A Travel Price Comparison for New Zealand Queenstown vs. Aoraki Mount Cook for Food, Hiking, Couples, and Backpackers

Should you visit Queenstown or Aoraki Mount Cook?

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 Queenstown and Aoraki Mount Cook. 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.

Queenstown

Queenstown is a active, adventure-filled, and outdoorsy city. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. It's also popular because of the nightlife, food, and hiking.

Aoraki Mount Cook

Aoraki Mount Cook is a breathtaking, world renowned, and scenic mountain. You'll find world class beauty here as well. It's also known for hiking.

Queenstown and Aoraki Mount Cook: Pros and Cons

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


Is there more to do in Queenstown or Aoraki Mount Cook?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Queenstown than Aoraki Mount Cook, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Queenstown is better known for its skiing, museums, food, nightlife, and shopping, while Aoraki Mount Cook is more popular for its impressive beauty. Queenstown is well known for its world class skiing, adrenaline-filled adventure sports, and stunning mountain scenery. Also, Queenstown is famous for Kawarau Bridge. Aoraki Mount Cook is well known for its glaciers, alpine setting, and being the highest mountain in New Zealand.

How is Queenstown different from Aoraki Mount Cook?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Aoraki Mount Cook and Queenstown. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Is Queenstown or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Skiing?

Queenstown
Aoraki Mount Cook

Queenstown is an unbeatable place for skiing. However, Aoraki Mount Cook is not a skiing destination.

Queenstown is a top destination for snow skiing, and it attracts visitors from around the world. There are four ski areas that are near the city, and many consider these among the best ski fields in New Zealand. The ski season runs from June until October and the skiing is world class.

Aoraki Mount Cook is not a skiing destination.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Queenstown or Aoraki Mount Cook?

Queenstown
Aoraki Mount Cook

Queenstown is adequate for its historical sights. However, Aoraki Mount Cook does not have museums and landmarks.

While most people don't head to Queenstown specifically for the museums and attractions, it does offer a few options. People head to this city for its amazing outdoor activities, but you won't find much if you're looking for museums. You can check out the Lakes District Museum though.

Aoraki Mount Cook does not have museums and landmarks.

Is the Food Better in Queenstown or Aoraki Mount Cook? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Queenstown
Aoraki Mount Cook

Queenstown is an unbeatable place for its local flavors and cuisine. However, Aoraki Mount Cook is not a good destination for its local cuisine and restaurants.

Eat your way through Queenstown, as it has many local or world renowned restaurants to choose from. Located in the heart of the Otago wine region, this city has many award-winning restaurants. Local dishes, vegan cafes, and international flavors all make for a cosmopolitan and world class dining scene.

Aoraki Mount Cook offers some easy restaurants to choose from. There are a few cafes and restaurants in the village, but if you're doing any hiking you should pack your own food.

Is Queenstown or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Nightlife?

Queenstown
Aoraki Mount Cook

Queenstown is great for its evening party scene. However, Aoraki Mount Cook is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.

Many people head to Queenstown for the nightlife scene. This cosmopolitan town has some of the best nightlife in the country. There are laid back pubs, trendy cocktail bars, and live music venues that make for a fun night out.

Aoraki Mount Cook is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.


Is Queenstown or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Hiking?

Queenstown
Aoraki Mount Cook

Hiking trails can be found around both Queenstown and Aoraki Mount Cook, and they are terrific.

Queenstown is well-known for its hiking and trekking. The city is ideally located near some of the country's best hiking. There are walks through beech forests, along rugged mountains, and to stunning views. Several of the Great Walks are in the area as well, but if you're looking for something a little simpler, then there are many options also.

People visit Aoraki Mount Cook specifically for its hiking, as the natural beauty is well-known. There are beginner trails as well as world class routes that bring out expert climbers. As the highest peak in New Zealand, many people come here for the challenge, but if you're looking for a most simple experience, the hiking opportunities are still abundant.

Is the Shopping Better in Queenstown or Aoraki Mount Cook?

Queenstown
Aoraki Mount Cook

Queenstown is great for its shopping areas. However, Aoraki Mount Cook is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Many visitors explore the shopping areas in Queenstown. It's a bustling city with designer brands and boutique shopping. There are also souvenir shops and retail outlets.

Aoraki Mount Cook is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Is Queenstown or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Families?

Queenstown
Aoraki Mount Cook

Queenstown is great for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Aoraki Mount Cook is not as popular, but is still a nice mountain for its family-friendly activities.

You'll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in Queenstown. Kids will enjoy the Queenstown cable car and the Skyline Gondola. After a ride on the gondola, you can even take the luge back down! The city also offers lake cruises, family-friendly farm tours, boat tours, and kayaking.

Aoraki Mount Cook is a family-friendly place to visit. There are plenty of short walks that are perfect for little legs. Kids will also enjoy the boat rides on the lakes and the area's superb stargazing.


