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

Should you visit Taupo or Picton?

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

Should I visit Taupo or Picton? 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 otherworldly, striking, and stunning town. It's a very nice small town not to be missed. It offers plenty of beauty for visitors. Other popular activities here include nightlife, food, and hiking.


Picton is a relaxing, picturesque, and scenic town. Don't miss this spot, as it's a charming small town with plenty of activities. And you can't forget about the hiking, shopping, and museums.

Taupo and Picton: 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
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for nightlife

Is there more to do in Taupo or Picton?

Both Picton 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, nightlife, and impressive beauty, while Picton is known for its museums and beaches. Taupo is popular for its thermal hot springs, dramatic landscapes, and world class hikes. Picton is popular for its picturesque scenery, laid back setting, and beautiful walking trails.

How is Taupo different from Picton?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Taupo or Picton Better for Skiing?


Taupo is very popular for snow skiing. However, Picton 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.

Picton is not a skiing destination.

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


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

Picton offers a variety of museums and landmarks to choose from. There are a few local museums around town that are fun to visit with the weather isn't cooperating. Edwin Fox Ship is the world's oldest merchant ship. You can also learn about the town's whaling past at the Picton Heritage and Whaling 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 Picton? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?


Both Taupo and Picton 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.

Picton has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. The town is filled with restaurants that stay true to New Zealand's culinary traditions. Mussels and salmon are common on menus, and there are many bakeries and waterfront cafes to try.

Is Taupo or Picton Better for Nightlife?


Taupo is a good destination for its evening party scene. However, Picton is not a good town for nightlife.

There's a variety of activities in the evening 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.

Those looking for nightlife will find a few places to hang out in Picton. It's a small town with a quiet and calm atmosphere.

Is Taupo or Picton Better for Beaches?


Picton is a great destination for the beache. However, Taupo is not a beach destination.

Picton is considered a top beach destination. There are four beaches in the area. Picton Beach is by the town center and near many restaurants and cafes. About a ten minute walk from town is Shelley Beach and if you're up for more walking, Bob's Bay is secluded and nice. If you have a car you can make it to Governer's Bay.

Taupo is not a beach destination.

Is Taupo or Picton Better for Hiking?


If you're looking to go hiking, Taupo and Picton 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 Picton for the hiking trails. There are many nice walking paths in the area and this is a great way to explore, reach beaches, and see the surrounding landscapes. If you're up for a longer trip, Queen Charlotte Track is a popular trail.

Is the Shopping Better in Taupo or Picton?


Shopping is a popular activity in both Picton 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.

Picton has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. There are a few galleries and local shops around town.

Is Taupo or Picton Better for Families?


Taupo is very popular for its family-friendly activities. Also, Picton is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit 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.

Picton is a very family-friendly destination. Kids will enjoy taking a boat cruise to Motuara Island. You can see dolphins, birds, and other wildlife. There are also wildlife centers in the area, family-friendly walking trails, museums, aquariums, and kayaking opportunities.

Is Taupo or Picton Better for Couples?


Taupo is very popular for couples. Also, Picton is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit 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.

Picton makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. There are romantic and quaint bed and breakfasts, beautiful walking paths, wildlife encounters, and many more fun activities for couples. Kayak trips, vineyard tours, and local spas make this a great couple's getaway destination.

Is Taupo or Picton Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?


Taupo is very popular for backpackers. Also, Picton is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit 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.

Picton is very popular with the backpacker crowd. There are plenty of hostels in the area as well as great transportation links, making this a great spot for backpackers.

Is Taupo or Picton 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 Picton.

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 Picton offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. There are water taxis but no buses around town.

Is Taupo or Picton a more walkable city?


Picton 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.

Picton is a very walkable town. It's a quaint and compact town that's 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 Picton Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Picton or Taupo?

How long in Taupo or Picton?

You'll be able to find lots of things to do in Taupo or Picton to fill your time. Many travelers usually spend more of their time in Taupo than Picton 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 Picton.

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

One day in Taupo or Picton?

