A Travel Price Comparison for New Zealand Taupo vs. Queenstown for Skiing, Food, Hiking, and Families

Should you visit Taupo or Queenstown?

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

Should I visit Taupo or Queenstown? 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 striking, stunning, and otherworldly town. It's a very nice small town not to be missed. It's a gorgeous place to visit. It's also known for nightlife, food, and hiking.

Queenstown

Queenstown is a bustling, active, and adventure-filled city. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. And you can't forget about the food, hiking, and shopping.

Taupo and Queenstown: 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
Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Impressive beauty


Is there more to do in Taupo or Queenstown?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Queenstown. Although Taupo and Queenstown are popular destinations, Queenstown has more sights and attractions for tourists. Queenstown is very popular for its museums, food, nightlife, hiking, shopping, and impressive beauty, while Taupo attracts visitors for its small town charm. Taupo is famous for its thermal hot springs, dramatic landscapes, and world class hikes. Queenstown is famous for its world class skiing, adrenaline-filled adventure sports, and stunning mountain scenery. It is also well known for Kawarau Bridge.

How is Taupo different from Queenstown?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Taupo or Queenstown Better for Skiing?

Taupo
Queenstown

For skiing and winter sports, both Taupo and Queenstown provide amazing options.

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.

Queenstown is among the world's best ski destinations. There are four ski areas that are near the city, and many consider these among the best ski fields in New Zealand. The ski season runs from June until October and the skiing is world class.


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

Taupo
Queenstown

Queenstown is a city with a few options for its museums and landmarks. However, Taupo is a town with minimal options for its historical sights.

Queenstown offers a handful of options for museums and historical sights. People head to this city for its amazing outdoor activities, but you won't find much if you're looking for museums. You can check out the Lakes District Museum though.

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 Queenstown? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Taupo
Queenstown

Queenstown is a must-visit destination for its restaurant scene. Also, Taupo is still popular, but not quite as popular for its local flavors and cuisine.

For foodies, Queenstown is an obvious choice, as it is one of the food capitals of the world. Located in the heart of the Otago wine region, this city has many award-winning restaurants. Local dishes, vegan cafes, and international flavors all make for a cosmopolitan and world class dining 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.

Is Taupo or Queenstown Better for Nightlife?

Taupo
Queenstown

Queenstown 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 Queenstown know how to have a good time. This cosmopolitan town has some of the best nightlife in the country. There are laid back pubs, trendy cocktail bars, and live music venues that make for a fun night out.

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 Queenstown Better for Hiking?

Taupo
Queenstown

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

People visit Queenstown specifically for its hiking, as the natural beauty is well-known. The city is ideally located near some of the country's best hiking. There are walks through beech forests, along rugged mountains, and to stunning views. Several of the Great Walks are in the area as well, but if you're looking for something a little simpler, then there are many options also.

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 Queenstown?

Taupo
Queenstown

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

Queenstown is a popular shopping destination with plenty of stores. It's a bustling city with designer brands and boutique shopping. There are also souvenir shops and retail outlets.

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 Queenstown Better for Families?

Taupo
Queenstown

Taupo is a world-class destination for its family-friendly activities. Also, Queenstown is not as famous, but is still a good city 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.

Because of its large number of kid-friendly activities, Queenstown is very family-friendly. Kids will enjoy the Queenstown cable car and the Skyline Gondola. After a ride on the gondola, you can even take the luge back down! The city also offers lake cruises, family-friendly farm tours, boat tours, and kayaking.


Is Taupo or Queenstown Better for Couples?

Taupo
Queenstown

With fun activities for couples, both Taupo and Queenstown 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, Queenstown has plenty to offer. The city is known for its adrenaline-filled adventure activities and couples who enjoy a thrill will appreciate the fun. There are also hot springs, boat cruises, and wine tours in the area. One of the most romantic activities is dinner at the Skyline.

Is Taupo or Queenstown Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Taupo
Queenstown

Taupo and Queenstown are amazing places to visit for backpackers and budget travelers.

Backpackers and budget travelers come from all over the world to visit Taupo. 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.

A large number of backpackers visit Queenstown, as it is a very popular town for budget travelers. With its thrill-seeking activities and nearby skiing, this is a great backpacker destination year round.

Is Taupo or Queenstown Better for Students?

Taupo
Queenstown

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

Queenstown is a very popular city for students and younger travelers. There are excellent universities in the area as well as fun activities and a lively energy that students enjoy.

Taupo is not popular with students.


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

Taupo
Queenstown

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

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 Queenstown offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. There's a decent bus system that travels around town.

Is Taupo or Queenstown a more walkable city?

Taupo
Queenstown

Queenstown 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.

Queenstown is a very walkable city. In town, many of the sights and activities can be reached 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 Queenstown Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Queenstown or Taupo?

How long in Taupo or Queenstown?

Both Taupo and Queenstown have a number of activities to choose from. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Queenstown than in Taupo. Usually, 2-3 days is a good amount of time for Taupo, and 2-7 days is enough time in Queenstown.

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

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


  • How many days in Taupo or Queenstown? Ideal Length of Stay
    Taupo 2-3 
    Queenstown 2-7

One day in Taupo or Queenstown?

