A Travel Price Comparison for New Zealand Paihia vs. Lake Tekapo for Families, Couples, Food, and Hiking

Should you visit Paihia or Lake Tekapo?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the activities as well as the prices of travel for Paihia and Lake Tekapo. We'll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget, schedule, and interests. So, let's dig into it.

Paihia

Paihia is a fun-filled, beautiful, and relaxing coastal town. Other popular activities here include hiking, shopping, and museums.

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo is a small, remote, and basic town. This is a charming small with plenty of activities, too. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. Visitors also love the hiking.

Paihia and Lake Tekapo: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good public transit
Pros
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for food
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less popular for shopping
  • Less popular with couples
  • Public transit not as usable


Is there more to do in Paihia or Lake Tekapo?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Paihia. Although Paihia and Lake Tekapo are both popular with visitors, Paihia has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Paihia is more popular for its museums, food, nightlife, scuba diving & snorkeling, beaches, and shopping, while Lake Tekapo is known for its small town charm and impressive beauty. Paihia is more touristy than Lake Tekapo and is popular for its warm year round climate, impressive beaches, and world class snorkeling and scuba diving. It is also home to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Lake Tekapo is popular for its hot springs, remote location, and beautiful night sky.

How is Paihia different from Lake Tekapo?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Lake Tekapo and Paihia. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Paihia or Lake Tekapo?

Paihia
Lake Tekapo

Paihia is a good destination for its museums and landmarks. However, Lake Tekapo does not have museums and landmarks.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Paihia. There are some interesting cultural sights in the area like the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and the Museum of Waitangi.

Lake Tekapo does not have museums and landmarks.


Is the Food Better in Paihia or Lake Tekapo? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Paihia
Lake Tekapo

Paihia is a great destination for its restaurant scene. However, Lake Tekapo is a town with minimal options for its local flavors and cuisine.

Dining out in Paihia is an experience not to be missed. Local seafood, regional produce, and fresh ingredients make dining in the area a rewarding experience. You'll find fine dining restaurants, pizzerias, and local cafes to choose from.

Lake Tekapo offers some easy restaurants to choose from. The town is very small with just a couple of restaurants and fast food joints.

Is Paihia or Lake Tekapo Better for Nightlife?

Paihia
Lake Tekapo

Paihia is a good destination for its evening party scene. However, Lake Tekapo is a town with minimal options for nightlife.

Paihia has an active nightlife scene for those who seek it out. As a holiday spot, there are a number of clubs and bars that cater to tourists in the area.

The nightlife scene is quiet in Lake Tekapo This is a very small town and there isn't a real nightlife scene. The night sky is incredible though, and you should absolutely do some stargazing.

Is Paihia or Lake Tekapo Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Paihia
Lake Tekapo

Paihia is a great destination for snorkeling and scuba diving. However, Lake Tekapo is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

There are many scuba diving and snorkeling spots near Paihia. There are scuba diving and snorkel shops available around town where you can organize trips and excursions to experience the undersea world.

Lake Tekapo is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.


Is Paihia or Lake Tekapo Better for Beaches?

Paihia
Lake Tekapo

Paihia is terrific for the beach. However, Lake Tekapo is not a beach destination.

Paihia offers stunning beaches that attract visitors from around the world. There are stunning beaches both in Paihia and throughout the Bay of Islands. Paihia Beach is in town. It's small but nice and makes a great picnic spot. For a more secluded spot head to Matauri Bay Beach or Takou Bay.

Lake Tekapo is not a beach destination.

Is Paihia or Lake Tekapo Better for Hiking?

Paihia
Lake Tekapo

Hiking trails can be found around both Paihia and Lake Tekapo, and they are excellent.

Many visitors explore the nearby hiking trails while visiting Paihia. The Bay of Islands is filled with coastal walks and peaceful hikes. This is a great way to soak up the area's atmosphere and take in some spectacular views.

You'll find a nice variety of hiking trails around Lake Tekapo. There are many beautiful hikes in the area with some of the most popular being the Mount John Summit Track, the Richmond Trail, and Cowan's Hill Walkway.

