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

Should you visit Nelson or Rotorua?

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 Rotorua 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.

Where Should I go: Nelson or Rotorua?


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.


Located on the banks of Lake Rotorua, Rotorua is famous as the thermal wonderland of New Zealand. The area has a variety of geothermal sights, but it is also close to several lakes and has more traditional activities as well, including fishing, boating and white water rafting.

Rotorua is located in the Taupo Volcanic Zone, which is the largest volcano in the area. There are four major volcanic calderas that now have lakes, and several other volcanoes in the area. Rotorua sits on top of a thermal hot spring, and there are many vents and hot pools throughout the area. Many of the hot pools and sights are located within parks, with some of the best being Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Rainbow Springs Nature Park, and Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland.

Rotorua has a warm, temperate climate. Because of the area's inland location, it has less wind than many places in New Zealand. Temperatures during the winter months can fall to below freezing, but snow is incredibly rare.

Which place is cheaper, Rotorua or Nelson?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Nelson is $94, while the average daily cost in Rotorua is $91. 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 Rotorua in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Nelson $40
    Rotorua $48
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Nelson $80
    Rotorua $96
Compare Hotels in Nelson and Rotorua

Looking for a hotel in Nelson or Rotorua? 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 Rotorua

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 Rotorua Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Nelson $28
    Rotorua $4.97

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Rotorua

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

  • Rotorua to Auckland Afternoon Transfer with Waitomo Glow Worms: $172
  • From Auckland: Transfer to Rotorua with Waitomo Caves Tour: $179

Is it cheaper to fly into Nelson or Rotorua?

Prices for flights to both Rotorua 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
    Rotorua $26

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Rotorua

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

  • Mitai Maori Village: Cultural Experience and Dinner Buffet: $93
  • Lake Rotoiti Evening Kayak Tour including Hot Springs, Glowworm Caves and BBQ Dinner: $115
  • Te Pa Tu Maori Cultural Experience with Dinner: $150

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Nelson $23
    Rotorua $34

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: $57
  • Cruise, Walk, and Sail in Abel Tasman National Park: $113
  • Dragon Hunt Archery Experience in Pristine Native Forest: $107
  • Full-Day Abel Tasman National Park Hiking Tour with Cruise: $292
  • Full-Day Sailing Adventure in the Abel Tasman National Park: $150
  • Great Taste Beer Tour by Bicycle: $67
  • Heli-Cruise Abel Tasman - The Best of Both Worlds : $4,774
  • Heli-Scenic Abel Tasman Experience: $882
  • Heli-Scenic Nelson Mountain Adventure: $1,141
  • Nelson City Walking Tour - Guided: $29
  • Nelson to Mapua: Full-Day Cycling Self-Guided Adventure: $71
  • Abel Tasman Cruise-Fly Day Tour: $359

Typical Entertainment prices in Rotorua

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

  • Lunch Out for Two

Tours and Activities in Rotorua

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

  • Whaka Geothermal Trails Self-Guided Tour: $18
  • Jade Carving Experience at a local studio: $21
  • Mountain Jade Highlights Tour: $21
  • Geothermal Mineral Baths Experience: Pavilion Pools for 12+: $24
  • Whakarewarewa Village Guided Tour: $24
  • The Quest for the Lost Companion - A Rotorua Adventure: $24
  • Whakarewarewa Village Guided Tour: $24
  • Waimangu Volcanic Valley Entry Ticket: $28
  • Agrodome Farm Tour with Show and Produce Tasting: $29
  • The National Kiwi Hatchery Tour: $30
  • Agrodome Farm Experience including Farm Show and Farm Tour - Rotorua: $31
  • National Kiwi Hatchery - Kiwi Encounter Tour: $31

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Nelson $13
    Rotorua $12

Sample the Local Flavors in Nelson

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Nelson:

  • Hop on Hop off Wine Tours Nelson: $61
  • Self-guided E-bike cycle tour with private wine tasting : $97
  • Kiwi Spirit Distillery Golden Bay - Visit New Zealand's only Tequila Farm!: $2,282

Typical Alcohol prices in Rotorua

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for alcohol and nightlife costs in Rotorua:

  • Bottle of Wine

When comparing the travel costs between Nelson and Rotorua, 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.

Which is Bigger, Nelson or Rotorua?

Rotorua is bigger, and its population is about 11% larger than the population of Nelson. When comparing the population of Nelson vs. Rotorua, 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. Rotorua Travel Comparison

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