Is Queenstown or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Couples?

Queenstown
Aoraki Mount Cook

Queenstown and Aoraki Mount Cook both terrific destinations for a couple.

Queenstown is fantastic couple's destination with fun and romantic activities. The city is known for its adrenaline-filled adventure activities and couples who enjoy a thrill will appreciate the fun. There are also hot springs, boat cruises, and wine tours in the area. One of the most romantic activities is dinner at the Skyline.

Aoraki Mount Cook makes for a terrific place to visit as a couple. Couples will enjoy the stunning glaciers, beautiful walks, and iconic views. Many couples take helicopter rides to fully experience the area. Stargazing and hiking is also high on the list of must-do romantic activities.

Is Queenstown or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Queenstown
Aoraki Mount Cook

Queenstown is an unbeatable place for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Aoraki Mount Cook is not as popular, but is still a nice mountain for backpackers.

A large number of backpackers visit Queenstown, as it is a very popular city for budget travelers. With its thrill-seeking activities and nearby skiing, this is a great backpacker destination year round.

Plenty of budget travelers visit Aoraki Mount Cook. While many activities in the area are expensive, the hiking is world class and there are a few hostels and camping opportunities nearby.

Is Queenstown or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Students?

Queenstown
Aoraki Mount Cook

Queenstown is great for its student-friendly activities. However, Aoraki Mount Cook is not popular with students.

Many students visit Queenstown. There are excellent universities in the area as well as fun activities and a lively energy that students enjoy.

Aoraki Mount Cook is not popular with students.


Is Queenstown or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Queenstown
Aoraki Mount Cook

Queenstown is a good destination for times when you don't have a car. However, Aoraki Mount Cook is not a good destination for its public transit.

While Queenstown offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. There's a decent bus system that travels around town.

Public transit is limited or non-existant in Aoraki Mount Cook. Having a car is essential unless you take a private tour that provides transportation.

Is Queenstown or Aoraki Mount Cook a more walkable city?

Queenstown
Aoraki Mount Cook

Queenstown is great for its ease of walking around. However, Aoraki Mount Cook is not a good destination for its walkability.

Queenstown is a very walkable destination. In town, many of the sights and activities can be reached on foot.

Aoraki Mount Cook is generally not very walkable. While there are many trails through the region, you really must have a car to access the trail heads and efficiently get around.

For even more information, also check out Is Queenstown Worth Visiting? and Is Aoraki Mount Cook Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Aoraki Mount Cook or Queenstown?

How long in Queenstown or Aoraki Mount Cook?

It's fun to spend time in either Queenstown or Aoraki Mount Cook. Generally, people tend to spend more time in Queenstown due to the larger number of activities and things to do. Usually, 2-7 days is a good amount of time for Queenstown, and 2-4 days is enough time in Aoraki Mount Cook.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Queenstown than Aoraki Mount Cook 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 Queenstown.


  • How many days in Queenstown or Aoraki Mount Cook? Ideal Length of Stay
    Queenstown 2-7 
    Aoraki Mount Cook 2-4

One day in Queenstown or Aoraki Mount Cook?

With food and shopping around the destination of Queenstown, there's plenty to do. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it. It offers something for everyone.

With around the scenic mountain of Aoraki Mount Cook, there's plenty to do. Anyone can find something fun to do here. One of the main draws to the area is the hiking. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.


A weekend in Queenstown or Aoraki Mount Cook?

With shopping and skiing around the bustling city of Queenstown, there's plenty to do. Your budget might influence how long you stay. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here.

With around the destination of Aoraki Mount Cook, there's plenty to do. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. It offers something for everyone. Many people spend a weekend here. One of the main draws to the area is the hiking. In a weekend, you should have a good grasp of this mountain.

Five days in Queenstown or Aoraki Mount Cook?

With skiing and nightlife around the nature-oriented destination of Queenstown, there's plenty to do. Hikers are also drawn to this area. If you have five days, this city makes for a great vacation. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do. With all of its activities, you can easily fill five days here.

Aoraki Mount Cook, a popular mountain, is full of activities for travelers. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

A week in Queenstown or Aoraki Mount Cook?

Queenstown is a popular choice for travelers. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. One week here is typical. This would be the perfect place to spend one week, as it has just the right amount of activities.

Aoraki Mount Cook is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. One of the main draws to the area is the hiking. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Bicycle Tours in New Zealand, Tours for Outdoor and Nature Lovers in New Zealand, The Best Adventure Tours to New Zealand, and The Best Eco Tours in New Zealand.


