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

Should you visit Rotorua or Aoraki Mount Cook?

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

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel comparison between Rotorua and Aoraki Mount Cook 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.

Rotorua

Rotorua is a world-renowned, diverse, and cultural town. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. It's also popular because of the food, hiking, and shopping.

Aoraki Mount Cook

Aoraki Mount Cook is a world renowned, scenic, and dramatic mountain. It's considered by many to be an absolutely beautiful destination, too. It's also popular because of the hiking.

Rotorua and Aoraki Mount Cook: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • 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 public transit
  • Impressive beauty
Pros
  • Good for hiking
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for food
  • Less family-friendly
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Public transit not as usable


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

Travelers will usually find more to do in Rotorua. Although Rotorua and Aoraki Mount Cook are popular destinations, Rotorua has more sights and attractions for tourists. Rotorua is very popular for its museums, food, nightlife, and shopping, while Aoraki Mount Cook attracts visitors for its hiking and impressive beauty. Rotorua is famous for its geothermal activity, Maori cultural influence, and its role in the famous Lord of the Rings movies. It is also well known for Waimangu Volcanic Valley. Aoraki Mount Cook is famous for its glaciers, alpine setting, and being the highest mountain in New Zealand.

How is Rotorua 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 Rotorua. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

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

Rotorua
Aoraki Mount Cook

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

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.

Aoraki Mount Cook does not have museums and landmarks.


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

Rotorua
Aoraki Mount Cook

Rotorua is great for its local flavors and cuisine. However, Aoraki Mount Cook is not a good destination for its local cuisine and restaurants.

Rotorua has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. 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.

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 Rotorua or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Nightlife?

Rotorua
Aoraki Mount Cook

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

If you're looking for night time activities Rotorua has a few options to choose from. You'll find the best concentration of bars and restaurants around Tutankei Street, which is often referred to as "Eat Street".

Aoraki Mount Cook is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.

Is Rotorua or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Hiking?

Rotorua
Aoraki Mount Cook

Aoraki Mount Cook is an amazing mountain to visit for its hiking trails. Also, Rotorua is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its hiking experiences.

Around Aoraki Mount Cook visitors will find world-class hiking trails. 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.

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 Rotorua or Aoraki Mount Cook?

Rotorua
Aoraki Mount Cook

Rotorua is a good destination for its shopping areas. However, Aoraki Mount Cook is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Rotorua has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. You'll find stores and galleries selling art and crafts around the main town center.

Aoraki Mount Cook is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Is Rotorua or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Families?

Rotorua
Aoraki Mount Cook

Rotorua is an unbeatable place for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Aoraki Mount Cook is not as popular, but is still a nice mountain for its family-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.

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 Rotorua or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Couples?

Rotorua
Aoraki Mount Cook

Both Rotorua and Aoraki Mount Cook are fantastic destinations for a couple's getaway.

Rotorua is a great town for couples, as it has plenty to offer. 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.

Aoraki Mount Cook is fantastic couple's destination with fun and romantic activities. 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 Rotorua or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Rotorua
Aoraki Mount Cook

Rotorua 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 Rotorua, as it is a very popular town for budget travelers. Well established on the backpacker trail, there are plenty of hostels in the area and tons of activities that backpackers will enjoy.

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

Rotorua
Aoraki Mount Cook

Rotorua 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 Rotorua offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. There are buses and shuttles that travel around town and through the area.

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 Rotorua or Aoraki Mount Cook a more walkable city?

Rotorua
Aoraki Mount Cook

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

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

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 Rotorua Worth Visiting? and Is Aoraki Mount Cook Worth Visiting?.

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

How long in Rotorua or Aoraki Mount Cook?

It's fun to spend time in either Rotorua or Aoraki Mount Cook. Generally, people tend to spend more time in Aoraki Mount Cook due to the larger number of activities and things to do. Usually, 2-3 days is a good amount of time for Rotorua, and 2-4 days is enough time in Aoraki Mount Cook.

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Rotorua 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 Rotorua.


  • How many days in Rotorua or Aoraki Mount Cook? Ideal Length of Stay
    Rotorua 2-3 
    Aoraki Mount Cook 2-4

One day in Rotorua or Aoraki Mount Cook?

