A Travel Price Comparison for New Zealand Napier vs. Kaikoura for Beaches, Families, Attractions, and Food

Should you visit Napier or Kaikoura?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city is more affordable and which is best for your travel style? If you're trying to figure out where to go next, comparing the travel costs between Napier and Kaikoura can help you decide which place is right for you.


Napier is a relaxed, character-filled, and coastal town. And you can't forget about the shopping, museums, and nightlife.


Kaikoura is a biologically diverse, unique, and nature-oriented town. Other reasons to visit include hiking, shopping, and nightlife.

Napier and Kaikoura: Pros and Cons

  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights

Is there more to do in Napier or Kaikoura?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Napier. Although Napier and Kaikoura are popular destinations, Napier has more sights and attractions for tourists. Napier is famous for its many art deco buildings, its beautiful vineyards, and the area's long sandy beaches. It is also well known for the art deco architecture. Kaikoura is famous for its local Sperm Whale population, abundance of marine life, and local crayfish (lobster) recipes.

How is Napier different from Kaikoura?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Napier or Kaikoura?


Napier is a well-known place for its sights and museums. However, Kaikoura is not a good town for its museums and history.

Napier offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. Considered an "Art Deco capital", there are many interesting buildings around town and it's worth taking an Art Deco Walk. The National Aquarium of New Zealand is also impressive as is the MTG Hawke's Bay, which is a museum, gallery, and theater in one. For something a little outside the box, you can visit the Napier Prison, which is New Zealand's oldest place of incarceration, dating back to 1862.

While most people don't head to Kaikoura specifically for the museums and attractions, it does offer a few options. There aren't many museums in the area, but it's worth learning more about the region's history with a visit to Kaikoura Museum.

Is the Food Better in Napier or Kaikoura? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?


Both Napier and Kaikoura offer a number of great restaurants to choose from.

The food selection at local restaurants is excellent in Napier. With its many wineries and big mix of fine dining restaurants, there is plenty for a foodie to enjoy around town. You'll find restaurants that serve up New Zealand favorites as well as those that experiment with modern and trendy recipes.

Eating is part of the travel experience when you visit Kaikoura. Seafood lovers will be in heaven in this town! There are many local, freshly caught favorites such as cod, mussels, and crayfish (which is actually lobster). You'll find plenty of casual eateries, including an authentic American diner.

Is Napier or Kaikoura Better for Nightlife?


Napier is a well-known place for nightlife and partying. Also, Kaikoura is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its evening party scene.

Napier offers plenty to do in the evening. The nightlife scene is diverse and fun. Whether you're looking for a wild party or just want to relax with a drink and some friends, there are plenty of places where you can hang out.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Kaikoura. This is a small town so the nightlife scene is limited, but there are a few restaurants with bars around town.

Is Napier or Kaikoura Better for Beaches?


Napier is a world-class destination for the beache. Also, Kaikoura is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for the beach.

Travelers come from around the world to visit the beaches in Napier. It's a popular beach destination and you'll find plenty of beaches for swimming, sunbathing, and playing with the kids. You'll want to head out of town to find the best and most beautiful beaches. For hidden beaches and some of the area's best surf, head to Mahia Peninsula. To escape the tourists and hang out with the locals, go to Waipatiki Beach. And for a picnic, Westshore Beach is a favorite. Waimarama Beach is another favorite in the area as well.

Kaikoura is a very popular place to visit for its beaches. There are many black pebble beaches in the area, which are great for wildlife spotting, but not so good for swimming. Gooch's Beach is one of the most popular, and it's sandier than many of the other beaches. South Bay is another popular area to visit.

Is Napier or Kaikoura Better for Hiking?


You'll find great hiking in both Napier and Kaikoura.

Many visitors explore the nearby hiking trails while visiting Napier. Hawke's Bay is filled with wonderful walks and hikes. There are easy coastal paths as well as mult-day treks around Lake Waikaremoana. It's not hard to find somewhere to stretch your legs and explore the scenery.

You'll find a nice variety of hiking trails around Kaikoura. There are many coastal walks in the area that will take you through a variety of landscapes. This is also a great way to see the many diverse types of wildlife throughout the peninsula.

Is the Shopping Better in Napier or Kaikoura?


Shoppers can find a variety of nice stores in both Napier and Kaikoura.

Plenty of visitors enjoy shopping while in Napier. You'll find all of the standard New Zealand retail chains as well antique and boutique shops. With its many Art Deco buildings, the city has character and personality.

Kaikoura offers some nice shopping areas. There are local shops where you can pick up some interesting products that are unique to the area.

Is Napier or Kaikoura Better for Families?


Kaikoura is a must-visit destination for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Napier is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its family-friendly activities.

Kaikoura is one of the most popular family destinations. Kids who love animals will appreciate all of the wildlife in the area. This is one of the best places in the country to see dolphins, whales, and seals. There are world class whale watching trips as well as opportunities to swim with the dolphins and get close to the seals. There is also kayaking, a coastal train, and even sheep shearing. Minigolf is also a fun activity in the area.

Napier is a very kid-friendly town. This coastal city has a waterpark, a waterfall walk, and plenty of beaches where the family can hang out. There's also a waterfront promenade that is filled with water features and playgrounds where the kids can run around. You can also check out Hawke's Bay Farmyard Zoo or on a rainy day head to the Faraday Museum of Technology.

Is Napier or Kaikoura Better for Couples?


Both Napier and Kaikoura are great destinations to visit as a couple.

Napier makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Surrounded by vineyards and lined with beaches, this is a great place for a romantic getaway or a honeymoon. Hop on a bike and explore the wineries or enjoy a beautiful hike through nature. There are also adrenaline-filled activities for thrill seekers or fine dining restaurants for the foodies.

