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

Should you visit Milford Sound 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 Milford Sound 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.

Milford Sound

Milford Sound is a breathtaking, world renowned, and remote fiord. You'll find world class beauty here as well. Other popular activities here include skiing and hiking.

Picton

Picton is a quaint, relaxing, and picturesque town. This is a charming small with plenty of activities, too. It's also popular because of the beaches, hiking, and shopping.

Milford Sound and Picton: 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 museums and historical sights
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Very walkable


Is there more to do in Milford Sound or Picton?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Picton. Although Milford Sound and Picton are popular destinations, Picton has more sights and attractions for tourists. Picton is very popular for its museums, food, nightlife, beaches, shopping, and small town charm, while Milford Sound attracts visitors for its skiing, hiking, and impressive beauty. Picton is more touristy than Milford Sound and is popular for its picturesque scenery, laid back setting, and beautiful walking trails. It is also well known for the Queen Charlotte Track. Milford Sound is famous for its iconic hiking trails, stunning boat tours, and dramatic mountains.

How is Milford Sound different from Picton?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Milford Sound or Picton Better for Skiing?

Milford Sound
Picton

Milford Sound is a well-known place for snow skiing. However, Picton is not a skiing destination.

Milford Sound is a well-known ski destination which attracts visitors from far and wide. 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.

Picton is not a skiing destination.


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

Milford Sound
Picton

Picton 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 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.

Milford Sound does not have museums and landmarks.

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

Milford Sound
Picton

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

Picton has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. 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.

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 Picton Better for Nightlife?

Milford Sound
Picton

Picton is a decent place to visit for its evening party scene. However, Milford Sound is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.

Those looking for nightlife will find a few places to hang out in Picton. It's a small town with a quiet and calm atmosphere.

Milford Sound is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.


Is Milford Sound or Picton Better for Beaches?

Milford Sound
Picton

Picton is an excellent place to visit for the beach. However, Milford Sound 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.

Milford Sound is not a beach destination.

Is Milford Sound or Picton Better for Hiking?

Milford Sound
Picton

Milford Sound is very popular for the nearby hiking options. Also, Picton is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its hiking trails.

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.

Many visitors explore the nearby hiking trails while visiting Picton. 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 Milford Sound or Picton?

Milford Sound
Picton

Picton is a good destination for its shopping areas. However, Milford Sound is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Picton has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. There are a few galleries and local shops around town.

Milford Sound is not a noteworthy shopping destination.


Is Milford Sound or Picton Better for Families?

Milford Sound
Picton

Both Milford Sound and Picton are excellent 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.

Picton is a very family-friendly place to visit. 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 Milford Sound or Picton Better for Couples?

Milford Sound
Picton

Milford Sound and Picton both excellent 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 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.

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

Milford Sound
Picton

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

Milford Sound
Picton

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

Picton has some public transit options. There are water taxis but no buses around town.

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 Picton a more walkable city?

Milford Sound
Picton

Picton is an excellent place to visit for its ease of walking around. However, Milford Sound is lacking in options for its walkability.

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

Should I spend more time in Picton or Milford Sound?

How long in Milford Sound or Picton?

You'll be able to find lots of things to do in Milford Sound or Picton to fill your time. Many travelers usually spend more of their time in Milford Sound than Picton 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 Picton.

Families should spend more time in Picton than Milford Sound. 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 Milford Sound. 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 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 Picton.


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

One day in Milford Sound or Picton?

Many travelers enjoy the skiing when visiting the destination of Milford Sound. Hikers are also drawn to this area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

Many travelers enjoy the museums and food when visiting the picturesque destination of Picton. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. 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 Picton?

Milford Sound is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. Don't miss the hiking, as that's what most people do. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Picton. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. 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 Picton?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Milford Sound. Don't miss the hiking, as that's what most people do. For many, it makes a great getaway for five days. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. With all of its activities, you can easily fill five days here. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the quaint destination of Picton. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting 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 Picton?

Travelers enjoy the skiing when visiting the remote destination of Milford Sound. This fiord 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.

You'll find museums and food around the town of Picton. People usually spend lots of time at the beach. 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, Picton or Milford Sound?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Milford Sound is $117, while the average daily cost in Picton is $87. 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 Picton in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Milford Sound $67
    Picton $37
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Milford Sound $134
    Picton $74
Compare Hotels in Milford Sound and Picton

Looking for a hotel in Milford Sound 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 Milford Sound


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: Picton Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Milford Sound $14
    Picton -

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Picton

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Picton:

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

Is it cheaper to fly into Milford Sound or Picton?

Prices for flights to both Picton 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
    Picton $20

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Milford Sound $38
    Picton $109

Tours and Activities in Picton

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

  • 1-Day Cruise in Queen Charlotte Track & Kupes Trail Walk: $118
  • 2 hour Dolphin Viewing Eco-Tour from Picton: $90
  • 3.5 Hour Marlborough Sounds Delivery Cruise: $67
  • Bays and Bush Scenic Tour: $96
  • Bird Watching and Dolphin Eco-Tour from Picton: $90
  • CRUISE SHIP DAY Hop on Hop off Yealands & Marlborough tour: $121
  • Captain Cook and Dolphin Cruise: $90
  • Cruise Excursion - Wines of Marlborough Tour: $103
  • Cruise Ship Day - Marlborough: $60
  • Cruise and Lunch at Furneaux Lodge: $82
  • Day Cruise & Lunch at Punga Cove Resort: $82
  • Early Bird Eco Cruise: $73

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Milford Sound $13
    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.: $36
  • Self-Guided Wine Tours by Bike with Steve & Jo in Marlborough : $39
  • Marlborough: Hop On Hop Off Wine, Brewery, and Wonders Tour: $53
  • Hop on Hop off Wine Tours Marlborough: $54
  • Marlborough Afternoon Wine Tour with Tastings: $69
  • Half-Day Wine Tour from Blenheim: $87
  • Half-Day Wine Tour from Picton: $88
  • Morning Guided with Afternoon Self-Guided Biking Wine Tour: $90
  • Discover Marlborough Wine - Afternoon Marlborough Wine Tour : $91
  • Marlborough Discovery Sampler Wine Tour - 1/2Day Blenheim: $96
  • Taste the Valley Wine Tour in Marlborough with Wine Tasting: $99
  • Half-Day Marlborough Wine Tour & Beer Tour : $108


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Milford Sound and Picton, we can see that Milford Sound is more expensive. And not only is Picton much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Picton would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Picton 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 Milford Sound would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Milford Sound than you might in Picton.

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 Picton Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Milford Sound or Picton?

Picton has a larger population, and is about 7 times larger than the population of Milford Sound. When comparing the sizes of Milford Sound 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.