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

Should you visit Nelson or Dunedin?

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 Dunedin 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

Nelson is a outdoorsy, adventure-filled, and natural city. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. Other popular activities here include beaches, hiking, and shopping.

Dunedin

Dunedin is a cultural, vibrant, and small city. It's also known for nightlife, food, and beaches.

Nelson and Dunedin: 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
  • Impressive beauty
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
Things to Consider
  • Less attractive beach
  • Less hiking options
  • Less popular with couples


Is there more to do in Nelson or Dunedin?

Visitors will generally find more to do in Nelson than Dunedin. While Dunedin is larger than Nelson, Nelson has more sights, attractions, and activities for tourists. Nelson is better known for its food, beaches, hiking, and impressive beauty, while Dunedin is more popular for its museums, nightlife, and shopping. Nelson is more touristy than Dunedin and is known for its stunning national parks, beautiful coastline, and outdoor adventures. Also, Nelson is famous for Abel Tasman National Park. Dunedin is well known for its wildlife and proximity to the Otago Peninsula.

How is Nelson different from Dunedin?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Nelson
Dunedin

Dunedin 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 Dunedin. The city has cultural scene that is centered around both Scottish and Maori heritage. Top sights around town include the Larnach Castle, the Dunedin Railway Station, Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, and the Otago 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 Dunedin? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Nelson
Dunedin

Nelson is well known for its restaurant scene. Also, Dunedin is still popular, but not quite as popular for its local flavors and cuisine.

Dining out in Nelson is an experience not to be missed. 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.

There are plenty of up and coming restaurants around Dunedin. The culinary scene in town continues to grow and improve. There are local eateries that have charm and character and serve interesting and local dishes.

Is Nelson or Dunedin Better for Nightlife?

Nelson
Dunedin

Dunedin 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.

Dunedin offers plenty to do in the evening. The town has eclectic bars and a diverse club scene that is fun to experience. It has a lively nightlife scene that is driven, in part, by the large student population.

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 Dunedin Better for Beaches?

Nelson
Dunedin

Nelson is an unbeatable place for the beach. Also, Dunedin is still popular, but not quite as popular for its beaches.

Travelers come from around the world to visit the beaches in Nelson. 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.

Many people head to Dunedin to enjoy the beach. Many of the beaches are just a short drive from the city center. The surf is surprisingly good and the beaches are fun during the warmer summer months.


Is Nelson or Dunedin Better for Hiking?

Nelson
Dunedin

Nelson is an unbeatable place for its hiking experiences. Also, Dunedin is still popular, but not quite as popular for hiking.

People visit Nelson specifically for its hiking, as the natural beauty is well-known. 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.

Many people include a hike when visiting Dunedin. There are biking and hiking trails that travel around town and through the surrounding landscapes.

Is the Shopping Better in Nelson or Dunedin?

Nelson
Dunedin

Dunedin 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.

Dunedin is an extremely popular place for shoppers. The shopping scene is diverse and eclectic with everything from vintage shops to fashion boutiques. Some of the most popular shopping areas are Edinburgh Way, Octagon Entertainment Precinct, Moray Place, and the Warehouse Precinct.

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 Dunedin Better for Families?

Nelson
Dunedin

Nelson is an unbeatable place for its family-friendly activities. Also, Dunedin is still popular, but not quite as popular for its kid-friendly activities.

As it has a large number of activities for kids, Nelson is a very family-friendly destination. 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.

Dunedin is a very family-friendly destination. It's one of the largest cities on the South Island, and there are many educational opportunities and unique experiences available to kids. You can visit the Otago Museum or the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, take a wildlife cruise, or visit the Larnach Castle. You can also take a ride on the Inlander or simply hang out at a playground.


Is Nelson or Dunedin Better for Couples?

Nelson
Dunedin

Nelson is an unbeatable place for couples. Also, Dunedin is still popular, but not quite as popular for romance.

Nelson makes for a terrific place to visit as a couple. 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.

Dunedin is a nice destination for couples. You can wander through the castle or explore one of the city's markets. There are also romantic restaurants and many opportunities to see wildlife.

Is Nelson or Dunedin Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Nelson
Dunedin

Nelson is an unbeatable place for backpackers. Also, Dunedin is still popular, but not quite as popular for backpackers and budget travelers.

Nelson is a very popular city to visit for backpackers. There are many hostels in the area as well as outdoor activities and adventure sports that backpackers will love.

Dunedin is very popular with the backpacker crowd. There are many hostels around town and plenty of activities that keep backpackers entertained.

Is Nelson or Dunedin Better for Students?

Nelson
Dunedin

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

Students come from all over to stay in Dunedin. This is a large student city that is welcoming to international students and a popular place to study.

Nelson is not popular with students.


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

Nelson
Dunedin

Dunedin 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.

Dunedin has a few public transit options. There a relatively decent bus system that travels through town.

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 Dunedin a more walkable city?

