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

Should you visit Nelson or Picton?

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 Picton 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 natural, beautiful, and outdoorsy city. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. Other popular activities here include beaches, hiking, and shopping.

Picton

Picton is a scenic, quaint, and relaxing town. It's a very nice small town not to be missed. It's also known for food, beaches, and hiking.

Nelson and Picton: 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
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for nightlife


Is there more to do in Nelson or Picton?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Nelson than Picton, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Nelson is better known for its nightlife, beaches, hiking, and impressive beauty, while Picton is more popular for its small town charm. Nelson is well known for its stunning national parks, beautiful coastline, and outdoor adventures. Also, Nelson is famous for Abel Tasman National Park. Picton is well known for its picturesque scenery, laid back setting, and beautiful walking trails.

How is Nelson different from Picton?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Nelson
Picton

Both Nelson and Picton have notable landmarks and museums for visitors.

Nelson is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. 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.

Picton offers a variety of museums and landmarks to choose from. There are a few local museums around town that are fun to visit with the weather isn't cooperating. Edwin Fox Ship is the world's oldest merchant ship. You can also learn about the town's whaling past at the Picton Heritage and Whaling Museum.


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

Nelson
Picton

There are opportunities to sample the local cuisine at very good restaurants in both Nelson and Picton.

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.

Picton has a huge number of terrific restaurants. The town is filled with restaurants that stay true to New Zealand's culinary traditions. Mussels and salmon are common on menus, and there are many bakeries and waterfront cafes to try.

Is Nelson or Picton Better for Nightlife?

Nelson
Picton

Nelson is a good destination for its evening party scene. However, Picton is not a good town for nightlife.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in Nelson. The city attracts a good tourist crowd, and there are bars and clubs that keep things interesting late into the evening.

Those looking for nightlife will find a few places to hang out in Picton. It's a small town with a quiet and calm atmosphere.

Is Nelson or Picton Better for Beaches?

Nelson
Picton

Nelson is very popular for the beach. Also, Picton is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its beaches.

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

Picton is considered a top beach destination. There are four beaches in the area. Picton Beach is by the town center and near many restaurants and cafes. About a ten minute walk from town is Shelley Beach and if you're up for more walking, Bob's Bay is secluded and nice. If you have a car you can make it to Governer's Bay.


Is Nelson or Picton Better for Hiking?

Nelson
Picton

Nelson is very popular for the nearby hiking options. Also, Picton is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its hiking trails.

Nelson is well-known for its hiking and trekking. 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 visitors explore the nearby hiking trails while visiting Picton. There are many nice walking paths in the area and this is a great way to explore, reach beaches, and see the surrounding landscapes. If you're up for a longer trip, Queen Charlotte Track is a popular trail.

Is the Shopping Better in Nelson or Picton?

Nelson
Picton

Both Nelson and Picton are notable 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 Picton. There are a few galleries and local shops around town.

Is Nelson or Picton Better for Families?

Nelson
Picton

Nelson is very popular for its family-friendly activities. Also, Picton is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its kid-friendly activities.

With a huge array of activities for kids, Nelson is very family-friendly. 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.

Picton is a very family-friendly destination. Kids will enjoy taking a boat cruise to Motuara Island. You can see dolphins, birds, and other wildlife. There are also wildlife centers in the area, family-friendly walking trails, museums, aquariums, and kayaking opportunities.


Is Nelson or Picton Better for Couples?

Nelson
Picton

Nelson is very popular for couples. Also, Picton is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for romance.

Nelson is fantastic couple's destination with fun and romantic activities. 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.

Picton makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. There are romantic and quaint bed and breakfasts, beautiful walking paths, wildlife encounters, and many more fun activities for couples. Kayak trips, vineyard tours, and local spas make this a great couple's getaway destination.

Is Nelson or Picton Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Nelson
Picton

Nelson is very popular for backpackers. Also, Picton is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit 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.

Picton is very popular with the backpacker crowd. There are plenty of hostels in the area as well as great transportation links, making this a great spot for backpackers.

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

Nelson
Picton

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

Picton has a few public transit options. There are water taxis but no buses around 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 Picton a more walkable city?

