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

Should you visit Milford Sound 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 Milford Sound 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.

Milford Sound

Milford Sound is a breathtaking, world renowned, and remote fiord. You'll find world class beauty here as well. It's also known for skiing and hiking.

Queenstown

Queenstown is a active, adventure-filled, and outdoorsy city. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. It's also popular because of the nightlife, food, and hiking.

Milford Sound and Queenstown: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for food
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Less walkable
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
  • Very walkable
  • Impressive beauty


Is there more to do in Milford Sound or Queenstown?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Queenstown than Milford Sound, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Queenstown is better known for its skiing, museums, food, nightlife, and shopping, while Milford Sound is more popular for its impressive beauty. Queenstown is more touristy than Milford Sound and is popular for its world class skiing, adrenaline-filled adventure sports, and stunning mountain scenery. Also, Queenstown is famous for Kawarau Bridge. Milford Sound is well known for its iconic hiking trails, stunning boat tours, and dramatic mountains.

How is Milford Sound different from Queenstown?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Milford Sound or Queenstown Better for Skiing?

Milford Sound
Queenstown

Queenstown is an amazing city to visit for skiing and snowboarding. Also, Milford Sound is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for winter skiing.

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.

Milford Sound is an extremely popular place for snow skiing and other winter sports. 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.


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

Milford Sound
Queenstown

Queenstown is a decent place to visit for its museums and history. However, Milford Sound does not have museums and landmarks.

While most people don't head to Queenstown specifically for the museums and attractions, it does offer a few options. 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.

Milford Sound does not have museums and landmarks.

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

Milford Sound
Queenstown

Queenstown is an amazing city to visit for its restaurants. However, Milford Sound is lacking in options for its restaurant scene.

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.

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 Queenstown Better for Nightlife?

Milford Sound
Queenstown

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

Queenstown has a lively atmosphere and nightlife is popular here. 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.

Milford Sound is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.


Is Milford Sound or Queenstown Better for Hiking?

Milford Sound
Queenstown

Hiking trails can be found around both Milford Sound and Queenstown, 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 Queenstown specifically for its hiking, as the natural beauty is well-known. 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.

Is the Shopping Better in Milford Sound or Queenstown?

Milford Sound
Queenstown

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

Milford Sound is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Is Milford Sound or Queenstown Better for Families?

Milford Sound
Queenstown

Both Milford Sound and Queenstown 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.

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

Milford Sound
Queenstown

Queenstown is an amazing city to visit for couples. Also, Milford Sound is not quite as popular, but is fairly good 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.

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 Queenstown Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Milford Sound
Queenstown

Queenstown is an amazing city to visit for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Milford Sound is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for backpackers.

A large number of backpackers visit Queenstown, as it is a very popular city for budget travelers. With its thrill-seeking activities and nearby skiing, this is a great backpacker destination year round.

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 Queenstown Better for Students?

Milford Sound
Queenstown

Queenstown is an excellent place to visit for its student-friendly activities. However, Milford Sound 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.

Milford Sound is not popular with students.


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

Milford Sound
Queenstown

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

Queenstown has some public transit options. There's a decent bus system that travels 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 Queenstown a more walkable city?

Milford Sound
Queenstown

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

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

Should I spend more time in Queenstown or Milford Sound?

How long in Milford Sound or Queenstown?

Both Milford Sound 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 Milford Sound. Usually, 2-6 days is a good amount of time for Milford Sound, and 2-7 days is enough time in Queenstown.

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


  • How many days in Milford Sound or Queenstown? Ideal Length of Stay
    Milford Sound 2-6 
    Queenstown 2-7

One day in Milford Sound or Queenstown?

With skiing around the breathtaking fiord of Milford Sound, there's plenty to do. Anyone can find something fun to do here. One of the main draws to the area is the hiking. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

Many travelers enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the spirited destination of Queenstown. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. 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 Queenstown?