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 Picton, many people enjoy the food and shopping that this relaxing destination offers. It's also a great beach destination, too. 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 Picton?

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 Picton. 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 Picton?

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.

Picton is a fun place to experience. Travelers enjoy the museums and food when visiting the destination of Picton. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything.

A week in Taupo or Picton?

Travelers enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the otherworldly 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 food and shopping around the scenic destination of Picton. Most people come for the beaches. 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 Tours for Seniors to New Zealand, The Best Contiki Tours 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, Picton 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 Picton is $90. 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 Picton in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Taupo $64
    Picton $38
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Taupo $128
    Picton $76
Compare Hotels in Taupo and Picton

Looking for a hotel in Taupo or Picton? 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 Picton

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 Picton Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Taupo $26
    Picton -

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Picton

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Picton:

  • Private Transfer from Blenheim Airport (BHE) to Picton Port: $47
  • Private Transfer from Blenheim city hotels to Picton Cruise Port: $39
  • Private Transfer from Picton Cruise Port to Blenheim City Hotels: $39
  • Private Transfer from Picton Port to Blenheim Airport (BHE): $47

Is it cheaper to fly into Taupo or Picton?

Prices for flights to both Picton 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
    Picton $20

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Taupo $36
    Picton $113
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:

  • Escape Room Experience Taupo - The Marvelous Circus: $23
  • Escape Room Experience Taupo - Cabin in the Woods: $23
  • Escape Room Experience Taupo - The Hunting Lodge: $23
  • Escape Room Experience Taupo - The Candy Cottage: $23
  • Maori Rock Carvings Scenic Cruise: $28
  • Self-Guided Geothermal Tour in Orakei Korako: $31
  • Daily Scenic Maori Rock Carving Cruise Taupo: $31
  • Maori Rock Carvings - Taupo Sailing Adventures - Kindred Spirit: $37
  • Maori Rock Carvings - Taupo Sailing Adventures -Tiua: $49
  • Great Lake Trail Lake Taupo 2-Day Mountain Biking Tour: $100

Tours and Activities in Picton

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

  • Picton Self-Guided Audio Tour: $14
  • Discover Self-Guided Audio Tour: $15
  • Skip the Line: Dangerous Skies WWII Exhibition - Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre: $16
  • Hinterland Cycling Tour, Havelock: $25
  • Skip the Line:WWI & WWII Combo Exhibitions at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre: $31
  • Winery Express Tour: $41
  • Queen Charlotte Sounds Sightseeing Cruise: $43
  • Kayaking Mangrove Adventure at Havelock: $56
  • CRUISE SHIP DAY Marlborough Hop On Hop Off Tours: $62
  • Half-Day Cruise in Marlborough Sounds from Picton: $63
  • Queen Charlotte Track: Cruise & Self-Guided Hike from Picton: $65
  • Marlborough Sounds and Ship Cove Cruise from Picton: $65

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Taupo $14
    Picton $36
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 Picton

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

  • Self-Guided Biking Wine Tour (full day) in the Marlborough Region.: $37
  • Self-Guided Wine Tours by Bike with Steve & Jo in Marlborough : $44
  • Marlborough: Hop On Hop Off Wine, Brewery, and Wonders Tour: $55
  • Hop on Hop off Wine Tours Marlborough: $56
  • Marlborough Afternoon Wine Tour with Tastings: $72
  • Half-Day Wine Tour from Picton: $90
  • Half-Day Wine Tour from Blenheim: $91
  • Morning Guided with Afternoon Self-Guided Biking Wine Tour: $94
  • Discover Marlborough Wine - Afternoon Marlborough Wine Tour : $100
  • Marlborough Discovery Sampler Wine Tour - 1/2Day Blenheim: $100
  • Taste the Valley Wine Tour in Marlborough with Wine Tasting: $103
  • Half-Day Marlborough Wine Tour & Beer Tour : $112

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

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

Which is Bigger, Taupo or Picton?

Taupo has a larger population, and is about 7 times larger than the population of Picton. When comparing the sizes of Taupo and Picton, 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.