A Travel Price Comparison for New Zealand Nelson vs. Kaikoura for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Nelson or Kaikoura?

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel cost comparison between Nelson and Kaikoura can help. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.

Nelson

Nelson is a city that sits on Tasman Bay on the South Island of New Zealand. Travelers, especially ones that are heading to explore Abel Tasman National Park, frequently visit this town. Nelson has a population of about 46,000 people and, geographically speaking, it is the center of New Zealand as a whole.

Kaikoura

Kaikoura is a town on the east coast of the South Island, situated between Christchurch and Belnheim. It has a permanent resident population of 1,971. The Seaward Kaikoura Mountains that surround this town collide with the Pacific Ocean, and the continental shelf edge is just offshore. The ocean in Kaikoura is very rich in marine life, especially seals and whales.

Which city is cheaper, Kaikoura or Nelson?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Nelson is $86, while the average daily cost in Kaikoura is $124. 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 city. Below is a breakdown of travel costs for Nelson and Kaikoura in more detail.



Accommodation

The average price for accommodation for two people in Nelson is $74. This is for two people sharing a typical double occupancy hotel room.

If you're traveling alone, you may be able to find a budget hotel or hostel for around $44. But for two people in a standard two-person hotel room in Kaikoura the cost is $88 on average.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Nelson $37
    Kaikoura $44
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Nelson $74
    Kaikoura $88

Food

The price of a meal in Nelson can vary widely. However, the average price for food per day is $25 per person, and a typical meal will cost around $10 based on the spending of previous visitors. Less expensive dining options can be found by eating street food or at fast food restaurants.

The average traveler spends about $35 per day in Kaikoura for food, but obviously this is dependent on the type of restaurant and the amount of food ordered. To save money you can grab a lighter lunch or dinner, or you can try fast food or street food.


  • Food Meals for one day
    Nelson $25
    Kaikoura $35

Local Transportation

The cost of a taxi ride in Nelson is significantly more than public transportation. On average, past travelers have spent $26 per person, per day, on local transportation in Nelson.

The average price of local transportation around Kaikoura is $16 per person, per day. As this average includes both taxis and public transport, keep in mind that the prices of private drivers and taxis are significantly more expensive than public transportation.


  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Nelson $26
    Kaikoura $16

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Nelson

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Nelson:

  • Departure Transfer: Nelson City Centre Hotels to Nelson Airport: $43
  • Arrival Transfer: Nelson Airport to Nelson City Centre Hotels: $43

Is it cheaper to fly into Nelson or Kaikoura?

Prices for flights to both Kaikoura 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.





Entertainment

Entertainment and activities in Nelson typically cost an average of $22 per person, per day. This includes fees paid for admission tickets to museums and attractions, day tours, and other sightseeing expenses.

Kaikoura's costs for entertainment, tickets, attractions, and tours will often cost around $139 per person, per day. This cost can vary widely by the type of activity, however, as this includes admission tickets, day tours, museums, and other things to do.


  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Nelson $22
    Kaikoura $139

Tours and Activities in Nelson

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

  • Nelson City Walking Tour - Guided: $36
  • Nelson to Mapua: Full-Day Cycling Self-Guided Adventure: $67
  • Skywire Experience: $72
  • Self-Guided Nelson to Mapua Cycle Adventure: $75
  • SKYWIRE Experience: $78
  • Tunnel to Town - Day Adventure Option B Nelson City: $100
  • Dragon Hunt Archery Experience in Pristine Native Forest: $115
  • Tunnel to Town - Day Adventure - Option A Via Mapua: $125
  • Abel Tasman and Golden Bay Tour: $149
  • Fly Golden Bay & Cruise Abel Tasman Day Tour from Nelson: $341
  • Full-Day Abel Tasman National Park Hiking Tour with Cruise: $354

Tours and Activities in Kaikoura

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

  • Kayaking Adventure in Kaikoura: $70
  • Half-Day Wildlife Kayaking Tour: $85
  • Sunset Kayaking Tour: $89
  • Guided Family Kayaking Adventure: $89
  • Wildlife Sea Kayaking Tour - Kaikoura: $89
  • Seal Swimming Tour from Kaikoura: $89
  • Private Wildlife Kayaking Tour - Kaikoura: $178
  • 30-Minute Whale Watching Helicopter Tour: $269

Alcohol

The average person spends about $12 on alcoholic beverages in Nelson per day. The more you spend on alcohol, the more fun you might be having despite your higher budget.


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Nelson $12
    Kaikoura -

Sample the Local Flavors in Nelson

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Nelson:

  • Half Day Wine Tour: $114


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Nelson and Kaikoura, we can see that Kaikoura 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 Kaikoura would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Kaikoura than you might in Nelson.

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Nelson vs. Kaikoura Travel Comparison

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