A Travel Price Comparison for New Zealand Milford Sound vs. Aoraki Mount Cook for Hiking, Couples, Families, and Backpackers

Should you visit Milford Sound or Aoraki Mount Cook?

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 Milford Sound and Aoraki Mount Cook. 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.

Milford Sound

Milford Sound is a iconic, breathtaking, and world renowned fiord. Many visitors also come because of it's amazing beauty. It's also popular because of the skiing and hiking.

Aoraki Mount Cook

Aoraki Mount Cook is a world renowned, scenic, and dramatic mountain. It's considered by many to be an absolutely beautiful destination, too. It's also popular because of the hiking.

Milford Sound and Aoraki Mount Cook: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Pros
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty


Is there more to do in Milford Sound or Aoraki Mount Cook?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Milford Sound. Although Milford Sound and Aoraki Mount Cook are popular destinations, Milford Sound has more sights and attractions for tourists. Milford Sound is very popular for its skiing, while Aoraki Mount Cook attracts visitors for its food. Aoraki Mount Cook is more touristy than Milford Sound and is known for its glaciers, alpine setting, and being the highest mountain in New Zealand. Milford Sound is famous for its iconic hiking trails, stunning boat tours, and dramatic mountains. It is also well known for Mitre Peak.

How is Milford Sound different from Aoraki Mount Cook?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Aoraki Mount Cook and Milford Sound. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Is Milford Sound or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Skiing?

Milford Sound
Aoraki Mount Cook

Milford Sound is great for skiing. However, Aoraki Mount Cook is not a skiing destination.

Milford Sound draws a large crowd in the winter for its impressive snow skiing opportunities. Many locals head to the snow-capped peaks to enjoy skiing, but if you're unfamiliar with the area, a ski tour is your best option.

Aoraki Mount Cook is not a skiing destination.


Is the Food Better in Milford Sound or Aoraki Mount Cook? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Milford Sound
Aoraki Mount Cook

Aoraki Mount Cook is a decent place to visit for its restaurants. However, Milford Sound is lacking in options for its restaurant scene.

Aoraki Mount Cook may not make the list for most foodies, but you'll find what you need while you're in town. There are a few cafes and restaurants in the village, but if you're doing any hiking you should pack your own food.

While Milford Sound is not famous for its food, you'll find what you need there. You'll find a restaurant or two in the small town of Milford Sound. Your best option is the Milford Sound Lodge. In the park you'll want to come prepared with your own food. Many organized tours include a picnic lunch.

Is Milford Sound or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Hiking?

Milford Sound
Aoraki Mount Cook

Hiking trails can be found around both Milford Sound and Aoraki Mount Cook, and they are terrific.

Milford Sound is well-known for its hiking and trekking. The Milford Track has long been considered one of the world's best hikes. It's also, arguably, the most famous hike in New Zealand. The 53 kilometer trek takes you from Lake Te Anau through stunning scenery, alpine settings, and across spectacular suspension bridges.

People visit Aoraki Mount Cook specifically for its hiking, as the natural beauty is well-known. There are beginner trails as well as world class routes that bring out expert climbers. As the highest peak in New Zealand, many people come here for the challenge, but if you're looking for a most simple experience, the hiking opportunities are still abundant.

Is Milford Sound or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Families?

Milford Sound
Aoraki Mount Cook

Milford Sound is great for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Aoraki Mount Cook is not as popular, but is still a nice mountain for its family-friendly activities.

You'll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in Milford Sound. The outdoor wonders will impress the kids as much as the adults. There are shorter walks that are family-friendly and the boat rides are also fun for the whole family. You can take a scenic flight or visit the stunning Mirror Lakes. This really is a playground for both kids and adults.

Aoraki Mount Cook is a family-friendly place to visit. There are plenty of short walks that are perfect for little legs. Kids will also enjoy the boat rides on the lakes and the area's superb stargazing.


Is Milford Sound or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Couples?

Milford Sound
Aoraki Mount Cook

Aoraki Mount Cook is an amazing mountain to visit for couples. Also, Milford Sound is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for romance.

Aoraki Mount Cook is fantastic couple's destination with fun and romantic activities. Couples will enjoy the stunning glaciers, beautiful walks, and iconic views. Many couples take helicopter rides to fully experience the area. Stargazing and hiking is also high on the list of must-do romantic activities.

Couples visit Milford Sound frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. This is one of the most stunning natural areas in the world, and the romance comes from the spectacular beauty, world class hikes, and breathtaking surroundings that will leave you awed and inspired.

Is Milford Sound or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Milford Sound
Aoraki Mount Cook

Milford Sound and Aoraki Mount Cook are both nice destinations for backpackers.

Plenty of backpackers visit Milford Sound. The area's remoteness and high price tag make it a bit challenging for backpackers and budget travelers. If you have plenty of time and enough money, it is truly a not to be missed destination.

Plenty of budget travelers visit Aoraki Mount Cook. While many activities in the area are expensive, the hiking is world class and there are a few hostels and camping opportunities nearby.

Is Milford Sound or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Milford Sound
Aoraki Mount Cook

Milford Sound is adequate for times when you don't have a car. However, Aoraki Mount Cook is not a good destination for its public transit.

Public transit is mostly limited in Milford Sound. There are buses in the area, but private vehicles or organized tours are your best option for getting around.

