A Travel Price Comparison for New Zealand Milford Sound vs. Arrowtown for Hiking, Skiing, Families, and Couples

Should you visit Milford Sound or Arrowtown?

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 Arrowtown. 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 world renowned, remote, and iconic fiord. It's considered by many to be an absolutely beautiful destination, too. Other reasons to visit include skiing and hiking.

Arrowtown

Arrowtown is a charming, quaint, and quirky town. With amazing attractions and sights, it's also a fun small town not to be missed. As this is a very quaint destination, you'll find it has a special atmosphere. It's also popular because of the museums, skiing, and nightlife.

Milford Sound and Arrowtown: 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
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for food
  • Less walkable
Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Scenic old town
  • Good for hiking
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Very walkable
  • Small town charm


Is there more to do in Milford Sound or Arrowtown?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Arrowtown than Milford Sound, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Arrowtown is better known for its museums, food, nightlife, historical sights, shopping, small town charm, and quaint atmosphere, while Milford Sound is more popular for its impressive beauty. Arrowtown is more touristy than Milford Sound and is known for its gold rush history, impressive ski slopes, and famous hikes. Also, Arrowtown is famous for the Chinese Settlement. Milford Sound is well known for its iconic hiking trails, stunning boat tours, and dramatic mountains.

How is Milford Sound different from Arrowtown?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Milford Sound or Arrowtown Better for Skiing?

Milford Sound
Arrowtown

Milford Sound and Arrowtown are high quality places to visit for winter sports such as skiing.

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.

Arrowtown is an extremely popular place for snow skiing and other winter sports. In the area you'll find amazing skiing that ranges from professional level to family-friendly.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Milford Sound or Arrowtown?

Milford Sound
Arrowtown

Arrowtown is a good destination for its museums and history. However, Milford Sound 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 Arrowtown. The town feels likes a living museum with its historic sights. There's also the Lakes District Museum in town that you can visit.

Milford Sound does not have museums and landmarks.

Is the Food Better in Milford Sound or Arrowtown? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Milford Sound
Arrowtown

Arrowtown is an excellent place to visit for its restaurants. However, Milford Sound is lacking in options for its restaurant scene.

Arrowtown has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. For such a small town, there's a surprising number of great restaurants with award winning chefs. You'll find quaint cafes, traditional eateries, and casual restaurants where you can sample the local dishes.

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 Arrowtown Better for Nightlife?

Milford Sound
Arrowtown

Arrowtown is a good destination for its evening party scene. However, Milford Sound is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Arrowtown. For such a small town, there's a surprisingly bustling nightlife scene with casual pubs and waterfront bars.

Milford Sound is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.


Is Milford Sound or Arrowtown Better for its Old Town?

Milford Sound
Arrowtown

Arrowtown is an excellent place to visit for its historic old town charm. However, Milford Sound does not have a historic old town.

There are many historical things to see in the old town of Arrowtown. This is a quirky and charming historic mining town that has many cottages and historic buildings. Many places have been restored to maintain their original character.

Milford Sound does not have a historic old town.

Is Milford Sound or Arrowtown Better for Hiking?

Milford Sound
Arrowtown

Hiking trails can be found around both Milford Sound and Arrowtown, and they are first-rate.

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 Arrowtown specifically for its hiking, as the natural beauty is well-known. Many people use this town as a jumping off point for some of the world's most iconic hikes. You can explore Lord of the Rings country or do one of fifteen different listed walks in the area.

Is the Shopping Better in Milford Sound or Arrowtown?

Milford Sound
Arrowtown

Arrowtown is an excellent place to visit for its shopping areas. However, Milford Sound is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Many visitors explore the shopping areas in Arrowtown. Shopping is an experience in town. Head to Buckingham Street, which is the main street in town. You can wander through a wild west setting with local vendors and quirky galleries.

Milford Sound is not a noteworthy shopping destination.


Is Milford Sound or Arrowtown Better for Families?

Milford Sound
Arrowtown

Both Milford Sound and Arrowtown are high quality family-friendly destinations.

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.

Arrowtown is a very family-friendly place to visit. Kids will enjoy the old world charm as much as adults. There's gold panning, bike trails, and even a historic Chinese village. During the winter there are snow sports and during the summer there are outdoor activities that take advantage of the nice weather.

