A Travel Price Comparison for New Zealand Napier vs. Rotorua for Families, Couples, Backpackers, and Attractions

Should you visit Napier or Rotorua?

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 Rotorua can help you decide which place is right for you.

Napier

Napier is a character-filled, coastal, and relaxed town. It's also popular because of the museums, nightlife, and food.

Rotorua

Rotorua is a cultural, natural, and world-renowned town. This is also a very beautiful destination which attracts plenty of visitors. Other reasons to visit include shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Napier and Rotorua: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • 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
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty


Is there more to do in Napier or Rotorua?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Napier than Rotorua, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Napier is better known for its nightlife and beaches, while Rotorua is more popular for its impressive beauty. Napier is well known for its many art deco buildings, its beautiful vineyards, and the area's long sandy beaches. Also, Napier is famous for the art deco architecture. Rotorua is well known for its geothermal activity, Maori cultural influence, and its role in the famous Lord of the Rings movies.

How is Napier different from Rotorua?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Rotorua 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 Rotorua?

Napier
Rotorua

Spend time exploring the superb sights and museums in either Napier or Rotorua.

Many visitors head to Napier specifically to visit some of its top-rated museums and other sights. 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.

With a variety of museums, monuments, and historical sights, a trip to Rotorua can be an interesting and educational experience. The area is filled with opportunities to learn about the Maori culture. The Maori village of Whakarewarewa is a highlight and you should also visit Te Wairoa. Fans of Lord of the Rings won't want to miss Hobbiton either. Finally, Rotorua Museum well worth a visit.


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

Napier
Rotorua

Both Napier and Rotorua offer a number of superb 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 Rotorua. There's a wide selection of culinary options in the area that include steambox (food prepared with the geothermal heat), and hāngī, which is a traditional Maori cooking technique. Many restaurants also make use of the local fruit, vegetables, and meats.

Is Napier or Rotorua Better for Nightlife?

Napier
Rotorua

Napier is an excellent place to visit for its evening party scene. Also, Rotorua is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for nightlife.

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

Rotorua has an active nightlife scene for those who seek it out. You'll find the best concentration of bars and restaurants around Tutankei Street, which is often referred to as "Eat Street".

Is Napier or Rotorua Better for Beaches?

Napier
Rotorua

Napier is an amazing town to visit for the beach. However, Rotorua is not a beach destination.

Napier is considered to be a world-class beach destination. 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.

Rotorua is not a beach destination.


Is Napier or Rotorua Better for Hiking?

Napier
Rotorua

You'll find superb hiking in both Napier and Rotorua.

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 Rotorua. The area is filled with beautiful walking trails that take you by lakes, volcanoes, and geothermal hot springs. A favorite route in the area is Tarawera Trail, which is 15 kilometers long and ends at a natural hot water beach.

Is the Shopping Better in Napier or Rotorua?

Napier
Rotorua

Shoppers can find a variety of notable stores in both Napier and Rotorua.

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.

Rotorua offers some nice shopping areas. You'll find stores and galleries selling art and crafts around the main town center.

Is Napier or Rotorua Better for Families?

Napier
Rotorua

Rotorua 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.

Rotorua is one of the most popular family destinations. The geothermal activity is fascinating for kids and adults alike. There are also many activities that will teach kids about the Maori culture and for animal lovers, there are farms and wildlife tours. Lord of the Rings fans won't want to miss Hobbiton, and there are many thrilling activities in the area such as white water rafting.

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 Rotorua Better for Couples?

Napier
Rotorua

Rotorua is a must-visit destination for romance. Also, Napier is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its romantic activities.

For those traveling as a couple, Rotorua has plenty to offer. The unique environment and beautiful natural setting make this a wonderful honeymoon destination. Couples will appreciate the geothermal activity, beautiful walking trails, and diverse outdoor activities. There's also horseback riding, hot springs, and helicopter rides.

Couples visit Napier frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. 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.

Is Napier or Rotorua Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Napier
Rotorua

Rotorua is a must-visit destination for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Napier is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for backpackers.

Many backpackers frequent Rotorua. Well established on the backpacker trail, there are plenty of hostels in the area and tons of activities that backpackers will enjoy.

Napier is a great town to visit for backpackers. There are a couple of hostels around town and plenty of fun activities like mountain biking or white water rafting that you can enjoy.

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

Napier
Rotorua

Rotorua is very good for times when you don't have a car. However, Napier is lacking in good options for its public transit.

Rotorua has some public transit options. There are buses and shuttles that travel around town and through the area.

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.


Is Napier or Rotorua a more walkable city?

Napier
Rotorua

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

Rotorua is somewhat walkable. The town itself is fairly walkable but if you want to get into the surrounding areas, having a vehicle provides the most flexibility.

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 Rotorua Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Rotorua or Napier?

