A Travel Price Comparison for New Zealand Taupo vs. Dunedin for Families, Couples, Backpackers, and Food

Should you visit Taupo or Dunedin?

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

Should I visit Taupo or Dunedin? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Taupo

Taupo is a otherworldly, striking, and stunning town. Don't miss this spot, as it's a charming small town with plenty of activities. It offers plenty of beauty for visitors. Other popular activities here include food, hiking, and shopping.

Dunedin

Dunedin is a small, hilly, and cultural city. And you can't forget about the shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Taupo and Dunedin: 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
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with couples


Is there more to do in Taupo or Dunedin?

Both Dunedin and Taupo have plenty of things to do for visitors. Both offer a variety of sights, activities, and attractions for tourists. Taupo is more popular for its skiing, food, hiking, small town charm, and impressive beauty, while Dunedin is known for its museums, nightlife, beaches, and shopping. Taupo is more touristy than Dunedin and is known for its thermal hot springs, dramatic landscapes, and world class hikes. Dunedin is popular for its wildlife and proximity to the Otago Peninsula.

How is Taupo different from Dunedin?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Taupo or Dunedin Better for Skiing?

Taupo
Dunedin

Taupo is an unbeatable place for winter skiing. However, Dunedin is not a skiing destination.

If you're an avid snow skiier, Taupo should be on your list. Nearby Mount Ruapehu offers access to the longest running ski season in both Australia and New Zealand. From June until October you can enjoy the largest commercial ski areas around. There are options for everyone from young beginners to experts. The two main ski resorts in the area are Whakapapa Ski Area and Tūroa Ski Area.

Dunedin is not a skiing destination.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Taupo or Dunedin?

Taupo
Dunedin

Dunedin is a great destination for its museums and landmarks. However, Taupo is a town with minimal options for its historical sights.

Dunedin offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. The city has cultural scene that is centered around both Scottish and Maori heritage. Top sights around town include the Larnach Castle, the Dunedin Railway Station, Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, and the Otago Museum.

If you're looking to pass the time, head to a museum or historic sight in Taupo. Stunning natural beauty and adventure-filled activities are what Taupo is all about, but you won't find much in the form of museums.

Is the Food Better in Taupo or Dunedin? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Taupo
Dunedin

Taupo is well known for its restaurant scene. Also, Dunedin is still popular, but not quite as popular for its local flavors and cuisine.

Dining out in Taupo is an experience not to be missed. The town is filled with local restaurants that make use of local ingredients such as fresh caught trout, local produce, and wild game. The town also has many farmers markets and a strong cafe culture.

There are plenty of up and coming restaurants around Dunedin. The culinary scene in town continues to grow and improve. There are local eateries that have charm and character and serve interesting and local dishes.

Is Taupo or Dunedin Better for Nightlife?

Taupo
Dunedin

Dunedin is a great destination for nightlife and partying. Also, Taupo is still popular, but not quite as popular for its evening party scene.

The people in Dunedin know how to have a good time. The town has eclectic bars and a diverse club scene that is fun to experience. It has a lively nightlife scene that is driven, in part, by the large student population.

If you're looking for night time activities Taupo has a few options to choose from. It's a small resort town that is active during the day and night. There are low key activities in the evening like soaking in the thermal hot pools or grabbing a drink at a bar.


Is Taupo or Dunedin Better for Beaches?

Taupo
Dunedin

Dunedin is a popular place for the beache. However, Taupo is not a beach destination.

Dunedin is a good option for a beach vacation. Many of the beaches are just a short drive from the city center. The surf is surprisingly good and the beaches are fun during the warmer summer months.

Taupo is not a beach destination.

Is Taupo or Dunedin Better for Hiking?

Taupo
Dunedin

Taupo is well known for its hiking experiences. Also, Dunedin is still popular, but not quite as popular for hiking.

You'll find a nice variety of hiking trails around Taupo. The area is filled with beautiful hikes that take you through the natural beauty. During the fall season you can enjoy the fall foliage and during the summer months the wildlife and waterfront setting is at a peak.

Many people include a hike when visiting Dunedin. There are biking and hiking trails that travel around town and through the surrounding landscapes.

Is the Shopping Better in Taupo or Dunedin?

Taupo
Dunedin

Dunedin is a great destination for its shopping opportunities. Also, Taupo is still popular, but not quite as popular for its shopping areas.