Is the Shopping Better in Paihia or Lake Tekapo?

Paihia
Lake Tekapo

Paihia is a good destination for its shopping areas. However, Lake Tekapo is a town with minimal options for shopping.

Many visitors go to Paihia to go shopping. There are plenty of retail stores around town where you can pick up clothes or enjoy some souvenir shopping.

Shopping in Lake Tekapo can be found for those interested. There are a couple of shops where you can pick up basic necessities.


Is Paihia or Lake Tekapo Better for Families?

Paihia
Lake Tekapo

Paihia is terrific for its family-friendly activities. Also, Lake Tekapo is still popular, but not quite as popular for its kid-friendly activities.

With a huge array of activities for kids, Paihia is very family-friendly. Beaches, dolphin spotting, ice cream, and chocolate factories make the Bay of Islands the perfect place for a family vacation. There are amazing walking trails like the Manginangina Kauri Walk and opportunities to learn about the Maori culture. There are also adventure spots and great beaches.

Lake Tekapo is a very family-friendly destination. Kids will enjoy a visit to Tekapo Springs, which is particularly fun in the winter months. There's snow tubing, ice skating, and, of course, the hot pools. There are also short hikes in the area like the Mount John Summit Walk. Biking, paddleboarding, and kayaking are also popular in the area.

Is Paihia or Lake Tekapo Better for Couples?

Paihia
Lake Tekapo

Paihia is terrific for couples. Also, Lake Tekapo is still popular, but not quite as popular for romance.

Paihia is fantastic couple's destination with fun and romantic activities. You can enjoy sunset boat cruises, sip wine with a waterfront view, or walk through pristine natural areas. For thrill seekers there are adrenaline filled activities like parasailing or scuba diving.

Lake Tekapo is a nice destination for couples. Couples will enjoy the stunning scenery, beautiful hikes, and the romantic hot springs. Stargazing is another popular activity in the area.

Is Paihia or Lake Tekapo Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Paihia
Lake Tekapo

Paihia is a great destination for backpackers. Also, Lake Tekapo is still popular, but not quite as popular for backpackers and budget travelers.

Paihia is a very popular coastal town for backpackers and budget travelers. There are a handful of hostels around town as well as many great activities for backpackers like scuba diving or parasailing.

Plenty of budget travelers visit Lake Tekapo. It's a small town with a couple of cheap places to stay that backpackers will appreciate.


Is Paihia or Lake Tekapo Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Paihia
Lake Tekapo

Paihia is a good destination for its public transit. However, Lake Tekapo is a town with minimal options for times when you don't have a car.

You'll find some public transit in Paihia, but it may not be enough to take you everywhere. There are ferries and some intercity buses through the Bay of Islands.

Public transit is quite limited in Lake Tekapo. Public transportation in the area is very limited. If you don't have a car, you'll want to arrange tours to get out and about.

Is Paihia or Lake Tekapo a more walkable city?

Paihia
Lake Tekapo

Paihia and Lake Tekapo are good when it comes to walkability.

Paihia is a somewhat walkable place. It's possible to explore parts of the town on foot.

Lake Tekapo is a somewhat walkable coastal town. The town is small enough to get around on foot, and you can hire a tour to get out into the region.

For even more information, also check out Is Paihia Worth Visiting? and Is Lake Tekapo Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Lake Tekapo or Paihia?

How long in Paihia or Lake Tekapo?

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

Families should spend more time in Paihia than Lake Tekapo. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Paihia, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Paihia than Lake Tekapo. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Paihia that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Paihia than Lake Tekapo 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 Paihia.


  • How many days in Paihia or Lake Tekapo? Ideal Length of Stay
    Paihia 3-5 
    Lake Tekapo 1-2

One day in Paihia or Lake Tekapo?

Visitors enjoy the scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping when visiting the fun-filled coastal town of Paihia. It's also a great beach destination, too. Most people visit for the beaches. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Many travelers enjoy the when visiting the destination of Lake Tekapo. Hikers are also drawn to this area. One day is often enough time to do most activities.


A weekend in Paihia or Lake Tekapo?

