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

Should you visit Taupo or Lake Tekapo?

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

Should I visit Taupo or Lake Tekapo? 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 nightlife, food, and hiking.

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo is a small, remote, and basic town. Don't miss this spot, as it's a charming small town with plenty of activities. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. And you can't forget about the hiking.

Taupo and Lake Tekapo: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • 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
Pros
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for food
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less popular for shopping
  • Less popular with couples
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Public transit not as usable


Is there more to do in Taupo or Lake Tekapo?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Taupo. Although Taupo and Lake Tekapo are both popular with visitors, Taupo has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Taupo is more popular for its skiing, museums, food, nightlife, and shopping, while Lake Tekapo is known for its impressive beauty. Taupo is more touristy than Lake Tekapo and is known for its thermal hot springs, dramatic landscapes, and world class hikes. It is also home to the Craters of the Moon reserve. Lake Tekapo is popular for its hot springs, remote location, and beautiful night sky.

How is Taupo different from Lake Tekapo?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Taupo or Lake Tekapo Better for Skiing?

Taupo
Lake Tekapo

Taupo is terrific for winter skiing. However, Lake Tekapo is not a skiing destination.

Taupo is a top destination for snow skiing, and it attracts visitors from around the world. 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.

Lake Tekapo is not a skiing destination.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Taupo or Lake Tekapo?

Taupo
Lake Tekapo

Taupo is not so good for its museums and landmarks. However, Lake Tekapo does not have museums and landmarks.

Taupo offers a few options for museum-goers. Stunning natural beauty and adventure-filled activities are what Taupo is all about, but you won't find much in the form of museums.

Lake Tekapo does not have museums and landmarks.

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

Taupo
Lake Tekapo

Taupo is a great destination for its restaurant scene. However, Lake Tekapo is a town with minimal options 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.

Lake Tekapo offers some easy restaurants to choose from. The town is very small with just a couple of restaurants and fast food joints.

Is Taupo or Lake Tekapo Better for Nightlife?

Taupo
Lake Tekapo

Taupo is a good destination for its evening party scene. However, Lake Tekapo is a town with minimal options for nightlife.

Taupo has an active nightlife scene for those who seek it out. 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.

The nightlife scene is quiet in Lake Tekapo This is a very small town and there isn't a real nightlife scene. The night sky is incredible though, and you should absolutely do some stargazing.


Is Taupo or Lake Tekapo Better for Hiking?

Taupo
Lake Tekapo

If you're looking to go hiking, Taupo and Lake Tekapo both have superb trails.

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 visitors go to Lake Tekapo for the hiking trails. There are many beautiful hikes in the area with some of the most popular being the Mount John Summit Track, the Richmond Trail, and Cowan's Hill Walkway.

Is the Shopping Better in Taupo or Lake Tekapo?

Taupo
Lake Tekapo

Taupo is a good destination for its shopping areas. However, Lake Tekapo is a town with minimal options for shopping.

Many visitors go to Taupo to go shopping. The lakefront town has a nice, pedestrian-friendly stretch with boutique shops, fashion outlets, and souvenir vendors.

Shopping in Lake Tekapo can be found for those interested. There are a couple of shops where you can pick up basic necessities.

Is Taupo or Lake Tekapo Better for Families?

Taupo
Lake Tekapo

Taupo is terrific for its family-friendly activities. Also, Lake Tekapo is still popular, but not quite as popular for its kid-friendly activities.

With a huge array of activities for kids, Taupo is very family-friendly. 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.

Lake Tekapo is a very family-friendly destination. Kids will enjoy a visit to Tekapo Springs, which is particularly fun in the winter months. There's snow tubing, ice skating, and, of course, the hot pools. There are also short hikes in the area like the Mount John Summit Walk. Biking, paddleboarding, and kayaking are also popular in the area.


Is Taupo or Lake Tekapo Better for Couples?

Taupo
Lake Tekapo

Taupo is terrific for couples. Also, Lake Tekapo is still popular, but not quite as popular for romance.

Taupo is fantastic couple's destination with fun and romantic activities. 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.

Lake Tekapo is a nice destination for couples. Couples will enjoy the stunning scenery, beautiful hikes, and the romantic hot springs. Stargazing is another popular activity in the area.

Is Taupo or Lake Tekapo Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Taupo
Lake Tekapo

Taupo is terrific for backpackers. Also, Lake Tekapo 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.

Plenty of budget travelers visit Lake Tekapo. It's a small town with a couple of cheap places to stay that backpackers will appreciate.

