A Travel Price Comparison for New Zealand Nelson vs. Auckland for Beaches, Hiking, Families, and Couples

Should you visit Nelson or Auckland?

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

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel comparison between Nelson and Auckland can help. It includes a travel cost comparison in addition to other factors. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.


Nelson is a beautiful, outdoorsy, and adventure-filled city. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. Visitors also love the food, beaches, and hiking.


Auckland is a adventurous, adrenaline-filled, and thrill-seeking city. It's a large city with plenty of activites for visitors as well. It's also known for nightlife, food, and beaches.

Nelson and Auckland: 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
  • Very walkable
  • Impressive beauty
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Big city activities
Things to Consider
  • Less hiking options
  • Less walkable

Is there more to do in Nelson or Auckland?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Auckland than Nelson. It is bigger and it has more sights, attractions, and activities for travelers. Auckland is very popular for its museums, nightlife, shopping, and big city activities, while Nelson attracts visitors for its beaches, hiking, and impressive beauty. Nelson is famous for its stunning national parks, beautiful coastline, and outdoor adventures. Auckland is famous for its waterfront setting, diverse beaches, and active and adrenaline-filled environment. It is also well known for the Sky Tower.

How is Nelson different from Auckland?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Nelson or Auckland?


Auckland is a well-known place for its sights and museums. Also, Nelson is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its museums and history.

You'll find a good number of museums and monuments packed into Auckland. The waterfront is filled with sights for tourists, and many of the city's attractions are geared towards thrill seekers. The Sky Tower is a popular landmark with its Sky Walk and Sky Jump. There are also many thrilling experiences that you can have along the Harbour Bridge. For museums, head to the New Zealand Maritime Museum, the Auckland Art Gallery, or the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

Nelson offers a variety of museums and landmarks to choose from. While most people spend their time enjoying the nature-oriented activities, there are several museums in the area as well. Founder's Heritage Park Museum is a village-like setting that you can explore. There's also the Nelson Classic Car Museum and local art and craft galleries that are fun to walk through.

Is the Food Better in Nelson or Auckland? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?


There are opportunities to sample the local cuisine at superb restaurants in both Nelson and Auckland.

With its innovative style combined with traditional elements, Nelson makes for a great culinary experience. Local ingredients, vineyards, and craft breweries all make the foodie scene around town interesting. There are many great restaurants that offer seasonal menus that change with the season. Eating is an experience in town, and locals take pride in the food they produce.

Auckland has a huge number of terrific restaurants. The city has a diverse selection of restaurants, but you'll also find many places that highlight local ingredients such as seafood and lamb. You'll often find the standard dishes such as fish and chips, oysters, and green-lipped mussels on the menus.

Is Nelson or Auckland Better for Nightlife?


Auckland is a well-known place for nightlife. Also, Nelson is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for nightlife and partying.

Auckland offers plenty to do in the evening. The city has a cosmopolitan atmosphere and there are many bars and clubs that you can explore in the evening. Some of the best nightlife options are found in the vibrant Britomart precinct and around the trendy Ponsonby Road. Other popular areas include Viaduct Harbour and Wynyard Quarter.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Nelson. The city attracts a good tourist crowd, and there are bars and clubs that keep things interesting late into the evening.

Is Nelson or Auckland Better for Beaches?


Nelson is a must-visit destination for the beache. Also, Auckland is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for the beach.

With world-famous beaches, Nelson is a very popular vacation destination. Beaches in the area are sandy and most are great for swimming. There are many water sports available as well such as kayaking, kite surfing, and paddleboarding. You'll find locals and tourists alike hanging out at the beach and enjoying a barbecue.

You'll have a great beach vacation in Auckland. You don't have to head too far from the city to find some impressive beaches that are diverse and beautiful. There are beaches that are secluded and private as well as more lively beaches with all of the amenities and activities that you might want.

Is Nelson or Auckland Better for Hiking?


Nelson is a must-visit destination for its hiking trails. Also, Auckland is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its hiking experiences.

Many people visit Nelson specifically for its hiking. The area is filled with walking and hiking trails that wander along the coast and soak up the spectacular views. There are also three national parks in the area that are filled with trails. Abel Tasman National Park, Kahurangi National Park, and Nelson Lakes National Park each have their own environments and scenery to explore.

Auckland has hiking trails worth exploring. Locals love to get outdoors, and you'll find many local hikes in the area. There are easy paths that are family-friendly and perfect for a stroll, as well as longer stretches that present more of a challenge.

Is the Shopping Better in Nelson or Auckland?


Auckland is a well-known place for shopping. Also, Nelson is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its shopping opportunities.

Auckland is an extremely popular place for shoppers. The city centre is cosmopolitan and full of diverse shopping venues that sell international brands as well as local designers. Some of the most popular shopping areas are Britomart, High Street, and Queen Street.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Nelson. There are weekly markets in the area and a variety of retail shops where you can pick up anything you might need.