Visitors enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the beautiful destination of Paihia. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. This coastal town offers something for everyone. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.

Lake Tekapo 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 Paihia or Lake Tekapo?

Visitors enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting the relaxing coastal town of Paihia. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. Many people spend five days here.If you enjoy all that's offered here, then five days is just the right amount of time to spend here. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Lake Tekapo. 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 Paihia or Lake Tekapo?

Many people enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting Paihia. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Most people come for the beaches. Most people visit for the beaches. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

Travelers enjoy the when visiting the remote destination of Lake Tekapo. 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 Tours for Outdoor and Nature Lovers in New Zealand, The Best Adventure Tours to New Zealand, The Best Eco Tours in New Zealand, and The Best Thrill-Seeking Tours in New Zealand.


Which place is cheaper, Lake Tekapo or Paihia?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Paihia is $80, while the average daily cost in Lake Tekapo is $76. 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 Paihia and Lake Tekapo in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Paihia $34
    Lake Tekapo $60
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Paihia $68
    Lake Tekapo $120
Compare Hotels in Paihia and Lake Tekapo

Looking for a hotel in Paihia or Lake Tekapo? 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 Paihia


Hotels in Lake Tekapo


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: Paihia Hotel Prices and Lake Tekapo Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Paihia $12
    Lake Tekapo -

Is it cheaper to fly into Paihia or Lake Tekapo?

Prices for flights to both Lake Tekapo and Paihia 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
    Paihia $28
    Lake Tekapo $13

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Paihia $35
    Lake Tekapo -

Tours and Activities in Paihia

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

  • Bay of Islands 2-Hour Sundowner Evening Sailing Cruise: $48
  • Sundowner Evening Cruise - 2 hour evening sailing cruise with swim stop: $49
  • Bay of Islands 30-minute Adventure Jet Boat Trip: $54
  • Bay of Islands Trike Tour Experience: $54
  • Bay of Islands: Late Afternoon Sailing Cruise: $60
  • Bay of Islands Waterfall Explorer Kayaking Tour: $60
  • Bay of islands Waterfall Cruise Kayaking Tour: $60
  • Scenic Tour - Bay of Islands, 30 mins (min2): $61
  • Thriller Tour - Bay of Islands, 30 mins (min 2): $61
  • Glass Bottom Boat Tour to the Hole in the Rock: $69
  • Parasailing Adventure Over the Bay of Islands: $70
  • Hole in the Rock 1.5-Hour Fast Boat Ocean Adventure: $72

Tours and Activities in Lake Tekapo

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

  • Lake Tekapo Tour Scenic 4WD Mountains & Glaciers: $183
  • 45 Minutes Virtual Stargazing Experience in Lake Tekapo: $43
  • Arthur's Pass and Mount Cook: 2-Day Tour From Christchurch: $1,563
  • Crater Experience at Cowan's Observatory: $86
  • Dark Sky Indoor Cultural Astronomy Experience: $32
  • From Tekapo: Mt Cook day tour via Pukaki, Tasman Glacier: $102
  • High Country Farm Tour - Lake Tekapo: $60
  • Lake Tekapo Fishing Tour: $180
  • Lake Tekapo Guided 4WD Tours: $180
  • Lake Tekapo Scenic 4WD Cass Valley Wilderness Tour: $180
  • Alpine Stargazing Experience with a Guide: $60
  • Dark Sky Virtual Stargazing Experience: $41

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Paihia $22
    Lake Tekapo -

Sample the Local Flavors in Paihia

Also in Paihia, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Bay of Islands Wine Tour with Lunch: $101
  • Private Tour: Bay of Islands Tour with Wine Tasting: $291
  • Private Shore Excursion: Bay of Islands Tour with Wine Tasting: $291


When comparing the travel costs between Paihia and Lake Tekapo, we can see that Paihia 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 Paihia Expensive? and Is Lake Tekapo Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Paihia or Lake Tekapo?

Paihia has a larger population, and is about 6 times larger than the population of Lake Tekapo. When comparing the sizes of Paihia and Lake Tekapo, 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.