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

Taupo
Lake Tekapo

Taupo is a good destination for its public transit. However, Lake Tekapo is a town with minimal options for times when you don't have a car.

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.

Public transit is quite limited in Lake Tekapo. Public transportation in the area is very limited. If you don't have a car, you'll want to arrange tours to get out and about.


Is Taupo or Lake Tekapo a more walkable city?

Taupo
Lake Tekapo

Taupo and Lake Tekapo both are good when exploring on foot.

Taupo is a somewhat walkable place. 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.

Lake Tekapo is a somewhat walkable town. The town is small enough to get around on foot, and you can hire a tour to get out into the region.

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

Should I spend more time in Lake Tekapo or Taupo?

How long in Taupo or Lake Tekapo?

You'll be able to find lots of things to do in Taupo or Lake Tekapo to fill your time. Many travelers usually spend more of their time in Taupo than Lake Tekapo because of the number of activities and things to do in the area. Usually, 2-3 days is a good amount of time for Taupo, and 1-2 days is enough time in Lake Tekapo.

Families should spend more time in Taupo than Lake Tekapo. 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 Lake Tekapo. 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 Lake Tekapo 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 Lake Tekapo? Ideal Length of Stay
    Taupo 2-3 
    Lake Tekapo 1-2

One day in Taupo or Lake Tekapo?

Visitors enjoy the skiing and nightlife when visiting the stunning town of Taupo. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Most people visit for the skiing. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

In Lake Tekapo, many people enjoy the that this basic destination offers. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. This town 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 Lake Tekapo?

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the otherworldly destination of Taupo. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. This town offers something for everyone. Plenty of people spend a weekend in the area when traveling. If you enjoy all that's offered here, then a weekend is just the right amount of time to spend here.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Lake Tekapo. For many, it makes a great getaway for a weekend. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. 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 Lake Tekapo?

The striking town of Taupo offers food and shopping. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

Lake Tekapo is a fun place to experience. Travelers enjoy the when visiting the destination of Lake Tekapo. 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.

A week in Taupo or Lake Tekapo?

Many people enjoy the shopping and skiing when visiting Taupo. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. Most people visit for the skiing. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

You'll find around the remote destination of Lake Tekapo. Hikers are also drawn to this area. 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, Lake Tekapo or Taupo?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Taupo is $112, while the average daily cost in Lake Tekapo is $76. 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 Lake Tekapo in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Taupo $63
    Lake Tekapo $60
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Taupo $126
    Lake Tekapo $120
Compare Hotels in Taupo and Lake Tekapo

Looking for a hotel in Taupo or Lake Tekapo? 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 Lake Tekapo


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 Lake Tekapo Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Taupo $25
    Lake Tekapo -

Is it cheaper to fly into Taupo or Lake Tekapo?

Prices for flights to both Lake Tekapo 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
    Lake Tekapo $13

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Taupo $35
    Lake Tekapo -
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
    $153
  • Jet Boating
    $57

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
  • Orakei Korako Geothermal Park and Cave Entry Ticket: $30
  • Lake Maori Rock Carvings 10.30 AM 1.5-Hour Cruise: $30
  • Lake Maori Rock Carvings 8.30 AM 1.5-Hour Cruise: $30
  • Lake Māori Rock Carvings Scenic Boat Cruise: $30
  • Self-Guided Geothermal Tour in Orakei Korako: $31

Tours and Activities in Lake Tekapo

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

  • Dark Sky Indoor Cultural Astronomy Experience: $32
  • 45 Minutes Virtual Stargazing Experience in Lake Tekapo: $44
  • Chameleon Stargazing Shared Tour: $62
  • Crater Experience at Cowan's Observatory: $87
  • Summit Experience - University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory: $118
  • Mt Cook Day Tour From Tekapo (Small Group, Carbon Neutral): $153
  • Scenic 4WD Tour Lake Tekapo Backcountry: $186
  • Lake Tekapo Tour Scenic 4WD Mountains & Glaciers: $186

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Taupo $13
    Lake Tekapo -
Typical Alcohol Prices in Taupo

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


  • Wine
    $5.11


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Taupo and Lake Tekapo, we can see that Taupo is more expensive. And not only is Lake Tekapo much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Lake Tekapo would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Lake Tekapo 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 Taupo would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Taupo than you might in Lake Tekapo.

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


Which is Bigger, Taupo or Lake Tekapo?

Taupo has a larger population, and is about 70 times larger than the population of Lake Tekapo. When comparing the sizes of Taupo and Lake Tekapo, 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.