Is Nelson or Auckland Better for Families?


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

Nelson is one of the most popular family destinations. Surrounded by family-friendly national parks, this city has a number of things for kids to do. In particularly, Abel Tasman National Park is a highlight for kids, with canoeing, sailing and other activities. Kids will also enjoy a visit to Cable Bay Adventure Park or seeing the historically themed Founders Park.

Auckland is known to be a very family-friendly place to visit. There's a big focus on getting kids outside in the city, so you'll find many outdoor parks and play spaces. Popular activities for families include visiting the Huia Lodge Discovery Centre, going to the Museum of Transport and Technology, and wandering through the botanical garden.

Is Nelson or Auckland Better for Couples?


Nelson is a must-visit destination for its romantic activities. Also, Auckland is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for couples.

For those traveling as a couple, Nelson has plenty to offer. Wilderness, national parks, beaches, and mountain scenery make this a wonderful couples destination. The area also has beautiful vineyards and gardens as well hiking and outdoor adventures.

Couples visit Auckland frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. There are many romantic restaurants in the city, as well as spas, cocktail bars, and evening venues. Couples will also enjoy one of the many thrill-seeking activities that New Zealand is famous for.

Is Nelson or Auckland Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?


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

With so many budget-friendly offerings, Nelson is extremely popular for backpackers. There are many hostels in the area as well as outdoor activities and adventure sports that backpackers will love.

Auckland is a very popular city for backpackers and budget travelers. Auckland is high on many backpackers' wish list, and usually they pass through the city at some point during their trip. You'll find a number of hostels in the city that are perfect for socializing and saving money.

Is Nelson or Auckland Better for Students?


Auckland is a well-known place for students. However, Nelson is not popular with students.

Students come from all over to stay in Auckland. Some of the country's best universities are found in the city, many of which are popular with international students.

Nelson is not popular with students.

Is Nelson or Auckland Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?


Auckland is a city with good options for its public transit. However, Nelson is not a good city for times when you don't have a car.

Auckland has a few public transit options. There's a mishmash of different public transit options, and trips often include a variety of modes of transport. In the city you'll find ferries, trains, and buses to help you get around.

Public transit is mostly limited in Nelson. The city has a local bus network, but to efficiently explore everything that the area has to offer, you'll want to have a car.

Is Nelson or Auckland a more walkable city?


Nelson is an excellent place to visit for its high level of walkability. However, Auckland is lacking in options for its ease of walking around.

Nelson is a very walkable city. There are many great walks in the area and its a wonderful way to get around.

Auckland is generally not very walkable. It is a very car-centric city and it can be challenging to explore on foot alone.

Should I spend more time in Auckland or Nelson?

How long in Nelson or Auckland?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Nelson and Auckland. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Nelson than in Auckland. Usually, 3-5 days is a good amount of time for Nelson, and 2-3 days is enough time in Auckland.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Nelson than Auckland 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 Nelson.

  • How many days in Nelson or Auckland? Ideal Length of Stay
    Nelson 3-5 
    Auckland 2-3

One day in Nelson or Auckland?

The beautiful city of Nelson 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.

Auckland is a bustling city that offers something for everyone. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

A weekend in Nelson or Auckland?

Nelson is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than a weekend exploring. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

Auckland 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 Nelson or Auckland?

Nelson is a popular choice for travelers. Five days here is typical. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Nelson, five days is sufficent for most. 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 Auckland. Most people come for the beaches. 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 Nelson or Auckland?

Nelson is a great place to explore. 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 city offers something for everyone.

Travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the adrenaline-filled big city of Auckland. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

Which place is cheaper, Auckland or Nelson?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Nelson is $95, while the average daily cost in Auckland is $141. 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 Nelson and Auckland in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Nelson $41
    Auckland $89
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Nelson $82
    Auckland $178
Compare Hotels in Nelson and Auckland

Looking for a hotel in Nelson or Auckland? 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 Nelson

Hotels in Auckland

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: Nelson Hotel Prices and Auckland Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Nelson $29
    Auckland $16

Typical Local Transportation prices in Auckland

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Auckland:

  • Bus from Airport
  • Airport Shuttle

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Auckland

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

  • Departure Transfer: Auckland Central City Centre to Auckland Airport: $23
  • Arrival Transfer: Auckland Airport to Auckland Central City Centre: $23
  • Private 1-Way Transfer to/from Airport: $28
  • Private Transfer from Auckland Cruise Port to Auckland city: $35
  • Private Transfer from Auckland City to Auckland Cruise Port: $35
  • Auckland Airport (AKL) to Downtown hotels - Arrival Private Transfer: $42
  • Private Transfer from Auckland Airport (AKL) to Auckland Port: $44
  • Private Transfer from Auckland Port to Auckland Airport (AKL): $44
  • Auckland Airport: One-Way Private Transfer to Auckland: $52
  • Try find your better than us ! Airport transfer service Auckland HTL-APT (AKL): $57
  • Try find your better than us ! Airport transfer service Auckland APT-HTL (AKL): $57
  • Auckland Airport Private Transfers in a Luxury Minibus: $60

Is it cheaper to fly into Nelson or Auckland?

