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

Should you visit Taupo or Rotorua?

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

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


Rotorua is a natural, world-renowned, and diverse town. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. And you can't forget about the hiking, shopping, and museums.

Taupo and Rotorua: 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 for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty

Is there more to do in Taupo or Rotorua?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Taupo. Although Taupo and Rotorua are both popular with visitors, Taupo has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Taupo is more popular for its skiing and small town charm, while Rotorua is known for its museums and impressive beauty. Taupo is popular for its thermal hot springs, dramatic landscapes, and world class hikes. It is also home to the Craters of the Moon reserve. Rotorua is popular for its geothermal activity, Maori cultural influence, and its role in the famous Lord of the Rings movies.

How is Taupo different from Rotorua?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Taupo or Rotorua Better for Skiing?


Taupo is an amazing town to visit for skiing and snowboarding. However, Rotorua is not a skiing destination.

Visitors will find world class skiing in Taupo. 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.

Rotorua is not a skiing destination.

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


Rotorua is a great destination for its museums and landmarks. However, Taupo is a town with minimal options for its historical sights.

Rotorua offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. The area is filled with opportunities to learn about the Maori culture. The Maori village of Whakarewarewa is a highlight and you should also visit Te Wairoa. Fans of Lord of the Rings won't want to miss Hobbiton either. Finally, Rotorua Museum well worth a visit.

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 Rotorua? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?


Both Taupo and Rotorua offer a number of excellent 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.

Rotorua has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. There's a wide selection of culinary options in the area that include steambox (food prepared with the geothermal heat), and hāngī, which is a traditional Maori cooking technique. Many restaurants also make use of the local fruit, vegetables, and meats.

Is Taupo or Rotorua Better for Nightlife?


It's hard to distinguish whether Taupo or Rotorua 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 Rotorua has a few options to choose from. You'll find the best concentration of bars and restaurants around Tutankei Street, which is often referred to as "Eat Street".

Is Taupo or Rotorua Better for Hiking?


If you're looking to go hiking, Taupo and Rotorua both have excellent 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 Rotorua for the hiking trails. The area is filled with beautiful walking trails that take you by lakes, volcanoes, and geothermal hot springs. A favorite route in the area is Tarawera Trail, which is 15 kilometers long and ends at a natural hot water beach.

Is the Shopping Better in Taupo or Rotorua?


Shopping is a popular activity in both Rotorua 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.

Rotorua has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. You'll find stores and galleries selling art and crafts around the main town center.

Is Taupo or Rotorua Better for Families?


Kids will enjoy a visit to either Taupo or Rotorua.

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.

Rotorua is one of the most popular family destinations. The geothermal activity is fascinating for kids and adults alike. There are also many activities that will teach kids about the Maori culture and for animal lovers, there are farms and wildlife tours. Lord of the Rings fans won't want to miss Hobbiton, and there are many thrilling activities in the area such as white water rafting.

Is Taupo or Rotorua Better for Couples?


With fun activities for couples, both Taupo and Rotorua make for a terrific 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, Rotorua has plenty to offer. The unique environment and beautiful natural setting make this a wonderful honeymoon destination. Couples will appreciate the geothermal activity, beautiful walking trails, and diverse outdoor activities. There's also horseback riding, hot springs, and helicopter rides.

Is Taupo or Rotorua Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?


Taupo and Rotorua are terrific 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 Rotorua, as it is a very popular town for budget travelers. Well established on the backpacker trail, there are plenty of hostels in the area and tons of activities that backpackers will enjoy.

Is Taupo or Rotorua 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 Rotorua.

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 Rotorua offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. There are buses and shuttles that travel around town and through the area.

Is Taupo or Rotorua a more walkable city?


Taupo and Rotorua 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.

Rotorua is a somewhat walkable town. The town itself is fairly walkable but if you want to get into the surrounding areas, having a vehicle provides the most flexibility.

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

Should I spend more time in Rotorua or Taupo?

