A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers Surfers Paradise vs. Kaikoura for Nightlife, Beaches, Families, and Backpackers

Should you visit Surfers Paradise or Kaikoura?

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

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Surfers Paradise or Kaikoura, this travel comparison, which includes costs, can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison down below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.

Surfers Paradise

Surfers Paradise is a active, ritzy, and glamourous city. And you can't forget about the food, scuba diving and snorkeling, and beaches.

Kaikoura

Kaikoura is a nature-oriented, biologically diverse, and unique town. It's also popular because of the shopping, nightlife, and food.

Surfers Paradise and Kaikoura: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • 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
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less popular for shopping
  • Public transit not as usable


Is there more to do in Surfers Paradise or Kaikoura?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Surfers Paradise. Although Surfers Paradise and Kaikoura are both popular with visitors, Surfers Paradise has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Surfers Paradise is more popular for its museums, nightlife, resorts, scuba diving & snorkeling, beaches, and shopping, while Kaikoura is known for its hiking. Surfers Paradise is more touristy than Kaikoura and is popular for its long sandy beaches, glamourous party scene, colorful amusement parks, and active water sports. It is also home to the SkyPoint Observation Deck. Kaikoura is popular for its local Sperm Whale population, abundance of marine life, and local crayfish (lobster) recipes.

How is Surfers Paradise different from Kaikoura?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Surfers Paradise or Kaikoura?

Surfers Paradise
Kaikoura

Surfers Paradise is a well-known place for its sights and museums. However, Kaikoura is not a good town for its museums and history.

Surfers Paradise offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. For the best views of the coastline head to the SkyPoint Observation Deck at the Q1 Resort and Spa. It's in Australia's tallest residential tower. You can also visit the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, or the Sea World Marine Park, as well as countless other amusement parks or entertainment centers.

While most people don't head to Kaikoura specifically for the museums and attractions, it does offer a few options. There aren't many museums in the area, but it's worth learning more about the region's history with a visit to Kaikoura Museum.


Is the Food Better in Surfers Paradise or Kaikoura? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Surfers Paradise
Kaikoura

Local dishes at restaurants are fun to try in both Surfers Paradise and Kaikoura.

Surfers Paradise has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. There's a trendy food scene with a number of award winning restaurants in the area. There are high end seafood restaurants, modern international eateries, and niche food bars that all cater to the tourist crowd.

With its innovative style combined with traditional elements, Kaikoura makes for a great culinary experience. Seafood lovers will be in heaven in this town! There are many local, freshly caught favorites such as cod, mussels, and crayfish (which is actually lobster). You'll find plenty of casual eateries, including an authentic American diner.

Is Surfers Paradise or Kaikoura Better for Nightlife?

Surfers Paradise
Kaikoura

Surfers Paradise is a world-class destination for nightlife and partying. Also, Kaikoura is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its evening party scene.

People head to Surfers Paradise just to party. This high energy area is filled with glitzy nightclubs and trendy cocktail bars. There are parties that last until the early morning hours and you'll find the most active nightlife scene along the famous Surfers Paradise glitter strip.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Kaikoura. This is a small town so the nightlife scene is limited, but there are a few restaurants with bars around town.

Is Surfers Paradise or Kaikoura Better for Resorts?

Surfers Paradise
Kaikoura

Surfers Paradise is a world-class destination for its resorts. However, Kaikoura is not a resort destination.

For the ultimate resort vacation, Surfers Paradise is a great choice. The high-rise skyline is filled with luxury resorts and trendy hotels. Fancy pools and rooftop views make this is a glitzy and lively place to stay.

Kaikoura is not a resort destination.


Is Surfers Paradise or Kaikoura Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Surfers Paradise
Kaikoura

Surfers Paradise is a well-known place for its diving and snorkeling. However, Kaikoura is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Many visitors partake in scuba diving or snorkeing while visiting Surfers Paradise. There's no shortage of scuba diving and snorkeling excursions that leave from the area. You'll see a diversity of marine life and interesting undersea reefs.

Kaikoura is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is Surfers Paradise or Kaikoura Better for Beaches?

Surfers Paradise
Kaikoura

Surfers Paradise is a world-class destination for the beache. Also, Kaikoura is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for the beach.

Travelers come from around the world to visit the beaches in Surfers Paradise. It's at the heart of the Gold Coast, and you'll enjoy two kilometers of golden sand and beautiful surf. The beaches are lined with high rise buildings and there's plenty of energy and amenities for visitors. This is a popular tourist destination and there is no shortage of water sports and other activities along the beaches.

Kaikoura is a very popular place to visit for its beaches. There are many black pebble beaches in the area, which are great for wildlife spotting, but not so good for swimming. Gooch's Beach is one of the most popular, and it's sandier than many of the other beaches. South Bay is another popular area to visit.

Is Surfers Paradise or Kaikoura Better for Hiking?

