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

Should you visit Nelson or Napier?

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 Napier 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 beautiful, outdoorsy, and adventure-filled city. This is also a very beautiful destination which attracts plenty of visitors. Other reasons to visit include hiking, shopping, and museums.

Napier

Napier is a coastal, relaxed, and character-filled town. It's also known for nightlife, food, and beaches.

Nelson and Napier: 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
  • Very walkable
  • Impressive beauty
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
Things to Consider
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in Nelson or Napier?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Napier. Although Nelson and Napier are both popular with visitors, Napier has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Napier is more popular for its museums and nightlife, while Nelson is known for its hiking and impressive beauty. Nelson is popular for its stunning national parks, beautiful coastline, and outdoor adventures. Napier is popular for its many art deco buildings, its beautiful vineyards, and the area's long sandy beaches. It is also home to the art deco architecture.

How is Nelson different from Napier?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Nelson
Napier

Napier 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 Napier. 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.

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 Napier? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Nelson
Napier

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

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.

Napier has a huge number of terrific restaurants. 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.

Is Nelson or Napier Better for Nightlife?

Nelson
Napier

Napier 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.

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 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 Napier Better for Beaches?

Nelson
Napier

Both Nelson and Napier are considered to be amazing beach destinations.

Nelson is considered to be a world-class beach 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.

Napier offers stunning beaches that attract visitors from around the world. 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.


Is Nelson or Napier Better for Hiking?

Nelson
Napier

Nelson is a must-visit destination for its hiking trails. Also, Napier 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.

You'll find a nice variety of hiking trails around 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.

Is the Shopping Better in Nelson or Napier?

Nelson
Napier

Both Nelson and Napier are good shopping destinations.

Nelson is a great destination for shopping. There are weekly markets in the area and a variety of retail shops where you can pick up anything you might need.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting 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.

Is Nelson or Napier Better for Families?

Nelson
Napier

Nelson 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.

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.

Napier is a very kid-friendly city. 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 Nelson or Napier Better for Couples?

Nelson
Napier

Nelson 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, 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 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 Nelson or Napier Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Nelson
Napier

Nelson 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 Nelson. There are many hostels in the area as well as outdoor activities and adventure sports that backpackers will love.

Napier is a great city 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 Nelson or Napier Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Nelson
Napier

Both Nelson and Napier offer decent public transit options.

Public transit is generally 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.

Public transit is mostly 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 Nelson or Napier a more walkable city?

Nelson
Napier

Nelson is a very popular place for its walkability. However, Napier is lacking in good options for its high level of walkability.

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

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 Nelson Worth Visiting? and Is Napier Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Napier or Nelson?

How long in Nelson or Napier?

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

Families should spend more time in Nelson than Napier. 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 Napier. 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 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 Nelson.


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

One day in Nelson or Napier?

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

Many travelers enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting the destination of Napier. 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 Nelson or Napier?

Nelson is a great place to explore. With so much to do, a weekend is probably not enough time to see everything. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Napier is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. Don't miss the beaches, as that's what most people do. 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 Napier?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Nelson. For many, it makes a great getaway for five days. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. With all of its activities, you can easily fill five days here. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Napier. Don't miss the beaches, as that's what most people do. 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 Nelson or Napier?

Travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the outdoorsy destination of Nelson. This city 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.

Travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the character-filled destination of Napier. 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.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Family-Friendly Tours to New Zealand, The Best Wildlife Tours to New Zealand, The Best Hiking & Trekking Tours in New Zealand, and The Best 10-Day Tours in New Zealand.


Which place is cheaper, Napier 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 Napier is $173. 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 Napier in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Nelson $42
    Napier $105
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Nelson $84
    Napier $210
Compare Hotels in Nelson and Napier

Looking for a hotel in Nelson or Napier? 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 Napier


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 Napier Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Nelson $29
    Napier $31

Is it cheaper to fly into Nelson or Napier?

Prices for flights to both Napier 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
    Napier $38

Typical Food Prices in Napier

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


  • Casural Lunch
    $8.62

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

Tours and Activities in Nelson

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

  • Cruise, Walk, and Sail in Abel Tasman National Park: $126
  • Full-Day Sailing Adventure in the Abel Tasman National Park: $165
  • Great Taste Beer Tour by Bicycle (Self-guided): $81
  • Magical Mapua Charms in off-summer Season Selfguided Cycle Tour: $78
  • Magical Mapua Self Guided One Day Cycle Tour: $78
  • Nelson City Walking Tour - Guided: $30
  • Nelson to Mapua: Full-Day Cycling Self-Guided Adventure: $73
  • Abel Tasman Cruise-Fly Day Tour: $367
  • Cable Bay Adventure Park Skywire Experience: $67
  • Guided Quad Biking Tour Through Forest and Farmland: $83
  • The Ultimate Lord of the Rings Combo Tour: $3,308
  • SKYWIRE Experience: $69

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 Earthquake Self-Guided Audio Tour: $15
  • Napier Art Deco Self-Guided Audio Tour: $15
  • Hawkes Bay Wineries Self-Guided Bike Tour: $37
  • National Aquarium of New Zealand in Napier Native Icons Tour: $38
  • Hawke's Bay: Self Guided Coastal Winery Cycle Tour: $49
  • Cape Coast Wineries Self-Guided Scenic Bike Tour from Napier: $50
  • Small Group - Napier History and Art Deco Tour - 2.5 hours: $56
  • Small group - Napier Art Deco Tour - 2.5 hours: $56
  • Cape Kidnappers Gannet, Nature & Sightseeing Tour: $59

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Nelson $13
    Napier $17

Sample the Local Flavors in Nelson

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Nelson:

  • Self-guided E-bike cycle tour with private wine tasting : $100

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:

  • 3 hours City and Wine Tour in New Zealand: $69
  • Half Day Small-Group Hawkes Bay Wine Tour: $97
  • Wine Tour and Tastings in Hawkes Bay: $172


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Nelson and Napier, we can see that Napier 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 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 Nelson.

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


Which is Bigger, Nelson or Napier?

Nelson has a larger population, and is about 4% larger than the population of Napier. When comparing the sizes of Nelson and Napier, 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.