Which place is cheaper, Aoraki Mount Cook or Queenstown?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Queenstown is $107, while the average daily cost in Aoraki Mount Cook is $108. 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 Queenstown and Aoraki Mount Cook in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Queenstown $57
    Aoraki Mount Cook $61
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Queenstown $114
    Aoraki Mount Cook $122
Compare Hotels in Queenstown and Aoraki Mount Cook

Looking for a hotel in Queenstown or Aoraki Mount Cook? 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 Queenstown


Hotels in Aoraki Mount Cook


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: Queenstown Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Queenstown $10
    Aoraki Mount Cook $28

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Queenstown

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Queenstown:

  • Tasman Glacier Helihike with Flight Transfers: $916
  • Milford Sound Cruise with Helicopter Transfer: $757
  • Private Transfer from Queenstown Central to Wanaka: $187
  • Private Transfers from Queenstown Airport to Wanaka : $187
  • Private Transfer from Wanaka to Queenstown Airport: $187
  • Private Transfer from Wanaka to Queenstown Central: $187
  • Private Transfer from Queenstown to Milford Sound Cruise Port: $169
  • From Mount Cook Transfer w/ Guided Landmark Tour: $107
  • Queenstown Airport: One-Way Private Transfer to Queenstown: $30

Is it cheaper to fly into Queenstown or Aoraki Mount Cook?

Prices for flights to both Aoraki Mount Cook and Queenstown 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
    Queenstown $37
    Aoraki Mount Cook $27

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Queenstown

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Queenstown.

  • Bar Crawl with 5 Free Shots and Pizza: $18
  • Dinner at Walter Peak High Country Farm and Cruise from Queenstown: $120
  • Queenstown Progressive Dinner Tour | Experience 3 Locations: $214

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Queenstown $22
    Aoraki Mount Cook $24
Typical Entertainment Prices in Queenstown

Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Queenstown are as follows:


  • Skyline Gondola (for 2)
    $31

Tours and Activities in Queenstown

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

  • 5-Hour Wine and Food Sampler Tour from Queenstown: $128
  • All About Paradise Glenorchy Tour: $119
  • Arrowtown To A Full Day Mountain Biking Adventure: $57
  • Arrowtown and Around Half-Day Small-Group Tour: $88
  • Arrowtown and Wanaka Highlights Tour from Queenstown: $132
  • Boutique Winery Half-Day Tour & Vineyard Platter-Style Lunch: $146
  • Challenger Self Drive Guided Buggy Tour from Queenstown: $297
  • Cruise Milford Small Group Day Tour from Queenstown : $174
  • Dart River Canoe and Jet Boat Experience from Queenstown: $278
  • Dart River Jet Boat and Wilderness Experience: $194
  • E-Bike Rental for Lake Dunstan Trail Experience : $117
  • Earnslaw Burn Explorer Helicopter Tour: $605

Tours and Activities in Aoraki Mount Cook

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Aoraki Mount Cook.

  • Fox Glacier Nature Tour: $57
  • Franz Josef Nature Tour: $57
  • Lake Matheson Nature Tour: $57
  • Mt. Cook to Queenstown Small Group Tour (1-way) : $110
  • From Christchurch: Mount Cook One-Way Discovery Tour: $121
  • Mt Cook to Christchurch 1 Way Small Group Tour, via Lake Tekapo : $125
  • Mount Cook to Queenstown Day Tour: $153
  • Day Tours from Mount Cook: $157
  • Mt Cook Small Group Tour from Queenstown with Optional Activities : $157
  • Mt Cook & Hooker Valley Hike Small Group Tour from Queenstown: $157
  • (MT) Mount Cook & Lake Tekapo Day Tour from Christchurch: $183
  • Gold Hunting Adventures: $234

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Queenstown $9.17
    Aoraki Mount Cook $21

Sample the Local Flavors in Queenstown

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Queenstown:

  • Ice Bar Crawl: $24
  • Hop on Hop off Wine Tours Queenstown : $50
  • Queenstown & Gibbston Valley: Hop-On Hop-Off Wine Tours: $55
  • Hop on Hop off Wine Tours Bannockburn - departing Queenstown: $63
  • Afternoon Wine Tasting Tour with 3 Wineries: $102
  • Afternoon brewery tour with lunch: $113
  • Queenstown Classic Wine Tour: 3 Vineyards, Caves and Cheeseboard: $113
  • Classic Wine Tour: $122
  • Wine Tasting Tour: $134
  • Central Otago Wine Tour from Queenstown Including Lunch: $136
  • The Ultimate Luxury Hop on Hop off Wine Tour: $145
  • Gourmet Food and Wine Tour with Lunch and Wine Tastings: $177

Sample the Local Flavors in Aoraki Mount Cook

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Aoraki Mount Cook:

  • Kinross Winery: Classic Central Otago Wine Tasting Experience: $16
  • Kinross Winery: Valli Wine Tasting Experience: $28
  • Kinross Winery: Premium Central Otago Wine Tasting Experience: $47


When comparing the travel costs between Queenstown and Aoraki Mount Cook, we can see that Aoraki Mount Cook 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 Queenstown Expensive? and Is Aoraki Mount Cook Expensive?.