A Travel Price Comparison for New Zealand Taupo vs. Milford Sound for Skiing, Hiking, Families, and Couples

Should you visit Taupo or Milford Sound?

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

Should I visit Taupo or Milford Sound? 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. This is a charming small with plenty of activities, too. It offers plenty of beauty for visitors. It's also popular because of the nightlife, food, and hiking.

Milford Sound

Milford Sound is a remote, iconic, and breathtaking fiord. The famous beauty of this place is one of the main draws. And you can't forget about the skiing and hiking.

Taupo and Milford Sound: 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
  • Very walkable
Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for food
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in Taupo or Milford Sound?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Taupo. Although Taupo and Milford Sound are both popular with visitors, Taupo has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Taupo is more popular for its skiing, museums, food, nightlife, shopping, and small town charm, while Milford Sound is known for its hiking and impressive beauty. Taupo is more touristy than Milford Sound and is popular for its thermal hot springs, dramatic landscapes, and world class hikes. It is also home to the Craters of the Moon reserve. Milford Sound is popular for its iconic hiking trails, stunning boat tours, and dramatic mountains.

How is Taupo different from Milford Sound?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Taupo or Milford Sound Better for Skiing?

Taupo
Milford Sound

Taupo is an amazing town to visit for skiing and snowboarding. Also, Milford Sound is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for winter skiing.

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.

Milford Sound is an extremely popular place for snow skiing and other winter sports. Many locals head to the snow-capped peaks to enjoy skiing, but if you're unfamiliar with the area, a ski tour is your best option.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Taupo or Milford Sound?

Taupo
Milford Sound

Taupo is not a good area for its museums and history. However, Milford Sound does not have museums and landmarks.

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.

Milford Sound does not have museums and landmarks.

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

Taupo
Milford Sound

Taupo is an excellent place to visit for its restaurants. However, Milford Sound is lacking in options for its restaurant scene.

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

While Milford Sound is not famous for its food, you'll find what you need there. You'll find a restaurant or two in the small town of Milford Sound. Your best option is the Milford Sound Lodge. In the park you'll want to come prepared with your own food. Many organized tours include a picnic lunch.

Is Taupo or Milford Sound Better for Nightlife?

Taupo
Milford Sound

Taupo is a good destination for its evening party scene. However, Milford Sound is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Taupo. 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.

Milford Sound is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.


Is Taupo or Milford Sound Better for Hiking?

Taupo
Milford Sound

Milford Sound is a must-visit destination for its hiking experiences. Also, Taupo is still popular, but not quite as popular for hiking.

People visit Milford Sound specifically for its hiking, as the natural beauty is well-known. The Milford Track has long been considered one of the world's best hikes. It's also, arguably, the most famous hike in New Zealand. The 53 kilometer trek takes you from Lake Te Anau through stunning scenery, alpine settings, and across spectacular suspension bridges.

Many visitors go to Taupo for the hiking trails. 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.

Is the Shopping Better in Taupo or Milford Sound?

Taupo
Milford Sound

Taupo is a good destination for its shopping areas. However, Milford Sound is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

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.

Milford Sound is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Is Taupo or Milford Sound Better for Families?

Taupo
Milford Sound

Taupo is an amazing town to visit for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Milford Sound is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its family-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.

Milford Sound is a very family-friendly place to visit. The outdoor wonders will impress the kids as much as the adults. There are shorter walks that are family-friendly and the boat rides are also fun for the whole family. You can take a scenic flight or visit the stunning Mirror Lakes. This really is a playground for both kids and adults.


Is Taupo or Milford Sound Better for Couples?

Taupo
Milford Sound

Taupo is an amazing town to visit for couples. Also, Milford Sound is not quite as popular, but is fairly good 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.

Couples visit Milford Sound frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. This is one of the most stunning natural areas in the world, and the romance comes from the spectacular beauty, world class hikes, and breathtaking surroundings that will leave you awed and inspired.

Is Taupo or Milford Sound Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Taupo
Milford Sound

Taupo is an amazing town to visit for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Milford Sound is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for backpackers.