Couples visit Kaikoura frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. The town is all about wildlife, so if whale watching trips, dolphin spotting, and experiencing amazing local wildlife is your thing, then this is your spot! There are also beautiful coastal sights with a dramatic mountain backdrop.

Is Napier or Kaikoura Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?


Napier and Kaikoura are both great destinations for backpackers.

Napier is very popular with the backpacker crowd. There are a couple of hostels around town and plenty of fun activities like mountain biking or white water rafting that you can enjoy.

Kaikoura is a great town to visit for backpackers. There are a decent number of hostels in the area and plenty of fun activities that backpackers will enjoy.

Is Napier or Kaikoura Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?


Napier is a moderate town for its public transit. However, Kaikoura is not a good town for times when you don't have a car.

Public transit is generally limited in Napier. Public transit to most of the beaches is limited or nonexistent, so you really need a car if you want to get around and see everything.

Public transit is quite limited in Kaikoura. The town is very small and there is no real public transit in the area.

Is Napier or Kaikoura a more walkable city?


Kaikoura is very good for its walkability. However, Napier is lacking in good options for its high level of walkability.

Kaikoura is somewhat walkable. There are many coastal walks in the area, which is a great way to soak up the beauty and see the wildlife. The town itself is small and most of the accommodation is along Beach Road, so it's relatively easy to reach places on foot.

Napier is generally not very walkable. If you stay in town you can walk to cafes and restaurants, but you really need a car if you're planning to visit beaches or explore the area in depth.

For even more information, also check out Is Napier Worth Visiting? and Is Kaikoura Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Kaikoura or Napier?

How long in Napier or Kaikoura?

It's fun to spend time in either Napier or Kaikoura. Generally, people tend to spend more time in Kaikoura due to the larger number of activities and things to do. Usually, 2-3 days is a good amount of time for Napier, and 2-4 days is enough time in Kaikoura.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Napier than Kaikoura 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 Napier.

  • How many days in Napier or Kaikoura? Ideal Length of Stay
    Napier 2-3 
    Kaikoura 2-4

One day in Napier or Kaikoura?

The town of Napier offers food and shopping. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

Many travelers enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the destination of Kaikoura. 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.

A weekend in Napier or Kaikoura?

Napier 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. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Napier, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

Kaikoura is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Five days in Napier or Kaikoura?

Napier is a popular choice for travelers. It's no surprise that beaches is why people visit. 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.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Kaikoura. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

A week in Napier or Kaikoura?

Napier is a great place to explore. It's no surprise that beaches is why people visit. 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.

Travelers enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the biologically diverse destination of Kaikoura. This town 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.

Which place is cheaper, Kaikoura or Napier?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Napier is $172, while the average daily cost in Kaikoura is $139. 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 Napier and Kaikoura in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Napier $104
    Kaikoura $49
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Napier $208
    Kaikoura $98
Compare Hotels in Napier and Kaikoura

Looking for a hotel in Napier or Kaikoura? 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 Napier

Hotels in Kaikoura

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: Napier Hotel Prices and Kaikoura Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Napier $31
    Kaikoura $18

Is it cheaper to fly into Napier or Kaikoura?

Prices for flights to both Kaikoura and Napier 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 Meals for one day
    Napier $37
    Kaikoura $39
Typical Food Prices in Napier

For Napier, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:

  • Casural Lunch

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Napier $28
    Kaikoura $156

Tours and Activities in Napier

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

  • Self-Guided Earthquake Audio Tour: $14
  • Art Deco Self-Guided Audio Walking Tour: $14
  • Hastings Earthquake Self-Guided Audio Tour: $15
  • Napier Art Deco Self-Guided Audio Tour: $15
  • Napier Earthquake Self-Guided Audio Tour: $15
  • Napier Prison Self-Guided Audio Tour: $19
  • Hawkes Bay Wineries Self-Guided Bike Tour: $36
  • Hawke's Bay: Coastal Winery Cycle Tour - self-guided: $49
  • Cape Coast Wineries Self-Guided Scenic Bike Tour from Napier: $50
  • Cape Kidnappers Gannet, Nature & Sightseeing Tour: $59
  • 2.5-Hour Napier Art Deco Tour: $59
  • Small Group 2.5-Hour Napier History and Art Deco Tour : $59

Tours and Activities in Kaikoura

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

  • Llama Trek (Taster) - Kowhai River Valley and Native Woodland Tour: $74
  • 1-Hour Private Heli-Picnic Mountain top tour in Kaikoura : $243
  • 40-minute Mt Fyffe Summit Heli Tour in Kaikoura : $227
  • Kaikoura Swim with Dolphins Tour from Christchurch: $246
  • Kaikoura Whale Watch Day Tour from Christchurch: $218
  • 1-Hour Whale Watching Helicopter Tour: $641
  • Guided Family Kayaking Adventure: $92
  • Half-Day Wildlife Kayaking Tour: $92
  • Seal-Watching Pedal Kayak Tour: $73
  • Whale Watching Cruise: $101
  • Wildlife Kayaking Tour at Sunset: $92
  • Kaikōura: 45-Minute Whale Watching Helicopter Tour: $458

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Napier $17
    Kaikoura -
Typical Alcohol Prices in Napier

Some typical examples of the costs for nightlife and alcohol in Napier are as follows:

  • Wine

Sample the Local Flavors in Napier

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Napier:

  • Half Day Small-Group Hawkes Bay Wine Tour: $97
  • Wine Tour and Tastings in Hawkes Bay: $171
  • Private Sightseeing Tour + Wine Tasting: $528

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

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Napier Expensive? and Is Kaikoura Expensive?.

Which is Bigger, Napier or Kaikoura?

Napier has a larger population, and is about 80 times larger than the population of Kaikoura. When comparing the sizes of Napier and Kaikoura, 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.