Nelson
Dunedin

Nelson and Dunedin both are excellent when exploring on foot.

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

Dunedin is a very walkable city. Parts of the town are easy to explore on foot.

For even more information, also check out Is Nelson Worth Visiting? and Is Dunedin Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Dunedin or Nelson?

How long in Nelson or Dunedin?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Nelson and Dunedin. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Nelson than in Dunedin. Usually, 3-5 days is a good amount of time for Nelson, and 1-3 days is enough time in Dunedin.

Families should spend more time in Nelson than Dunedin. 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 Dunedin. 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 Dunedin 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 Dunedin? Ideal Length of Stay
    Nelson 3-5 
    Dunedin 1-3

One day in Nelson or Dunedin?

In Nelson, you'll find nightlife and food. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. This city 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 Dunedin. One day is often enough time to do most activities.


A weekend in Nelson or Dunedin?

In Nelson, you'll find food and shopping. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.

Dunedin 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 Dunedin?

Nelson is a great place to explore. It is common to spend five days here. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. Five days is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Nelson has to offer. Anyone can find something fun to do here.

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

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Nelson. Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Nelson. 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 cultural destination of Dunedin. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.


Which place is cheaper, Dunedin or Nelson?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Nelson is $98, while the average daily cost in Dunedin is $106. 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 Dunedin in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Nelson $42
    Dunedin $54
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Nelson $84
    Dunedin $108
Compare Hotels in Nelson and Dunedin

Looking for a hotel in Nelson or Dunedin? 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 Dunedin


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 Dunedin Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Nelson $30
    Dunedin $29

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Dunedin

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Dunedin:

  • Dunedin to Dunedin Int Airport (DUD) - Departure Private Transfer: $36
  • Arrival Private Transfer in Dunedin Intl Airport to Dunedin : $36
  • Private Transfer from Dunedin Airport (DUD) to Chalmers Port: $44
  • Private Transfer from Chalmers Cruise Port to Dunedin City Hotels: $44
  • Private Transfer from Chalmers Port to Dunedin Airport (DUD): $44
  • Dunedin Int Airport(DUD) to Dunedin - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $73
  • Momona Airport: One-Way Private Transfer to Momona: $88
  • ONE WAY MOMONA: Transfer from /to Dunedin Airport: $125

Is it cheaper to fly into Nelson or Dunedin?

Prices for flights to both Dunedin 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
  • Food Meals for one day
    Nelson $28
    Dunedin $30

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Nelson $24
    Dunedin $18

Tours and Activities in Nelson

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

  • Nelson City Walking Tour - Guided: $30
  • Cable Bay Adventure Park: E-bike hire: $59
  • Cable Bay Adventure Park Skywire Experience: $68
  • SKYWIRE Experience: $69
  • Nelson to Mapua: Full-Day Cycling Self-Guided Adventure: $74
  • Self-Guided Nelson to Mapua Cycle Adventure: $74
  • Great Taste Beer Tour by Bicycle (Self-guided): $81
  • Guided Quad Biking Tour Through Forest and Farmland: $84
  • Cruise, Walk, and Sail in Abel Tasman National Park: $116
  • Full-Day Sailing Adventure in the Abel Tasman National Park: $153
  • Abel Tasman Cruise-Fly Day Tour: $371
  • Kahurangi National Park and Mt Owen Helicopter Tour: $2,033

Tours and Activities in Dunedin

Here are a few actual costs in Dunedin for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • Dunedin Self-Guided Audio Tour: $14
  • Dunedin Self-Guided Audio Tour: $14
  • Olveston Historic Home Guided Tour: $16
  • Skip the Line: Larnach Castle & Gardens Admission Ticket: $28
  • Heritage Dunedin City Walking Guided Tour: $31
  • Garden and City tour: $37
  • Monarch Wildlife Cruise: $39
  • Shore Excursion: V8 Trike, Peninsula and City Tour: $50
  • Larnach Castle & Gardens Tour from Dunedin winter : $50
  • Larnach Castle & Gardens Tour from Dunedin: $54
  • Nature and City Tour: $56
  • A 2 hour Small Group Dunedin City Highlights Tour: $59

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Nelson $13
    Dunedin $15

Sample the Local Flavors in Nelson

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Nelson:

  • Hop on Hop off Wine Tours Nelson: $62
  • Self-guided E-bike cycle tour with private wine tasting : $100

Sample the Local Flavors in Dunedin

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Dunedin:

  • Speight Brewery Small Group Guided Tour from Dunedin: $22
  • Emerson's Brewery Tour: $25
  • Emerson's Brewery Tour: $25


When comparing the travel costs between Nelson and Dunedin, we can see that Dunedin 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 Nelson Expensive? and Is Dunedin Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Nelson or Dunedin?

Dunedin has a larger population, and is about 93% larger than the population of Nelson. When comparing the sizes of Nelson and Dunedin, 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.