How long in Napier or Rotorua?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Napier and Rotorua. In our opinion, Rotorua has more to see and do, so we recommend spending more time in Rotorua than Napier. However, 2-3 days is a good amount of time to spend in either destination.

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

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

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


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

One day in Napier or Rotorua?

In Napier, you'll find nightlife and food. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. One reason most visitors come is for the beaches. This town offers something for everyone. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

Many travelers enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting the destination of Rotorua. 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 Rotorua?

In Napier, you'll find food and shopping. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. A weekend here is typical. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. One reason most visitors come is for the beaches. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Napier has to offer.

Rotorua 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 Rotorua?

Napier is a great place to explore. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. Anyone can find something fun to do here.

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

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Napier. Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Napier. One reason most visitors come is for the beaches. People usually spend lots of time at the beach. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.

Travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the natural destination of Rotorua. 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, Rotorua or Napier?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Napier is $174, while the average daily cost in Rotorua is $95. 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 Rotorua in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Napier $105
    Rotorua $50
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Napier $210
    Rotorua $100
Compare Hotels in Napier and Rotorua

Looking for a hotel in Napier or Rotorua? 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 Rotorua


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 Rotorua Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Napier $31
    Rotorua $5.22

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Rotorua

Also for Rotorua, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Rotorua to Auckland Afternoon Transfer with Waitomo Glow Worms: $189

Is it cheaper to fly into Napier or Rotorua?

Prices for flights to both Rotorua 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
  • Food Meals for one day
    Napier $38
    Rotorua $28
Typical Food Prices in Napier

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


  • Casural Lunch
    $8.67

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Rotorua

For Rotorua, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Mitai Maori Village: Cultural Experience and Dinner Buffet: $96
  • Lake Rotoiti Evening Kayak Tour including Hot Springs, Glowworm Caves and BBQ Dinner: $120
  • Te Pa Tu Māori Cultural Experience with Dinner: $161

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Napier $28
    Rotorua $36

Tours and Activities in Napier

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

  • 2.5-Hour Napier Art Deco Tour: $60
  • Beer, Wine, Cider and Gin Tour in New Zealand: $124
  • Best of Napier & Hawkes Bay Tour: $79
  • Cape Coast Wineries Self-Guided Scenic Bike Tour from Napier: $51
  • Cape Winery Cycle Tour - 6 wineries, self-guided: $73
  • Country Experience at Mohaka River Farm: $126
  • Deco City Black Cab Tours and Shuttles: $111
  • Half Day Sights and Tastes Tour in Napier : $101
  • Hastings Earthquake Self-Guided Audio Tour: $15
  • Hawke's Bay: Coastal Winery Cycle Tour - self-guided: $50
  • Hawkes Bay Wineries Electric Self-Guided Bike Tour: $62
  • Hawkes Bay Wineries Self-Guided Bike Tour: $37

Typical Entertainment Prices in Rotorua

Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for Rotorua's activities, tours, and tickets:


  • Lunch Out for Two
    $28

Tours and Activities in Rotorua

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

  • 4x4 Self Drive Yamaha Experience : $98
  • Agrodome Farm Experience including Farm Show and Farm Tour - Rotorua: $38
  • Cultural Experience & Seasonal Māori Cuisine at Te Pā Tū : $165
  • Explore The Lakes Tour: $75
  • From Auckland to Hobbiton and Rotorua Day Tour with Lunch: $346
  • From Hobbiton Movie Set Tour with Festive Lunch: $161
  • From Wai O Tapu & Waimangu Eco Thermal Morning Tour: $112
  • From Wai-O-Tapu, Waimangu and Te Puia Full-Day Tour: $201
  • Geothermal Mineral Baths Experience: Pavilion Pools for 12+: $25
  • Hells Gate Mud Bath and Sulphur Spa Experience: $53
  • Hobbiton Day Tour from Rotorua with lunch at Hobbiton: $164
  • Kahukiwi Experiences Luxury 4WD 3hour Guided Maori Tour: $118

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Napier $17
    Rotorua $12
Typical Alcohol Prices in Napier

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


  • Wine
    $12

Sample the Local Flavors in Napier

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Napier:

  • Half Day Small-Group Hawkes Bay Wine Tour: $98
  • Wine Tour and Tastings in Hawkes Bay: $174
  • Private Sightseeing Tour + Wine Tasting: $536

Typical Alcohol Prices in Rotorua

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for alcohol and nightlife costs in Rotorua:


  • Bottle of Wine
    $12


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Napier and Rotorua, we can see that Napier is more expensive. And not only is Rotorua much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Rotorua would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Rotorua 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 Rotorua.

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


Which is Bigger, Napier or Rotorua?

Rotorua has a larger population, and is about 16% larger than the population of Napier. When comparing the sizes of Napier and Rotorua, 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.