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

Should you visit Taupo or Paihia?

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

Should I visit Taupo or Paihia? 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 is a stunning, otherworldly, and striking town. This is a charming small with plenty of activities, too. It's a beautiful place to visit, too. Visitors also love the nightlife, food, and hiking.


Paihia is a relaxing, fun-filled, and beautiful coastal town. And you can't forget about the beaches, hiking, and shopping.

Taupo and Paihia: Pros and Cons

  • 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
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers

Is there more to do in Taupo or Paihia?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Paihia than Taupo, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Paihia is better known for its museums, scuba diving & snorkeling, and beaches, while Taupo is more popular for its skiing, small town charm, and impressive beauty. Paihia is more touristy than Taupo and is popular for its warm year round climate, impressive beaches, and world class snorkeling and scuba diving. Also, Paihia is famous for the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Taupo is well known for its thermal hot springs, dramatic landscapes, and world class hikes.

How is Taupo different from Paihia?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Taupo or Paihia Better for Skiing?


Taupo is a must-visit destination for skiing and snowboarding. However, Paihia 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.

Paihia is not a skiing destination.

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


Paihia is a popular place for its museums and landmarks. However, Taupo is a town with minimal options for its historical sights.

Paihia offers a variety of museums and landmarks to choose from. There are some interesting cultural sights in the area like the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and the Museum of Waitangi.

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 Paihia? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?


Both Taupo and Paihia offer a number of superb restaurants to choose from.

Eating is part of the travel experience when you visit Taupo. 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.

Paihia has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. Local seafood, regional produce, and fresh ingredients make dining in the area a rewarding experience. You'll find fine dining restaurants, pizzerias, and local cafes to choose from.

Is Taupo or Paihia Better for Nightlife?


It's hard to distinguish whether Taupo or Paihia has a better nightlife scene.

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.

If you're looking for night time activities Paihia has a few options to choose from. As a holiday spot, there are a number of clubs and bars that cater to tourists in the area.

Is Taupo or Paihia Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?


Paihia is a great destination for its diving and snorkeling. However, Taupo is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Many visitors partake in scuba diving or snorkeing while visiting Paihia. There are scuba diving and snorkel shops available around town where you can organize trips and excursions to experience the undersea world.

Taupo is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is Taupo or Paihia Better for Beaches?


Paihia is a must-visit destination for the beache. However, Taupo is not a beach destination.

Travelers come from around the world to visit the beaches in Paihia. There are stunning beaches both in Paihia and throughout the Bay of Islands. Paihia Beach is in town. It's small but nice and makes a great picnic spot. For a more secluded spot head to Matauri Bay Beach or Takou Bay.

Taupo is not a beach destination.

Is Taupo or Paihia Better for Hiking?


If you're looking to go hiking, Taupo and Paihia 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 Paihia for the hiking trails. The Bay of Islands is filled with coastal walks and peaceful hikes. This is a great way to soak up the area's atmosphere and take in some spectacular views.

Is the Shopping Better in Taupo or Paihia?


Shopping is a popular activity in both Paihia and Taupo.

Taupo offers some nice shopping areas. The lakefront town has a nice, pedestrian-friendly stretch with boutique shops, fashion outlets, and souvenir vendors.

Paihia has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. There are plenty of retail stores around town where you can pick up clothes or enjoy some souvenir shopping.

Is Taupo or Paihia Better for Families?


Kids will enjoy a visit to either Taupo or Paihia.

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.

Paihia is one of the most popular family destinations. Beaches, dolphin spotting, ice cream, and chocolate factories make the Bay of Islands the perfect place for a family vacation. There are amazing walking trails like the Manginangina Kauri Walk and opportunities to learn about the Maori culture. There are also adventure spots and great beaches.

Is Taupo or Paihia Better for Couples?


With fun activities for couples, both Taupo and Paihia make for a amazing place to visit.

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.

For those traveling as a couple, Paihia has plenty to offer. You can enjoy sunset boat cruises, sip wine with a waterfront view, or walk through pristine natural areas. For thrill seekers there are adrenaline filled activities like parasailing or scuba diving.

Is Taupo or Paihia Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?


Taupo is a must-visit destination for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Paihia is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for backpackers.