Dunedin is a popular shopping destination with plenty of stores. The shopping scene is diverse and eclectic with everything from vintage shops to fashion boutiques. Some of the most popular shopping areas are Edinburgh Way, Octagon Entertainment Precinct, Moray Place, and the Warehouse Precinct.

Taupo has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. The lakefront town has a nice, pedestrian-friendly stretch with boutique shops, fashion outlets, and souvenir vendors.


Is Taupo or Dunedin Better for Families?

Taupo
Dunedin

Taupo is an unbeatable place for its family-friendly activities. Also, Dunedin is still popular, but not quite as popular for its kid-friendly activities.

As it has a large number of activities for kids, Taupo is a very family-friendly destination. Set on the edge of Lake Taupo, there are many family-friendly activities in the area like swimming, boating, and hiking. There are also thermal hot springs and in the winter months skiing. Families who enjoy outdoor adventures will find no shortage of options year round.

Dunedin is a very family-friendly destination. It's one of the largest cities on the South Island, and there are many educational opportunities and unique experiences available to kids. You can visit the Otago Museum or the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, take a wildlife cruise, or visit the Larnach Castle. You can also take a ride on the Inlander or simply hang out at a playground.

Is Taupo or Dunedin Better for Couples?

Taupo
Dunedin

Taupo is an unbeatable place for couples. Also, Dunedin is still popular, but not quite as popular for romance.

Taupo makes for a terrific place to visit as a couple. Honeymooners and couples who enjoy romantic scenery, beautiful sunsets, and outdoor adventure will fall in love with this area. You can soak in thermal hot springs and picnic next to beautiful waterfalls. There are also breathtaking hikes and great water activities.

Dunedin is a nice destination for couples. You can wander through the castle or explore one of the city's markets. There are also romantic restaurants and many opportunities to see wildlife.

Is Taupo or Dunedin Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Taupo
Dunedin

Taupo is an unbeatable place for backpackers. Also, Dunedin is still popular, but not quite as popular for backpackers and budget travelers.

Taupo is a very popular town to visit for backpackers. There's plenty of backpacker and hostel accommodation in the area. There are also free outdoor activities and adrenaline-filled adventures that backpackers will enjoy.

Dunedin is very popular with the backpacker crowd. There are many hostels around town and plenty of activities that keep backpackers entertained.


Is Taupo or Dunedin Better for Students?

Taupo
Dunedin

Dunedin is a great destination for students. However, Taupo is not popular with students.

Dunedin is a very popular city for students and younger travelers. This is a large student city that is welcoming to international students and a popular place to study.

Taupo is not popular with students.

Is Taupo or Dunedin Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Taupo
Dunedin

You'll find somewhat comparable public transit options in both Taupo and Dunedin.

You'll find some public transit in Taupo, but it may not be enough to take you everywhere. There are local bus service, the Taupo Connector, that travels around the town center. If you want to get outside of town, you'll need to have a car.

While Dunedin offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. There a relatively decent bus system that travels through town.

Is Taupo or Dunedin a more walkable city?

Taupo
Dunedin

Dunedin is a great destination for its high level of walkability. Also, Taupo is still popular, but not quite as popular for its ease of walking around.

Dunedin is a very walkable city. Parts of the town are easy to explore on foot.

Taupo is a somewhat walkable town. The town is fairly compact, but if you want to efficiently get around and experience everything that the area has to offer, you'll want to have a car.


For even more information, also check out Is Taupo Worth Visiting? and Is Dunedin Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Dunedin or Taupo?

How long in Taupo or Dunedin?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Taupo and Dunedin. You can spend similar amounts of time exploring each one. In general, 2-3 days is a good amount of time for Taupo, and 1-3 days is enough time in Dunedin.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Taupo than Dunedin 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 Taupo.


  • How many days in Taupo or Dunedin? Ideal Length of Stay
    Taupo 2-3 
    Dunedin 1-3

One day in Taupo or Dunedin?

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

In Dunedin, many people enjoy the shopping and museums that this small destination offers. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Because of this, one day is usually enough time for a trip here.

A weekend in Taupo or Dunedin?

In Taupo, 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. One reason most visitors come is for the skiing. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Taupo has to offer.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Dunedin. For many, it makes a great getaway for a weekend. This would be the perfect place to spend a weekend, as it has just the right amount of activities. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.

Five days in Taupo or Dunedin?