Is Milford Sound or Arrowtown Better for Couples?

Milford Sound
Arrowtown

Milford Sound and Arrowtown both high quality destinations for a couple.

Milford Sound makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. 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.

Couples visit Arrowtown frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. The charming atmosphere and beautiful walks make this a great weekend destination for couples. You can take a stroll on the Arrow River Walkway or grab a meal at a quaint cafe followed by ice cream at a classic ice cream parlor.

Is Milford Sound or Arrowtown Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Milford Sound
Arrowtown

Arrowtown is an excellent place to visit for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Milford Sound is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for backpackers.

Plenty of budget travelers and backpackers visit Arrowtown. There are a couple of hostels in town and backpackers love the frequent festivals and activities that the town hosts.

Plenty of budget travelers 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.


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

Milford Sound
Arrowtown

Arrowtown is a good destination for times when you don't have a car. However, Milford Sound is lacking in options for its public transit.

Arrowtown has some public transit options. There are public buses throughout the region.

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

Is Milford Sound or Arrowtown a more walkable city?

Milford Sound
Arrowtown

Arrowtown is a good destination for its ease of walking around. However, Milford Sound is lacking in options for its walkability.

Arrowtown is a somewhat walkable town. Parts of the town are fun to explore on foot.

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 Arrowtown Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Arrowtown or Milford Sound?

How long in Milford Sound or Arrowtown?

You'll be able to find lots of things to do in Milford Sound or Arrowtown to fill your time. Many travelers usually spend more of their time in Milford Sound than Arrowtown because of the number of activities and things to do in the area. Usually, 2-6 days is a good amount of time for Milford Sound, and 1-2 days is enough time in Arrowtown.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Arrowtown than Milford Sound 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 Arrowtown.


  • How many days in Milford Sound or Arrowtown? Ideal Length of Stay
    Milford Sound 2-6 
    Arrowtown 1-2

One day in Milford Sound or Arrowtown?

You'll find skiing around the fiord of Milford Sound. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Even though Arrowtown is a small town, it has plenty of activities to choose from. Exploring the old town is a popular activity. Don't miss the hiking, as that's what most people do. Your budget might influence how long you stay. If you enjoy all that's offered here, then one day is just the right amount of time to spend here.


A weekend in Milford Sound or Arrowtown?

You'll find skiing around the breathtaking destination of Milford Sound. Hikers are also drawn to this area. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend.A weekend should give you a good understanding of everything this fiord has to offer. This fiord offers a variety of activities to choose from.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Arrowtown. 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 Arrowtown?

You'll find skiing around the iconic fiord of Milford Sound. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. If you have five days, this fiord makes for a great vacation. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. Most people head to the area for the hiking. Five days should give you a good understanding of everything this fiord has to offer.

Arrowtown is a small town, so it's a great destination if you're short on time. Most visitors spend time around the old town while in the area. This town 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 Arrowtown?

Milford Sound is a popular choice for travelers. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. One week 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. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

Arrowtown is a small town, so you can explore the area with less time. Visiting the old town is also a must. 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, Arrowtown 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 Arrowtown is $116. 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 Arrowtown in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Milford Sound $68
    Arrowtown $68
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Milford Sound $136
    Arrowtown $136
Compare Hotels in Milford Sound and Arrowtown

Looking for a hotel in Milford Sound or Arrowtown? 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 Arrowtown


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: Arrowtown Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Milford Sound $14
    Arrowtown $27

Is it cheaper to fly into Milford Sound or Arrowtown?

Prices for flights to both Arrowtown 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
    Arrowtown $30

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Milford Sound $39
    Arrowtown $15

Tours and Activities in Arrowtown

For Arrowtown, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Queenstown: Arrowtown Mountain Biking Adventure: $58

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Milford Sound $13
    Arrowtown $13

Sample the Local Flavors in Arrowtown

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Arrowtown:

  • From Scenic Valley of the Vines Bike & Wine Tour: $92


When comparing the travel costs between Milford Sound and Arrowtown, 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 Arrowtown Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Milford Sound or Arrowtown?

Arrowtown has a larger population, and is about 5 times larger than the population of Milford Sound. When comparing the sizes of Milford Sound and Arrowtown, 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.

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