With shopping and museums around the destination of Rotorua, 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.

In Aoraki Mount Cook, you'll find . Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. One reason most visitors come is for the hiking. This mountain offers something for everyone. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

A weekend in Rotorua or Aoraki Mount Cook?

With museums and nightlife around the diverse town of Rotorua, 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.

In Aoraki Mount Cook, you'll find . 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. One reason most visitors come is for the hiking. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Aoraki Mount Cook has to offer.

Five days in Rotorua or Aoraki Mount Cook?

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the cultural destination of Rotorua. Hikers are also drawn to this area. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days.

Aoraki Mount Cook is a great place to explore. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. Anyone can find something fun to do here.


A week in Rotorua or Aoraki Mount Cook?

Rotorua is a popular choice for travelers. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. This town offers a variety of activities to choose from. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Aoraki Mount Cook. Many people enjoy the when visiting Aoraki Mount Cook. One reason most visitors come is for the hiking. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best G Adventures Tours to New Zealand, The Best Family-Friendly Tours to New Zealand, The Best Hiking & Trekking Tours in New Zealand, and The Best One Week (7-Day) Tours in New Zealand.


Which place is cheaper, Aoraki Mount Cook or Rotorua?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Rotorua is $97, while the average daily cost in Aoraki Mount Cook is $109. 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 Rotorua and Aoraki Mount Cook in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Rotorua $50
    Aoraki Mount Cook $61
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Rotorua $100
    Aoraki Mount Cook $122
Compare Hotels in Rotorua and Aoraki Mount Cook

Looking for a hotel in Rotorua 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 Rotorua


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: Rotorua Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Rotorua $5.18
    Aoraki Mount Cook $28

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 Rotorua or Aoraki Mount Cook?

Prices for flights to both Aoraki Mount Cook and Rotorua 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
    Rotorua $30
    Aoraki Mount Cook $27

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Rotorua $35
    Aoraki Mount Cook $24
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:

  • 4x4 Self Drive Yamaha Experience : $93
  • Agrodome Farm Experience including Farm Show and Farm Tour - Rotorua: $31
  • Cultural Experience & Seasonal Māori Cuisine at Te Pā Tū : $162
  • From Auckland to Hobbiton and Te Puia Day Tour with Lunch: $341
  • Geothermal Adults Only Mineral Bathing - Pavilion Pools Bathing Ticket: $28
  • Geothermal Lakeside Bathing Experience - Deluxe Lake Spa: $47
  • Glow Worm Kayak Tour: $105
  • Hobbiton Day Tour from Rotorua with lunch at Hobbiton: $161
  • Kahukiwi Experiences Luxury 4WD 3hour Guided Maori Tour: $116
  • Kaituna White-Water Rafting Adventure: $84
  • Katoa Jet Boat tour on Lake Rotorua: $62
  • Mitai Maori Village Cultural Experience in Rotorua: $96

Tours and Activities in Aoraki Mount Cook

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

  • (MT) Mount Cook & Lake Tekapo Day Tour from Christchurch: $214
  • 45-Minute Mount Cook Ski Plane and Helicopter Combo Tour: $298
  • Day Tours from Mount Cook: $156
  • Fox Glacier Nature Tour: $65
  • Franz Josef Nature Tour: $65
  • From Christchurch: Mount Cook One-Way Discovery Tour: $122
  • Gold Hunting Adventures: $230
  • Lake Matheson Nature Tour: $65
  • Mt Cook & Hooker Valley Hike Small Group Tour from Queenstown: $156
  • Mt Cook Small Group Tour from Queenstown with Optional Activities : $156
  • Mt Cook Tour: Finish at Christchurch, Queenstown or Dunedin: $795
  • Mt Cook to Christchurch 1 Way Small Group Tour, via Lake Tekapo : $124

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Rotorua $12
    Aoraki Mount Cook $21
Typical Alcohol Prices in Rotorua

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


  • Bottle of Wine
    $12

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 Rotorua 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 Rotorua Expensive? and Is Aoraki Mount Cook Expensive?.