Nelson
Picton

Nelson and Picton both are very good when exploring on foot.

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

Picton is a very walkable city. It's a quaint and compact town that's easy to explore on foot.

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

Should I spend more time in Picton or Nelson?

How long in Nelson or Picton?

You'll be able to find lots of things to do in Nelson or Picton to fill your time. Many travelers usually spend more of their time in Nelson than Picton because of the number of activities and things to do in the area. Usually, 3-5 days is a good amount of time for Nelson, and 1-2 days is enough time in Picton.

Families should spend more time in Nelson than Picton. 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 Picton. 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 Picton 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 Picton? Ideal Length of Stay
    Nelson 3-5 
    Picton 1-2

One day in Nelson or Picton?

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 shopping and museums when visiting the destination of Picton. Hikers are also drawn to this area. One day is often enough time to do most activities.

A weekend in Nelson or Picton?

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.

Picton 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 Picton?

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 Picton. 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 Picton?

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 relaxing destination of Picton. 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, Picton 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 Picton is $90. 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 Picton in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Nelson $42
    Picton $39
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Nelson $84
    Picton $78
Compare Hotels in Nelson and Picton

Looking for a hotel in Nelson or Picton? 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 Picton


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 Picton Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Nelson $30
    Picton -

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Picton

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Picton:

  • Private Transfer from Picton Cruise Port to Blenheim City Hotels: $39
  • Private Transfer from Blenheim city hotels to Picton Cruise Port: $39
  • Private Transfer from Picton Port to Blenheim Airport (BHE): $46
  • Private Transfer from Blenheim Airport (BHE) to Picton Port: $46

Is it cheaper to fly into Nelson or Picton?

Prices for flights to both Picton 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
    Picton $21

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Nelson $24
    Picton $114

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: $58
  • Cable Bay Adventure Park Skywire Experience: $67
  • SKYWIRE Experience: $69
  • Nelson to Mapua: Full-Day Cycling Self-Guided Adventure: $73
  • 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: $82
  • 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: $366
  • Kahurangi National Park and Mt Owen Helicopter Tour: $2,002

Tours and Activities in Picton

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

  • Picton Self-Guided Audio Tour: $15
  • Skip the Line: Dangerous Skies WWII Exhibition - Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre: $16
  • Hinterland Cycling Tour, Havelock: $25
  • Skip the Line:WWI & WWII Combo Exhibitions at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre: $31
  • Winery Express Tour: $41
  • Queen Charlotte Sounds Sightseeing Cruise: $43
  • Queen Charlotte Track: Cruise & Self-Guided Hike from Picton: $53
  • Kayaking Mangrove Adventure at Havelock: $56
  • Marlborough Sounds and Ship Cove Cruise from Picton: $59
  • Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary and Ship Cove Cruise from Picton: $59
  • Half-Day Cruise in Marlborough Sounds from Picton: $60
  • Cruise Ship Day - Marlborough: $62

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Nelson $13
    Picton $36

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 Picton

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

  • Self-Guided Biking Wine Tour (full day) in the Marlborough Region.: $37
  • Self-Guided Wine Tours by Bike with Steve & Jo in Marlborough : $41
  • Marlborough: Hop On Hop Off Wine, Brewery, and Wonders Tour: $55
  • Hop on Hop off Wine Tours Marlborough: $56
  • Marlborough Afternoon Wine Tour with Tastings: $72
  • Half-Day Wine Tour from Blenheim: $90
  • Half-Day Wine Tour from Picton: $90
  • Morning Guided with Afternoon Self-Guided Biking Wine Tour: $94
  • Marlborough Discovery Sampler Wine Tour - 1/2Day Blenheim: $100
  • Taste the Valley Wine Tour in Marlborough with Wine Tasting: $103
  • Half-Day Marlborough Wine Tour & Beer Tour : $109
  • Full-Day Wine Tour from Blenheim: $115


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


Which is Bigger, Nelson or Picton?

Nelson has a larger population, and is about 20 times larger than the population of Picton. When comparing the sizes of Nelson and Picton, 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.