Taupo 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.

Dunedin is a fun place to experience. Travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the destination of Dunedin. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything.


A week in Taupo or Dunedin?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Taupo. Many people enjoy the shopping and skiing when visiting Taupo. One reason most visitors come is for the skiing. 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.

You'll find food and shopping around the vibrant destination of Dunedin. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best G Adventures Tours to New Zealand, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Auckland, The Best Family-Friendly Tours to New Zealand, and The Best Wildlife Tours to New Zealand.


Which place is cheaper, Dunedin or Taupo?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Taupo is $114, while the average daily cost in Dunedin is $105. 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 Taupo and Dunedin in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Taupo $64
    Dunedin $53
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Taupo $128
    Dunedin $106
Compare Hotels in Taupo and Dunedin

Looking for a hotel in Taupo or Dunedin? 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 Taupo


Hotels in Dunedin


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: Taupo Hotel Prices and Dunedin Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Taupo $26
    Dunedin $28

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Dunedin

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Dunedin:

  • Dunedin Int Airport(DUD) to Dunedin - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $73
  • Dunedin to Dunedin Int Airport (DUD) - Departure Private Transfer: $36
  • Momona Airport: One-Way Private Transfer to Momona: $90
  • ONE WAY MOMONA: Transfer from /to Dunedin Airport: $125
  • Private Transfer from Chalmers Cruise Port to Dunedin City Hotels: $44
  • Private Transfer from Chalmers Port to Dunedin Airport (DUD): $44
  • Private Transfer from Dunedin Airport (DUD) to Chalmers Port: $44

Is it cheaper to fly into Taupo or Dunedin?

Prices for flights to both Dunedin and Taupo 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
    Taupo $24
    Dunedin $29

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Taupo $36
    Dunedin $18
Typical Entertainment Prices in Taupo

Here are a few typical costs in Taupo for activities, ticket prices, and tours that come from previous visitors:


  • Bungy Jumping
    $156
  • Jet Boating
    $58

Tours and Activities in Taupo

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

  • Taupo Self-Guided Audio Tour: $14
  • Escape Room Experience Taupo - The Candy Cottage: $23
  • Escape Room Experience Taupo - Cabin in the Woods: $23
  • Escape Room Experience Taupo - The Hunting Lodge: $23
  • Escape Room Experience Taupo - The Marvelous Circus: $23
  • Lake 1.5-Hour Maori Rock Carvings 5:00 PM Cruise: $28
  • Maori Rock Carvings Scenic Cruise: $28
  • Lake Maori Rock Carvings 8.30 AM 1.5-Hour Cruise: $30
  • Lake Māori Rock Carvings Scenic Boat Cruise: $30
  • Lake Maori Rock Carvings 10.30 AM 1.5-Hour Cruise: $30
  • Orakei Korako Geothermal Park and Cave Entry Ticket: $30
  • Self-Guided Geothermal Tour in Orakei Korako: $31

Tours and Activities in Dunedin

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

  • Dunedin Self-Guided Audio Tour: $14
  • Dunedin Self-Guided Audio Tour: $14
  • Olveston Historic Home Guided Tour: $16
  • Quickie Tours 1 Hour City Sights Tour CRUISE PASSENGERS ONLY: $25
  • Skip the Line: Larnach Castle & Gardens Admission Ticket: $28
  • Garden and City tour: $38
  • Monarch Wildlife Cruise: $39
  • Heritage Dunedin City Walking Guided Tour: $41
  • Shore Excursion: V8 Trike, Peninsula and City Tour: $50
  • Larnach Castle & Gardens Tour from Dunedin winter : $51
  • Larnach Castle & Gardens Tour from Dunedin: $51
  • Nature and City Tour: $57

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Taupo $14
    Dunedin $14
Typical Alcohol Prices in Taupo

Here are a few samples of the prices for alcohol and nightlife in Taupo from other travelers:


  • Wine
    $5.20

Sample the Local Flavors in Dunedin

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Dunedin:

  • Speight Brewery Small Group Guided Tour from Dunedin: $22
  • Emerson's Brewery Tour: $25


When comparing the travel costs between Taupo and Dunedin, we can see that Taupo 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 Taupo Expensive? and Is Dunedin Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Taupo or Dunedin?

Dunedin has a larger population, and is about 5 times larger than the population of Taupo. When comparing the sizes of Taupo and Dunedin, 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.