A Travel Price Comparison for New Zealand Queenstown vs. Rotorua for Food, Hiking, Families, and Couples

Should you visit Queenstown or Rotorua?

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 Rotorua. 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 skiing, nightlife, and food.

Rotorua

Rotorua is a diverse, cultural, and natural town. This is also a very beautiful destination which attracts plenty of visitors. It's also known for food, hiking, and shopping.

Queenstown and Rotorua: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty


Is there more to do in Queenstown or Rotorua?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Queenstown than Rotorua, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Queenstown is better known for its skiing, food, nightlife, hiking, and shopping, while Rotorua is more popular for its museums. Queenstown is well known for its world class skiing, adrenaline-filled adventure sports, and stunning mountain scenery. Also, Queenstown is famous for Kawarau Bridge. Rotorua is well known for its geothermal activity, Maori cultural influence, and its role in the famous Lord of the Rings movies.

How is Queenstown different from Rotorua?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Queenstown or Rotorua Better for Skiing?

Queenstown
Rotorua

Queenstown is an amazing city to visit for skiing and snowboarding. However, Rotorua is not a skiing destination.

Visitors will find world class skiing in Queenstown. 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.

Rotorua is not a skiing destination.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Queenstown or Rotorua?

Queenstown
Rotorua

Rotorua is a well-known place for its sights and museums. However, Queenstown is not a good city for its museums and history.

Visitors can fill many days exploring the museums and attractions around Rotorua. The area is filled with opportunities to learn about the Maori culture. The Maori village of Whakarewarewa is a highlight and you should also visit Te Wairoa. Fans of Lord of the Rings won't want to miss Hobbiton either. Finally, Rotorua Museum well worth a visit.

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.

Is the Food Better in Queenstown or Rotorua? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Queenstown
Rotorua

Queenstown is an amazing city to visit for its restaurants. Also, Rotorua is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its restaurant scene.

Many restaurants in Queenstown have been singled out for their culinary prowess. 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.

With its innovative style combined with traditional elements, Rotorua makes for a great culinary experience. There's a wide selection of culinary options in the area that include steambox (food prepared with the geothermal heat), and hāngī, which is a traditional Maori cooking technique. Many restaurants also make use of the local fruit, vegetables, and meats.

Is Queenstown or Rotorua Better for Nightlife?

Queenstown
Rotorua

Queenstown is an excellent place to visit for its evening party scene. Also, Rotorua is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for nightlife.

Queenstown has a lively atmosphere and nightlife is popular here. 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.

Rotorua has an active nightlife scene for those who seek it out. You'll find the best concentration of bars and restaurants around Tutankei Street, which is often referred to as "Eat Street".


Is Queenstown or Rotorua Better for Hiking?

Queenstown
Rotorua

Queenstown is an amazing city to visit for its hiking trails. Also, Rotorua is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its hiking experiences.

Around Queenstown visitors will find world-class hiking trails. 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.

You'll find a nice variety of hiking trails around Rotorua. The area is filled with beautiful walking trails that take you by lakes, volcanoes, and geothermal hot springs. A favorite route in the area is Tarawera Trail, which is 15 kilometers long and ends at a natural hot water beach.

Is the Shopping Better in Queenstown or Rotorua?

Queenstown
Rotorua

Queenstown is an excellent place to visit for its shopping areas. Also, Rotorua is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for shopping.

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.

Rotorua is a great destination for shopping. You'll find stores and galleries selling art and crafts around the main town center.

Is Queenstown or Rotorua Better for Families?

Queenstown
Rotorua

Rotorua is a world-class destination for its family-friendly activities. Also, Queenstown is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its kid-friendly activities.

With a huge array of activities for kids, Rotorua is very family-friendly. The geothermal activity is fascinating for kids and adults alike. There are also many activities that will teach kids about the Maori culture and for animal lovers, there are farms and wildlife tours. Lord of the Rings fans won't want to miss Hobbiton, and there are many thrilling activities in the area such as white water rafting.

Because of its large number of kid-friendly activities, Queenstown is very family-friendly. 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.


Is Queenstown or Rotorua Better for Couples?

Queenstown
Rotorua

Queenstown and Rotorua both fantastic 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.

Rotorua makes for a terrific place to visit as a couple. The unique environment and beautiful natural setting make this a wonderful honeymoon destination. Couples will appreciate the geothermal activity, beautiful walking trails, and diverse outdoor activities. There's also horseback riding, hot springs, and helicopter rides.

Is Queenstown or Rotorua Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Queenstown
Rotorua

Both Queenstown and Rotorua are fantastic destinations for backpackers.

Queenstown is a mecca for backpackers and budget travelers. With its thrill-seeking activities and nearby skiing, this is a great backpacker destination year round.

With so many budget-friendly offerings, Rotorua is extremely popular for backpackers. Well established on the backpacker trail, there are plenty of hostels in the area and tons of activities that backpackers will enjoy.

Is Queenstown or Rotorua Better for Students?

Queenstown
Rotorua

Queenstown is an excellent place to visit for its student-friendly activities. However, Rotorua is not popular with students.

Students come from all over to stay in Queenstown. There are excellent universities in the area as well as fun activities and a lively energy that students enjoy.

Rotorua is not popular with students.


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

Queenstown
Rotorua

Both Queenstown and Rotorua offer notable public transit options.

Queenstown has a few public transit options. There's a decent bus system that travels around town.

Rotorua has some public transit options. There are buses and shuttles that travel around town and through the area.

Is Queenstown or Rotorua a more walkable city?