How long in Taupo or Rotorua?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Taupo and Rotorua. You can spend similar amounts of time exploring each one. However, 2-3 days is a good amount of time to spend in either destination.

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

One day in Taupo or Rotorua?

In Taupo, you'll find skiing and nightlife. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. One reason most visitors come is for the skiing. This town offers something for everyone. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

In Rotorua, many people enjoy the shopping and museums that this natural 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. 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 Rotorua?

In Taupo, you'll find nightlife and food. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. A weekend here is typical. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. One reason most visitors come is for the skiing. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Taupo has to offer.

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

Taupo is a great place to explore. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. Anyone can find something fun to do here.

Rotorua is a fun place to experience. Travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the destination of Rotorua. 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 Rotorua?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Taupo. Many people enjoy the shopping and skiing when visiting Taupo. One reason most visitors come is for the skiing. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.

You'll find food and shopping around the world-renowned destination of Rotorua. 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, Rotorua 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 Rotorua is $93. 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 Rotorua in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Taupo $62
    Rotorua $48
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Taupo $124
    Rotorua $96
Compare Hotels in Taupo and Rotorua

Looking for a hotel in Taupo or Rotorua? 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 Rotorua

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 Rotorua Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Taupo $25
    Rotorua $5.01

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Rotorua

Also for Rotorua, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Rotorua to Auckland Afternoon Transfer with Waitomo Glow Worms: $181

Is it cheaper to fly into Taupo or Rotorua?

Prices for flights to both Rotorua 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
    Rotorua $29

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Rotorua

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

  • Mitai Maori Village: Cultural Experience and Dinner Buffet: $91
  • Te Pa Tu Māori Cultural Experience with Dinner: $153

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Taupo $35
    Rotorua $34
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: $30
  • Escape Room Experience Taupo - Cabin in the Woods: $22
  • Escape Room Experience Taupo - The Candy Cottage: $22
  • Escape Room Experience Taupo - The Hunting Lodge: $22
  • Escape Room Experience Taupo - The Marvelous Circus: $22
  • Great Lake Trail Lake Taupo 2-Day Mountain Biking Tour: $97
  • Hukafalls: 30-Minute Jet Boat Experience: $82
  • Lake 1.5-Hour Maori Rock Carvings 5:00 PM Cruise: $26
  • Lake Maori Rock Carvings 10.30 AM 1.5-Hour Cruise: $29
  • Lake Maori Rock Carvings 8.30 AM 1.5-Hour Cruise: $29
  • Lake Māori Rock Carvings Scenic Boat Cruise: $29
  • Maori Rock Carvings - Taupo Sailing Adventures - Kindred Spirit: $36

Typical Entertainment Prices in Rotorua

Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for Rotorua's activities, tours, and tickets:

  • Lunch Out for Two

Tours and Activities in Rotorua

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

  • Jade Carving Experience at a Local Studio: $21
  • Mountain Jade Highlights Tour: $21
  • Whaka Geothermal Trails Self-Guided Tour: $21
  • Government Gardens Walking Tour: $22
  • Geothermal Mineral Baths Experience: Pavilion Pools for 12+: $26
  • Whakarewarewa Village Guided Tour: $27
  • Geothermal Adults Only Mineral Bathing - Pavilion Pools Bathing Ticket: $27
  • Whakarewarewa Village Guided Tour: $27
  • Agrodome Farm Tour with Show and Produce Tasting: $29
  • Agrodome Farm Experience including Farm Show and Farm Tour - Rotorua: $30
  • Velocity Valley Adventure Park Experience Pass: $32
  • Velocity Valley Ticket: $33

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Taupo $13
    Rotorua $12
Typical Alcohol Prices in Taupo

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

  • Wine

Typical Alcohol Prices in Rotorua

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for alcohol and nightlife costs in Rotorua:

  • Bottle of Wine

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

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

Which is Bigger, Taupo or Rotorua?

Rotorua has a larger population, and is about 3 times larger than the population of Taupo. When comparing the sizes of Taupo and Rotorua, 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.