Surfers Paradise
Kaikoura

Kaikoura is a very popular place for its hiking trails. Also, Surfers Paradise is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its hiking experiences.

Many visitors explore the nearby hiking trails while visiting Kaikoura. There are many coastal walks in the area that will take you through a variety of landscapes. This is also a great way to see the many diverse types of wildlife throughout the peninsula.

Plenty of visitors go hiking around Surfers Paradise. Outside of town you'll find many coastal hikes and inland trails. You can see waterfalls or breathtaking views of the water.


Is the Shopping Better in Surfers Paradise or Kaikoura?

Surfers Paradise
Kaikoura

Surfers Paradise is a world-class destination for its shopping opportunities. Also, Kaikoura is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its shopping areas.

The abundance of shops in Surfers Paradise make it a world-class shopping destination. Beachside markets sell local items. There are also large shopping malls that are filled with international fashion brands and boutique shops that sell unique items.

Kaikoura has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. There are local shops where you can pick up some interesting products that are unique to the area.

Is Surfers Paradise or Kaikoura Better for Families?

Surfers Paradise
Kaikoura

Surfers Paradise and Kaikoura are both fantastic destinations for the whole family.

Surfers Paradise is an amazing family-friendly city to visit. It's filled with activities that kids and adults will enjoy. There's everything from sandy beaches to amusement park rides and entertainment centers. Check out Infinity, Ripley's Believe It Or Not, or the view from Q1 SkyPoint. There's also countless minigolf places, kayaking, and other water sports.

Kaikoura is an extremely popular city to visit for families. Kids who love animals will appreciate all of the wildlife in the area. This is one of the best places in the country to see dolphins, whales, and seals. There are world class whale watching trips as well as opportunities to swim with the dolphins and get close to the seals. There is also kayaking, a coastal train, and even sheep shearing. Minigolf is also a fun activity in the area.

Is Surfers Paradise or Kaikoura Better for Couples?

Surfers Paradise
Kaikoura

Surfers Paradise and Kaikoura are both very good to visit as a couple.

Surfers Paradise makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Walk along the beach or take in the view from Q1 SkyPoint. There are also many fun-filled adventure activities as well as restaurants and a lively party scene.

Couples visit Kaikoura frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. The town is all about wildlife, so if whale watching trips, dolphin spotting, and experiencing amazing local wildlife is your thing, then this is your spot! There are also beautiful coastal sights with a dramatic mountain backdrop.


Is Surfers Paradise or Kaikoura Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Surfers Paradise
Kaikoura

Surfers Paradise is a world-class destination for backpackers. Also, Kaikoura is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for backpackers and budget travelers.

Backpackers and budget travelers come from all over the world to visit Surfers Paradise. Backpackers who want fun entertainment, a lively beach scene, and water sports will find their place here. There are also hostels with reasonable rates and plenty of backpackers to hang out with.

Plenty of budget travelers and backpackers visit Kaikoura. There are a decent number of hostels in the area and plenty of fun activities that backpackers will enjoy.

Is Surfers Paradise or Kaikoura Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Surfers Paradise
Kaikoura

Surfers Paradise is a popular place for its public transit. However, Kaikoura is not a good town for times when you don't have a car.

Surfers Paradise has a few public transit options. Without a car, you can use the shuttle buses, public buses, and light rail to get around.

Public transit is quite limited in Kaikoura. The town is very small and there is no real public transit in the area.

Is Surfers Paradise or Kaikoura a more walkable city?

Surfers Paradise
Kaikoura

Surfers Paradise and Kaikoura are good when it comes to walkability.

Surfers Paradise is a somewhat walkable city. There are walking and bike paths around town.

Kaikoura is somewhat walkable. There are many coastal walks in the area, which is a great way to soak up the beauty and see the wildlife. The town itself is small and most of the accommodation is along Beach Road, so it's relatively easy to reach places on foot.


For even more information, also check out Is Surfers Paradise Worth Visiting? and Is Kaikoura Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Kaikoura or Surfers Paradise?

How long in Surfers Paradise or Kaikoura?

It's fun to spend time in either Surfers Paradise or Kaikoura. Generally, people tend to spend more time in Surfers Paradise due to the larger number of activities and things to do. Usually, 3-7 days is a good amount of time for Surfers Paradise, and 2-4 days is enough time in Kaikoura.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Surfers Paradise than Kaikoura 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 Surfers Paradise.


  • How many days in Surfers Paradise or Kaikoura? Ideal Length of Stay
    Surfers Paradise 3-7 
    Kaikoura 2-4

One day in Surfers Paradise or Kaikoura?

The city of Surfers Paradise offers museums and nightlife. Most people come for the beaches. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

You'll find shopping and nightlife around the nature-oriented destination of Kaikoura. Hikers are also drawn to this area. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. This town offers a variety of activities to choose from.

A weekend in Surfers Paradise or Kaikoura?