Queenstown
Rotorua

Queenstown is an excellent place to visit for its ease of walking around. Also, Rotorua is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its walkability.

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

Rotorua is somewhat walkable. The town itself is fairly walkable but if you want to get into the surrounding areas, having a vehicle provides the most flexibility.

For even more information, also check out Is Queenstown Worth Visiting? and Is Rotorua Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Rotorua or Queenstown?

How long in Queenstown or Rotorua?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Queenstown and Rotorua. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Queenstown than in Rotorua. Usually, 2-7 days is a good amount of time for Queenstown, and 2-3 days is enough time in Rotorua.

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

Couples should spend more time in Queenstown than Rotorua. 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 Rotorua 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 Rotorua? Ideal Length of Stay
    Queenstown 2-7 
    Rotorua 2-3

One day in Queenstown or Rotorua?

In Queenstown, you'll find skiing and nightlife. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. This city offers something for everyone. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

With museums and nightlife around the cultural town of Rotorua, there's plenty to do. Anyone can find something fun to do here. 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 Rotorua?

In Queenstown, you'll find nightlife and food. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. A weekend here is typical. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Queenstown has to offer.

With nightlife and food around the destination of Rotorua, 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. In a weekend, you should have a good grasp of this town.

Five days in Queenstown or Rotorua?

Queenstown is a great place to explore. It is common to spend five days here. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Five days is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Queenstown has to offer. Anyone can find something fun to do here.

Rotorua, a popular town, 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 Rotorua?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Queenstown. In Queenstown, you'll find shopping and skiing. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. With all of its activities, you can easily fill one week here.

Rotorua is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. 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, Rotorua or Queenstown?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Queenstown is $108, while the average daily cost in Rotorua is $97. 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 Rotorua in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Queenstown $57
    Rotorua $50
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Queenstown $114
    Rotorua $100
Compare Hotels in Queenstown and Rotorua

Looking for a hotel in Queenstown 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 Queenstown


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: Queenstown Hotel Prices and Rotorua Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Queenstown $11
    Rotorua $5.18

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Queenstown

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Queenstown:

  • Private Transfers from Queenstown Airport to Wanaka : $184
  • Private Transfer from Wanaka to Queenstown Central: $184
  • Private Transfer from Wanaka to Queenstown Airport: $184
  • Private Transfer from Queenstown Central to Wanaka: $184

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: $184

Is it cheaper to fly into Queenstown or Rotorua?

Prices for flights to both Rotorua 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
    Rotorua $30

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Queenstown

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

  • Dinner at Walter Peak High Country Farm and Cruise from Queenstown: $118

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Queenstown $22
    Rotorua $35
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:

  • Arrowtown To A Full Day Mountain Biking Adventure: $56
  • Arrowtown and Around Half-Day Small-Group Tour: $87
  • Arrowtown and Wanaka Highlights Tour from Queenstown: $130
  • Best of Queenstown Sightseeing Tour: $124
  • Challenger Self Drive Guided Buggy Tour from Queenstown: $292
  • Dart River Canoe and Jet Boat Experience from Queenstown: $274
  • Dart River Jet Boat and Wilderness Experience: $191
  • Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise from Queenstown: $267
  • E-Bike Rental for Lake Dunstan Trail Experience : $115
  • Escape Adventure AR Experience in Queenstown: $24
  • Family Adventures Rafting and Sightseeing Trip in Queenstown: $186
  • Full-Day Guided Sightseeing Tour of Mount Cook from Queenstown: $155

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
    $28

Tours and Activities in Rotorua

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

  • Mountain Jade Highlights Tour: $22
  • Whaka Geothermal Trails Self-Guided Tour: $22
  • Geothermal Adults Only Mineral Bathing - Pavilion Pools Bathing Ticket: $28
  • Whakarewarewa Village Guided Tour: $28
  • Agrodome Farm Experience including Farm Show and Farm Tour - Rotorua: $31
  • Whaka Trails and Maori Village Combo Tour : $45
  • Geothermal Lakeside Bathing Experience - Deluxe Lake Spa: $47
  • Rotorua Duck Boat Guided City and Lakes Tour: $53
  • Te Puia -Te Rā Guided Tour: $59
  • Katoa Jet Boat tour on Lake Rotorua: $62
  • Off-Road 4WD Buggy Adventure from Rotorua: $62
  • Nocturnal adventure Glow-worm tour: $65

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Queenstown $9.20
    Rotorua $12

Sample the Local Flavors in Queenstown

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Queenstown:

  • Hop on Hop off Wine Tours Queenstown : $49
  • Hop on Hop off Wine Tours Bannockburn - departing Queenstown: $62
  • Original Wine Tour: $115
  • Queenstown Classic Wine Tour: 3 Vineyards, Caves and Cheeseboard: $124
  • Queenstown Wine Tour with Wine Dog | Adults Only: $134
  • Afternoon Boutique Wine Tour: $136
  • The Ultimate Luxury Hop on Hop off Wine Tour: $143
  • Central Otago Wine Tour from Queenstown Including Lunch: $149
  • Barrel Room Wine Tour in New Zealand: $152
  • Gibbston Half-Day Private Wine Tour with Hotel Pickup: $205

Typical Alcohol Prices in Rotorua

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


  • Bottle of Wine
    $12


When comparing the travel costs between Queenstown and Rotorua, we can see that Queenstown 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 Rotorua Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Queenstown or Rotorua?

Rotorua has a larger population, and is about 6 times larger than the population of Queenstown. When comparing the sizes of Queenstown and 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 along with the activities and attractions that interest you.