Prices for flights to both Auckland and Nelson 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
    Nelson $27
    Auckland $27

Typical Food prices in Auckland

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

  • Breakfast

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Auckland

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

  • Auckland Harbour 3-Course Dinner Cruise with Welcome Drink: $93
  • Auckland Harbour Sailboat Cruise Including Three Course Dinner: $94
  • Flavours of the City Walking Food Tour: $109
  • Auckland Insider Tour: Food Tour with Local Expert: $173

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Nelson $24
    Auckland $28

Tours and Activities in Nelson

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

  • Cable Bay Adventure Park: E-bike hire: $59
  • Cruise, Walk, and Sail in Abel Tasman National Park: $117
  • Full-Day Abel Tasman National Park Hiking Tour with Cruise: $314
  • Full-Day Sailing Adventure in the Abel Tasman National Park: $155
  • Great Taste Beer Tour by Bicycle (Self-guided): $82
  • Heli-Cruise Abel Tasman - The Best of Both Worlds : $4,938
  • Heli-Scenic Abel Tasman Experience: $913
  • Heli-Scenic Nelson Mountain Adventure: $1,180
  • Nelson City Walking Tour - Guided: $30
  • Nelson to Mapua: Full-Day Cycling Self-Guided Adventure: $74
  • Abel Tasman Cruise-Fly Day Tour: $372
  • Cable Bay Adventure Park Skywire Ticket: $68

Typical Entertainment prices in Auckland

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

  • Auckland Sky Tour (for 2)
  • Waiheke Island Tour (for 2)

Tours and Activities in Auckland

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

  • Auckland Self-Guided Audio Tour: $14
  • Maritime Museum Entry Ticket: $15
  • Auckland Self Guided Audio Tour: $15
  • HÄ«koi to Britomart Guided Walking Tour - Auckland Art Gallery: $16
  • Join the locals: 2-Hour Precinct Tour of Dealer Art Galleries: $16
  • Skip the Line: Odyssey Sensory Maze Entry Auckland Ticket: $16
  • Auckland War Memorial Museum Entry Ticket: $17
  • Skip the Line: Auckland Museum General Admission Entry Ticket: $18
  • Vibrosaun Therapy Experience: $19
  • The Hunt for the Missing Monarch - An Auckland Adventure: $25
  • Auckland Sky Tower General Admission Ticket : $25
  • Sky Tower General Admission Ticket: $25

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Nelson $13
    Auckland $14

Sample the Local Flavors in Nelson

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Nelson:

  • Hop on Hop off Wine Tours Nelson: $63
  • Self-guided E-bike cycle tour with private wine tasting : $101
  • Kiwi Spirit Distillery Golden Bay - Visit New Zealand's only Tequila Farm!: $2,360

Sample the Local Flavors in Auckland

Also in Auckland, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Wild West Coast & Black Sand Beach Tour incl Craft Beer Brewery Lunch & Tasting: $94
  • Full-Day Wine Tasting Tour in Auckland with 3-Course Vineyard Lunch: $97
  • Muriwai Scenic Wine Tour from Auckland: $110
  • Waiheke Island: The Essence of Waiheke Wine Tour: $133
  • Waiheke Island: Tour with Wine Tastings and Restaurant Lunch: $140
  • Waiheke Island Gourmet Food and Wine Tour with Platter Lunch: $147
  • From Waiheke Island Wine Tasting Tour with Lunch: $158
  • From Small Group Kumeu Wine Tour with Lunch: $168
  • Kumeu Wine Tour: $173
  • Small-Group Kumeu Wine Country Tour Includes Wine Tastings & Lunch: $179
  • Piha Waitakere Rainforest Wine Tour from Auckland: $185
  • Coast to Coast Auckland Wine Tasting Day Tour: $188

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

Which is Bigger, Nelson or Auckland?

Auckland is bigger, and its population is about 7.1 times larger than the population of Nelson. When comparing the population of Nelson vs. Auckland, 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 and the activities that interest you.

Budget Your Trip is all about finding out how much everything costs so that you can travel cheaper and longer. Created by avid travelers Laurie and Bryan, our goal is to help you plan your next trip on the right budget. With average daily travel costs that are calculated from the budgets of real travelers, plus an analysis of hotel and tour prices, you can find out how much money you need to plan your next adventure. We also have plenty of travel advice, accommodation reviews, and activity suggestions.
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Nelson vs. Auckland Travel Comparison

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