With skiing around the destination of Milford Sound, 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. One of the main draws to the area is the hiking. In a weekend, you should have a good grasp of this fiord.

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

Milford Sound, a popular fiord, is full of activities for travelers. This is a popular place to visit for five days. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. In five days, you should have a good grasp of this fiord. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Many travelers enjoy the skiing and nightlife when visiting the nature-oriented destination of Queenstown. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. If you have five days, this is a great place to go. Five days is usually enough time to experience most activities.

A week in Milford Sound or Queenstown?

Milford Sound is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. One of the main draws to the area is the hiking. 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.

Many travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the beautiful city of Queenstown. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. Plenty of people spend one week in the area when traveling.So, one week is just the right amount of time to spend here. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best 10-Day Tours in New Zealand, The Best One Week (7-Day) Tours in New Zealand, The Best 2-Week Tours in New Zealand, and The Best Bicycle Tours in New Zealand.


Which place is cheaper, Queenstown 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 Queenstown is $105. 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 Queenstown in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Milford Sound $68
    Queenstown $56
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Milford Sound $136
    Queenstown $112
Compare Hotels in Milford Sound and Queenstown

Looking for a hotel in Milford Sound 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 Milford Sound


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: Queenstown Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Milford Sound $14
    Queenstown $10

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Queenstown

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Queenstown:

  • Tasman Glacier Helihike with Flight Transfers: $920
  • Milford Sound Cruise with Helicopter Transfer: $761
  • Queenstown Airport: One-Way Private Transfer to Queenstown: $30
  • Private Transfer from Wanaka to Queenstown Central: $183
  • Private Transfer from Wanaka to Queenstown Airport: $183
  • Private Transfer from Queenstown to Milford Sound Cruise Port: $169
  • Private Transfer from Queenstown Central to Wanaka: $183
  • From Mount Cook Transfer w/ Guided Landmark Tour: $107

Is it cheaper to fly into Milford Sound or Queenstown?

Prices for flights to both Queenstown 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
    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: $118

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Milford Sound $39
    Queenstown $22

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:

  • 5-Hour Wine and Food Sampler Tour from Queenstown: $140
  • All About Paradise Glenorchy Tour: $119
  • Arrowtown and Wanaka Highlights Tour from Queenstown: $130
  • Boutique Winery Half-Day Tour & Vineyard Platter-Style Lunch: $147
  • Dart River Canoe and Jet Boat Experience from Queenstown: $274
  • Dart River Jet Boat and Wilderness Experience: $191
  • Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise from Queenstown: $267
  • E-Bike Rental for Lake Dunstan Trail Experience : $115
  • Earnslaw Burn Explorer Helicopter Tour: $607
  • Earnslaw Burn Express Helicopter Tour: $515
  • Earnslaw Burn Picnic Helicopter Tour: $577
  • Escape Adventure AR Experience in Queenstown: $24

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Milford Sound $13
    Queenstown $9.00

Sample the Local Flavors in Queenstown

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Queenstown:

  • Ice Bar Crawl: $25
  • Queenstown & Gibbston Valley: Hop-On Hop-Off Wine Tours: $55
  • Hop on Hop off Wine Tours Bannockburn - departing Queenstown: $62
  • Queenstown Classic Wine Tour: 3 Vineyards, Caves and Cheeseboard: $111
  • Afternoon brewery tour with lunch: $113
  • Afternoon Wine Tasting Tour with 3 Wineries: $113
  • Classic Wine Tour: $122
  • Queenstown Wine Tour with Wine Dog | Adults Only: $134
  • Central Otago Wine Tour from Queenstown Including Lunch: $134
  • Wine Tasting Tour: $134
  • Afternoon Boutique Wine Tour: $136
  • The Ultimate Luxury Hop on Hop off Wine Tour: $143


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


Which is Bigger, Milford Sound or Queenstown?

Queenstown has a larger population, and is about 20 times larger than the population of Milford Sound. When comparing the sizes of Milford Sound 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.