Surfers Paradise is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than a weekend exploring. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

You'll find nightlife and food around the nature-oriented town of Kaikoura. If you have a weekend, this town makes for a great vacation. It's also a great beach destination, too. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. This would be the perfect place to spend a weekend, as it has just the right amount of activities.

Five days in Surfers Paradise or Kaikoura?

Surfers Paradise is a popular choice for travelers. Five days here is typical. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Surfers Paradise, five days is sufficent for most. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Kaikoura is a popular choice for travelers. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. It will give you the chance to have new experiences. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.


A week in Surfers Paradise or Kaikoura?

Surfers Paradise is a great place to explore. It is common to spend one week here. It's also a great beach destination, too. One week is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Surfers Paradise has to offer. This city offers something for everyone.

Kaikoura is a great place to explore. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Romantic Tours for Couples in Australia, The Best Contiki Tours to Australia, The Best One Week (7-Day) Tours in New Zealand, and The Best 2-Week Tours in New Zealand.


Which place is cheaper, Kaikoura or Surfers Paradise?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Surfers Paradise is $105, while the average daily cost in Kaikoura is $140. 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 Surfers Paradise and Kaikoura in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Surfers Paradise $67
    Kaikoura $50
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Surfers Paradise $134
    Kaikoura $100
Compare Hotels in Surfers Paradise and Kaikoura

Looking for a hotel in Surfers Paradise or Kaikoura? 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 Surfers Paradise


Hotels in Kaikoura


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: Kaikoura Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Surfers Paradise $11
    Kaikoura $18

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Surfers Paradise

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

  • Gold Coast Theme Parks: Shared Hotel Transfers: $15
  • Private Transfer from Gold Coast Airport - Surfers Paradise: $51
  • Luxury Private Transfer between Gold Coast Airport and Gold Coast city (1-7pax) : $92
  • Private Transfer from Brisbane Airports to Surfers Paradise: $109
  • Gold Coast Airport Transfers Corporate Chauffeurs Gold Coast: $122
  • All-Inclusive Dolphin & Tangalooma Wrecks Day Cruise (Gold Coast Transfer): $151
  • Private Transfer to Brisbane/BNE Airport from Gold Coast/OOL Airport( 1-7 pax): $232
  • Gold Coast Hot Air Balloon + Winery Breakfast + Return Transfers: $296

Is it cheaper to fly into Surfers Paradise or Kaikoura?

Prices for flights to both Kaikoura and Surfers Paradise 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
    Surfers Paradise $27
    Kaikoura $39

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Surfers Paradise

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

  • Buffet Dinner Sightseeing Cruise: $79

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Surfers Paradise $24
    Kaikoura $158
Typical Entertainment Prices in Surfers Paradise

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


  • Surf Lesson
    $79

Tours and Activities in Surfers Paradise

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

  • Skip the Line:Wax Museum Ticket-World in Wax & Guided Tour of Chamber of Horrors: $22
  • Gold Coast 1.5-Hour Sightseeing River Cruise from Surfers Paradise: $31
  • Gold Coast Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing Cruise 1 Day Pass: $31
  • Gold Coast Afternoon River Cruise: $32
  • Guided Gold Coast Amphibious Bus Tour: $33
  • Gold Coast Quack'rDuck Amphibious Tour from Surfers Paradise: $37
  • Gold Coast City Lights Cruise: $37
  • Tropical Fruit World Farm Full Tour : $38
  • Surfers Paradise Sunset Kayak Tour: $47
  • Twilight SUP Tour in Surfers Paradise: $48
  • Bush Tucker and Crab Adventure Cruise: $50
  • Paradise SUP Tour: $52

Tours and Activities in Kaikoura

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

  • Llama Trek (Taster) - Kowhai River Valley and Native Woodland Tour: $84
  • 1-Hour Private Heli-Picnic Mountain top tour in Kaikoura : $245
  • 40-minute Mt Fyffe Summit Heli Tour in Kaikoura : $229
  • Half Day Zipline Adventure in Kaikoura: $100
  • Kaikoura Swim with Dolphins Tour from Christchurch: $248
  • Kaikoura Whale Watch Day Tour from Christchurch: $220
  • 1-Hour Whale Watching Helicopter Tour: $645
  • Guided Family Kayaking Adventure: $92
  • Half-Day Wildlife Kayaking Tour: $92
  • Seal-Watching Pedal Kayak Tour: $63
  • Whale Watching Cruise: $101
  • Wildlife Kayaking Tour at Sunset: $92

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Surfers Paradise $11
    Kaikoura -


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Surfers Paradise and Kaikoura, we can see that Kaikoura is more expensive. And not only is Surfers Paradise much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Surfers Paradise would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Surfers Paradise and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Kaikoura would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Kaikoura than you might in Surfers Paradise.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Surfers Paradise Expensive? and Is Kaikoura Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Surfers Paradise or Kaikoura?

Surfers Paradise has a larger population, and is about 30 times larger than the population of Kaikoura. When comparing the sizes of Surfers Paradise and Kaikoura, 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.