With so many budget-friendly offerings, Taupo is extremely popular 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.

Paihia is a very popular town for backpackers and budget travelers. There are a handful of hostels around town as well as many great activities for backpackers like scuba diving or parasailing.

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


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

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 Paihia offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. There are ferries and some intercity buses through the Bay of Islands.

Is Taupo or Paihia a more walkable city?


Taupo and Paihia both are notable 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.

Paihia is a somewhat walkable town. It's possible to explore parts of the town on foot.

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

Should I spend more time in Paihia or Taupo?

How long in Taupo or Paihia?

In either Taupo or Paihia, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in Paihia than Taupo because of the overall number of sights and activities. Usually, 2-3 days is a good amount of time for Taupo, and 3-5 days is enough time in Paihia.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Taupo than Paihia 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 Paihia? Ideal Length of Stay
    Taupo 2-3 
    Paihia 3-5

One day in Taupo or Paihia?

Many travelers enjoy the shopping and skiing when visiting the destination of Taupo. Hikers are also drawn to this area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

In Paihia, many people enjoy the food and scuba diving and snorkeling that this fun-filled destination offers. It's also a great beach destination, too. Lots of people come for the beaches. This coastal town 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 Paihia?

Taupo is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. Don't miss the skiing, as that's what most people do. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Paihia. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. A weekend is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.

Five days in Taupo or Paihia?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Taupo. Don't miss the skiing, as that's what most people do. 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. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Paihia is a fun place to experience. In Paihia, many people enjoy the shopping and museums that this destination offers. Lots of people come for the beaches. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. This would be the perfect place to spend five days, as it has just the right amount of activities.

A week in Taupo or Paihia?

Travelers enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the striking destination of Taupo. This town offers a variety of activities to choose from. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

You'll find museums and nightlife around the relaxing destination of Paihia. Most people come for the beaches. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. Lots of people come for the beaches. 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, Paihia or Taupo?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Taupo is $115, while the average daily cost in Paihia is $82. 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 Paihia in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Taupo $64
    Paihia $35
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Taupo $128
    Paihia $70
Compare Hotels in Taupo and Paihia

Looking for a hotel in Taupo or Paihia? 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 Paihia

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 Paihia Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Taupo $26
    Paihia $12

Is it cheaper to fly into Taupo or Paihia?

Prices for flights to both Paihia 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 Meals for one day
    Taupo $24
    Paihia $29

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Paihia

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

  • Private Modern Vegetarian Cooking Class with Anna in Northland: $195

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Taupo $36
    Paihia $36
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
  • Jet Boating

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
  • 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
  • Lake Māori Rock Carvings Scenic Boat Cruise: $30

Tours and Activities in Paihia

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

  • Bay of Islands 2-Hour Sundowner Evening Sailing Cruise: $49
  • Sundowner Evening Cruise - 2 hour evening sailing cruise with swim stop: $50
  • Bay of Islands 30-minute Adventure Jet Boat Trip: $54
  • Bay of Islands: Late Afternoon Sailing Cruise: $61
  • Glass Bottom Boat Tour to the Hole in the Rock: $70
  • Parasailing Adventure Over the Bay of Islands: $72
  • Hole in the Rock Tour & Bay of Islands Cruise: $76
  • Bay of Islands: 4.5 Hour Day Cruise and Island Getaway Tour: $76
  • From Scenic Cruise with Roberton Island Stopover: $76
  • Paihia/Russell: Hole in the Rock & Bay of Islands Cruise: $76
  • Day Cruise & Island Tour - Snorkel/Wildlife/Paddleboard/Islands: $78
  • 3 Hours // Hole in the Rock Cruise & Island Stopover: $78

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Taupo $14
    Paihia $23
Typical Alcohol Prices in Taupo

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

  • Wine

Sample the Local Flavors in Paihia

Also in Paihia, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Bay of Islands Wine Tour with Lunch: $110

When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Taupo and Paihia, we can see that Taupo is more expensive. And not only is Paihia much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Paihia would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Paihia 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 Paihia.

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

Which is Bigger, Taupo or Paihia?

Taupo has a larger population, and is about 10 times larger than the population of Paihia. When comparing the sizes of Taupo and Paihia, 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.