A large number of backpackers visit Taupo, as it is a very popular town for budget travelers. 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 Milford Sound. The area's remoteness and high price tag make it a bit challenging for backpackers and budget travelers. If you have plenty of time and enough money, it is truly a not to be missed destination.

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

Taupo
Milford Sound

Taupo is a good destination for times when you don't have a car. However, Milford Sound is lacking in options for its public transit.

Taupo has some public transit options. 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 generally limited in Milford Sound. There are buses in the area, but private vehicles or organized tours are your best option for getting around.


Is Taupo or Milford Sound a more walkable city?

Taupo
Milford Sound

Taupo is a good destination for its ease of walking around. However, Milford Sound is lacking in options for its walkability.

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.

Milford Sound is not a walkable town. This is one of the most remote places in New Zealand so you really must have a car or organized transportation to get around.

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

Should I spend more time in Milford Sound or Taupo?

How long in Taupo or Milford Sound?

Taupo and Milford Sound both offer a nice selection of activities for visitors. Many travelers usually spend more of their time in Milford Sound than Taupo 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 2-6 days is enough time in Milford Sound.

Families should spend more time in Taupo than Milford Sound. 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 Milford Sound. 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 Milford Sound 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 Milford Sound? Ideal Length of Stay
    Taupo 2-3 
    Milford Sound 2-6

One day in Taupo or Milford Sound?

Many travelers enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the otherworldly destination of Taupo. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. Don't miss the skiing, as that's what most people do. Your budget might influence how long you stay. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it.

In Milford Sound, many people enjoy the skiing that this remote destination offers. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. Lots of people come for the hiking. This fiord offers a variety of activities to choose from. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it.

A weekend in Taupo or Milford Sound?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Taupo. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. Don't miss the skiing, as that's what most people do. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do. For many, it makes a great getaway for a weekend. A weekend is usually enough time to experience most activities.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Milford Sound. 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 Milford Sound?

Travelers enjoy the skiing and nightlife when visiting the stunning destination of Taupo. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. This town offers a variety of activities to choose from. Five days is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips.

Milford Sound is a fun place to experience. In Milford Sound, many people enjoy the skiing that this destination offers. Lots of people come for the hiking. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. This would be the perfect place to spend five days, as it has just the right amount of activities.

A week in Taupo or Milford Sound?

You'll find nightlife and food around the town of Taupo. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.

You'll find skiing around the breathtaking destination of Milford Sound. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. Lots of people come for the hiking. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.


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


Which place is cheaper, Milford Sound 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 Milford Sound is $118. 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 Milford Sound in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Taupo $63
    Milford Sound $68
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Taupo $126
    Milford Sound $136
Compare Hotels in Taupo and Milford Sound

Looking for a hotel in Taupo or Milford Sound? 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 Milford Sound


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.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Taupo $25
    Milford Sound $14

Is it cheaper to fly into Taupo or Milford Sound?

Prices for flights to both Milford Sound 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
    Milford Sound $34

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Taupo $35
    Milford Sound $39
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:

  • Daily Scenic Maori Rock Carving Cruise Taupo: $31
  • Escape Room Experience Taupo - Cabin in the Woods: $23
  • Escape Room Experience Taupo - The Candy Cottage: $23
  • Escape Room Experience Taupo - The Hunting Lodge: $23
  • Escape Room Experience Taupo - The Marvelous Circus: $23
  • From Rotorua: Lake Taupo and Orakei Korako or Waiotapu Tour: $150
  • Great Lake Trail Lake Taupo 2-Day Mountain Biking Tour: $100
  • Huka River Trail Guided geothermal E-bike Tour: $183
  • Hukafalls: 30-Minute Jet Boat Experience: $85
  • Lake 1.5-Hour Maori Rock Carvings 5:00 PM Cruise: $28
  • Lake Maori Rock Carvings 10.30 AM 1.5-Hour Cruise: $30
  • Lake Maori Rock Carvings 8.30 AM 1.5-Hour Cruise: $30

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Taupo $13
    Milford Sound $13
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 comparing the travel costs between Taupo and Milford Sound, we can see that Milford Sound 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 Milford Sound Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Taupo or Milford Sound?

Taupo has a larger population, and is about 50 times larger than the population of Milford Sound. When comparing the sizes of Taupo and Milford Sound, 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.