Small Group, Carbon Neutral): $156
  • Lake Tekapo Scenic 4WD Cass Valley Wilderness Tour: $184

Tours and Activities in Tauranga

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

  • Tauranga Self-Guided Audio Tour: $14
  • Mount Maunganui Harbour Sightseeing Cruise: $25
  • Tauranga Harbour Scenic One Hour Historical Boat Cruise : $25
  • Waimarino Adventure Park Supreme Pass Entry Ticket: $30
  • Waimarino Adventure Park: $31
  • 2hr Tauranga City Scenic History Tour: $35
  • 2-Hour Tauranga & Mount Maunganui City & Scenic Local Tour: $49
  • 4hr Shore Excursion - History and Tasting Tour FREE Kiwifruit Tasting: $59
  • 4hr Tauranga Scenic History and Tasting Tour FREE Kiwifruit Tasting: $59
  • Tauranga Shore Excursion: Small-Group Bay of Plenty and Tauranga Tour: $61
  • Tauranga Shore Excursion: Omanawa Falls & Great Sights Tour: $75
  • Evening Big Kanu Glowworm Tour: $86

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Lake Tekapo -
    Tauranga $11


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


Which is Bigger, Lake Tekapo or Tauranga?

Tauranga has a larger population, and is about 330 times larger than the population of Lake Tekapo. When comparing the sizes of Lake Tekapo and Tauranga, 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.