Public transit is limited or non-existant in Aoraki Mount Cook. Having a car is essential unless you take a private tour that provides transportation.


Is Milford Sound or Aoraki Mount Cook a more walkable city?

Milford Sound
Aoraki Mount Cook

Aoraki Mount Cook is a decent place to visit for its ease of walking around. However, Milford Sound is lacking in options for its walkability.

Aoraki Mount Cook is generally not a very walkable mountain. While there are many trails through the region, you really must have a car to access the trail heads and efficiently get around.

Milford Sound is not a walkable fiord. This is one of the most remote places in New Zealand so you really must have a car or organized transportation to get around.

For even more information, also check out Is Milford Sound Worth Visiting? and Is Aoraki Mount Cook Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Aoraki Mount Cook or Milford Sound?

How long in Milford Sound or Aoraki Mount Cook?

It's fun to spend time in either Milford Sound or Aoraki Mount Cook. Generally, people tend to spend more time in Milford Sound due to the larger number of activities and things to do. Usually, 2-6 days is a good amount of time for Milford Sound, and 2-4 days is enough time in Aoraki Mount Cook.

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

Couples should spend more time in Aoraki Mount Cook than Milford Sound. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Aoraki Mount Cook that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.


  • How many days in Milford Sound or Aoraki Mount Cook? Ideal Length of Stay
    Milford Sound 2-6 
    Aoraki Mount Cook 2-4

One day in Milford Sound or Aoraki Mount Cook?

With skiing around the destination of Milford Sound, there's plenty to do. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it. It offers something for everyone.

Many travelers enjoy the when visiting the world renowned destination of Aoraki Mount Cook. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. Don't miss the hiking, as that's what most people do. Your budget might influence how long you stay. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it.

A weekend in Milford Sound or Aoraki Mount Cook?

With skiing around the iconic fiord of Milford Sound, there's plenty to do. Your budget might influence how long you stay. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Aoraki Mount Cook. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. Don't miss the hiking, as that's what most people do. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do. For many, it makes a great getaway for a weekend. A weekend is usually enough time to experience most activities.


Five days in Milford Sound or Aoraki Mount Cook?

With skiing around the iconic destination of Milford Sound, there's plenty to do. Hikers are also drawn to this area. If you have five days, this fiord makes for a great vacation. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do. With all of its activities, you can easily fill five days here.

Travelers enjoy the when visiting the world renowned destination of Aoraki Mount Cook. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. This mountain offers a variety of activities to choose from. 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.

A week in Milford Sound or Aoraki Mount Cook?

Milford Sound is a popular choice for travelers. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. One of the main draws to the area is the hiking. This fiord offers a variety of activities to choose from. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.

You'll find around the beautiful mountain of Aoraki Mount Cook. 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. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Romantic Tours for Couples in New Zealand, The Best Luxury Tours to New Zealand, The Best Budget Tours to New Zealand, and The Best Tours for Seniors to New Zealand.


Which place is cheaper, Aoraki Mount Cook or Milford Sound?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Milford Sound is $118, while the average daily cost in Aoraki Mount Cook 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 Milford Sound and Aoraki Mount Cook in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Milford Sound $68
    Aoraki Mount Cook $60
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Milford Sound $136
    Aoraki Mount Cook $120
Compare Hotels in Milford Sound and Aoraki Mount Cook

Looking for a hotel in Milford Sound or Aoraki Mount Cook? 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 Milford Sound


Hotels in Aoraki Mount Cook


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.


Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Milford Sound $14
    Aoraki Mount Cook $27

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Aoraki Mount Cook

Also for Aoraki Mount Cook, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Transfer from Dunedin City Hotels to Chalmers Cruise Port: $44

Is it cheaper to fly into Milford Sound or Aoraki Mount Cook?

Prices for flights to both Aoraki Mount Cook and Milford Sound 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
    Milford Sound $34
    Aoraki Mount Cook $27

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Milford Sound $39
    Aoraki Mount Cook $23

Tours and Activities in Aoraki Mount Cook

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Aoraki Mount Cook.

  • 45-Minute Mount Cook Ski Plane and Helicopter Combo Tour: $299
  • Day Tours from Mount Cook: $156
  • Fox Glacier Nature Tour: $56
  • From Queenstown: Mount Cook Private Day Tour: $1,227
  • Gold Hunting Adventures: $231
  • Lake Matheson Nature Tour: $56
  • Mount Cook to Queenstown Day Tour: $153
  • Mt Cook & Hooker Valley Hike Small Group Tour from Queenstown: $156
  • Mt Cook Small Group Tour from Queenstown with Optional Activities : $156
  • Mt Cook Tour: Finish at Queenstown, Christchurch or Dunedin: $797
  • Mt Cook to Christchurch 1 Way Small Group Tour, via Lake Tekapo : $124
  • Mt. Cook to Queenstown Small Group Tour (1-way) : $109

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Milford Sound $13
    Aoraki Mount Cook $21

Sample the Local Flavors in Aoraki Mount Cook

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Aoraki Mount Cook:

  • Kinross Winery: Classic Central Otago Wine Tasting Experience: $16
  • Kinross Winery: Premium Central Otago Wine Tasting Experience: $47


When comparing the travel costs between Milford Sound and Aoraki Mount Cook, we can see that Milford Sound 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 Milford Sound Expensive? and Is Aoraki Mount Cook Expensive?.