With shopping and skiing around the stunning town of Taupo, there's plenty to do. Anyone can find something fun to do here. One of the main draws to the area is the skiing. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

In Queenstown, many people enjoy the food and shopping that this spirited destination offers. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. This city 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 Queenstown?

With skiing and nightlife around the destination of Taupo, there's plenty to do. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. It offers something for everyone. Many people spend a weekend here. One of the main draws to the area is the skiing. In a weekend, you should have a good grasp of this town.

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

Taupo, a popular town, is full of activities for travelers. 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. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Queenstown is a fun place to experience. In Queenstown, many people enjoy the skiing and nightlife that this destination offers. 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 Queenstown?

Taupo is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. One of the main draws to the area is the skiing. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

In Queenstown, many people enjoy the nightlife and food that this active destination offers. Plenty of people spend one week in the area when traveling. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. One week is often enough time to do most activities.


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, Queenstown or Taupo?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Taupo is $111, while the average daily cost in Queenstown is $104. 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 Queenstown in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Taupo $62
    Queenstown $55
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Taupo $124
    Queenstown $110
Compare Hotels in Taupo and Queenstown

Looking for a hotel in Taupo or Queenstown? 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 Queenstown


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 Queenstown Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Taupo $25
    Queenstown $10

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Queenstown

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Queenstown:

  • From Mount Cook Transfer w/ Guided Landmark Tour: $103
  • Private Transfer from Queenstown Central to Wanaka: $178
  • Private Transfer from Queenstown to Milford Sound Cruise Port: $165
  • Private Transfer from Wanaka to Queenstown Airport: $178
  • Private Transfer from Wanaka to Queenstown Central: $178
  • Private Transfers from Queenstown Airport to Wanaka : $178
  • Queenstown Airport: One-Way Private Transfer to Queenstown: $68
  • Milford Sound Cruise with Helicopter Transfer: $730
  • Tasman Glacier Helihike with Flight Transfers: $883

Is it cheaper to fly into Taupo or Queenstown?

Prices for flights to both Queenstown 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
    Queenstown $36

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Queenstown

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Queenstown.

  • Bar Crawl with 5 Free Shots and Pizza: $18
  • Dinner at Walter Peak High Country Farm and Cruise from Queenstown: $114

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Taupo $35
    Queenstown $21
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
    $152
  • Jet Boating
    $56

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: $22
  • Escape Room Experience Taupo - The Marvelous Circus: $22
  • Escape Room Experience Taupo - The Hunting Lodge: $22
  • Escape Room Experience Taupo - Cabin in the Woods: $22
  • Lake 1.5-Hour Maori Rock Carvings 5:00 PM Cruise: $26
  • Maori Rock Carvings Scenic Cruise: $27
  • Orakei Korako Geothermal Park and Cave Entry Ticket: $29
  • Lake Maori Rock Carvings 8.30 AM 1.5-Hour Cruise: $29
  • Lake Maori Rock Carvings 10.30 AM 1.5-Hour Cruise: $29
  • Lake Māori Rock Carvings Scenic Boat Cruise: $29
  • Self-Guided Geothermal Tour in Orakei Korako: $30

Typical Entertainment Prices in Queenstown

Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Queenstown are as follows:


  • Skyline Gondola (for 2)
    $30

Tours and Activities in Queenstown

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

  • Time Tripper Underwater Experience: $8.83
  • Skip the Line: Odyssey Sensory Maze Entry Queenstown Ticket: $19
  • Private Race Car Simulation Experience: $20
  • Fear Factory Haunted House Admission Ticket: $24
  • Escape Adventure AR Experience in Queenstown: $24
  • Minus 5 Ice Bar Experience with Drink Options: $25
  • Go Karts - Highlands Motorsport and Tourism Park: $30
  • Lake Wakatipu Scenic Cruise: $35
  • Million Dollar Cruise in Queenstown: $36
  • Scenic Queenstown Lake Cruise : $36
  • Kids Club Experience Including Childcare: $47
  • Guided Segway Tour: $52

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Taupo $13
    Queenstown $8.90
Typical Alcohol Prices in Taupo

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


  • Wine
    $5.05

Sample the Local Flavors in Queenstown

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Queenstown:

  • Ice Bar Crawl: $24
  • Queenstown & Gibbston Valley: Hop-On Hop-Off Wine Tours: $53
  • Hop on Hop off Wine Tours Bannockburn - departing Queenstown: $60
  • Afternoon brewery tour with lunch: $109
  • Afternoon Wine Tasting Tour with 3 Wineries: $109
  • Classic Wine Tour: $117
  • Queenstown Classic Wine Tour: 3 Vineyards, Caves and Cheeseboard: $120
  • Wine Tasting Tour: $129
  • Queenstown Wine Tour with Wine Dog | Adults Only: $130
  • The Ultimate Luxury Hop on Hop off Wine Tour: $139
  • Central Otago Wine Tour from Queenstown Including Lunch: $144
  • Gourmet Food and Wine Tour with Lunch and Wine Tastings: $170


When comparing the travel costs between Taupo and Queenstown, 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 Queenstown Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Taupo or Queenstown?

Taupo has a larger population, and is about 2 times larger than the population of Queenstown. When comparing the sizes of Taupo and Queenstown, 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.