A Travel Price Comparison for New Zealand Tauranga vs. Aoraki Mount Cook for Hiking, Families, Couples, and Backpackers

Should you visit Tauranga or Aoraki Mount Cook?

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

Should I visit Tauranga or Aoraki Mount Cook? 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.

Tauranga

Tauranga is a coastal, laid back, and relaxing town. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. It's also popular because of the museums, nightlife, and food.

Aoraki Mount Cook

Aoraki Mount Cook is a breathtaking, world renowned, and scenic mountain. You'll find world class beauty here as well. Other popular activities here include hiking.

Tauranga and Aoraki Mount Cook: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good public transit
  • Impressive beauty
Pros
  • Good for hiking
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less family-friendly
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Public transit not as usable


Is there more to do in Tauranga or Aoraki Mount Cook?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Tauranga. Although Tauranga and Aoraki Mount Cook are popular destinations, Tauranga has more sights and attractions for tourists. Tauranga is very popular for its museums, food, nightlife, beaches, and shopping, while Aoraki Mount Cook attracts visitors for its hiking and impressive beauty. Tauranga is famous for its sandy beaches and beautiful walking trails. It is also well known for Mount Maunganui. Aoraki Mount Cook is famous for its glaciers, alpine setting, and being the highest mountain in New Zealand.

How is Tauranga different from Aoraki Mount Cook?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Tauranga or Aoraki Mount Cook?

Tauranga
Aoraki Mount Cook

Tauranga is a good destination for its historical sights. However, Aoraki Mount Cook does not have museums and landmarks.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Tauranga. There are a number of historic buildings in town like the Elms Mission Station which dates back to 1847.

Aoraki Mount Cook does not have museums and landmarks.


Is the Food Better in Tauranga or Aoraki Mount Cook? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Tauranga
Aoraki Mount Cook

Tauranga is a good destination for its local flavors and cuisine. However, Aoraki Mount Cook is not a good destination for its local cuisine and restaurants.

Tauranga is becoming an appealing option for foodies. You'll find a great mix of restaurants in the town's downtown area. There are international flavors as well as seafood and other local favorites.

Aoraki Mount Cook offers some easy restaurants to choose from. There are a few cafes and restaurants in the village, but if you're doing any hiking you should pack your own food.

Is Tauranga or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Nightlife?

Tauranga
Aoraki Mount Cook

Tauranga is a good destination for its evening party scene. However, Aoraki Mount Cook is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.

If you're looking for night time activities Tauranga has a few options to choose from. The city is known for its laid back bar scene. There are venues with casual live music as well as pubs where locals and tourists intermingle.

Aoraki Mount Cook is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.

Is Tauranga or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Beaches?

Tauranga
Aoraki Mount Cook

Tauranga is great for the beach. However, Aoraki Mount Cook is not a beach destination.

Many people visit Tauranga for it's beautiful beaches. Families and travelers head here for the sandy beaches and water activities. Surfing, kayaking, and fishing are all popular in the area. Some of the most popular beaches include Mount Maunganui Beach, Waihī Beach, and Anzac Bay.

Aoraki Mount Cook is not a beach destination.


Is Tauranga or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Hiking?

Tauranga
Aoraki Mount Cook

Aoraki Mount Cook is a world-class destination for the nearby hiking options. Also, Tauranga is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its hiking trails.

People visit Aoraki Mount Cook specifically for its hiking, as the natural beauty is well-known. There are beginner trails as well as world class routes that bring out expert climbers. As the highest peak in New Zealand, many people come here for the challenge, but if you're looking for a most simple experience, the hiking opportunities are still abundant.

Many visitors explore the nearby hiking trails while visiting Tauranga. The Bay of Plenty is filled with hiking trails that run along the coast or head inland through the mountains. There are forest and bush walks that range in length and skill level and there really is something for everyone.

Is the Shopping Better in Tauranga or Aoraki Mount Cook?

Tauranga
Aoraki Mount Cook

Tauranga is a good destination for its shopping areas. However, Aoraki Mount Cook is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Tauranga has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. You'll find all of the standard shopping malls, retail outlets, and clothing boutiques around town.

Aoraki Mount Cook is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Is Tauranga or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Families?

Tauranga
Aoraki Mount Cook

Tauranga is an unbeatable place for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Aoraki Mount Cook is not as popular, but is still a nice mountain for its family-friendly activities.

With a huge array of activities for kids, Tauranga is very family-friendly. Check out the ropes courses at Adrenalin Forest or play in the water at Waimarino Adventure Park. There are also many different walking areas like McLaren Falls Park and Kaiate Falls. Kids will love hanging out at the beach around Mount Maunganui or Papamoa Beach. This is an affordable and kid-family destination for locals and international tourists alike.

Aoraki Mount Cook is a family-friendly place to visit. There are plenty of short walks that are perfect for little legs. Kids will also enjoy the boat rides on the lakes and the area's superb stargazing.


Is Tauranga or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Couples?

Tauranga
Aoraki Mount Cook

Aoraki Mount Cook is a world-class destination for couples. Also, Tauranga is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for romance.

Aoraki Mount Cook makes for a terrific place to visit as a couple. Couples will enjoy the stunning glaciers, beautiful walks, and iconic views. Many couples take helicopter rides to fully experience the area. Stargazing and hiking is also high on the list of must-do romantic activities.

Tauranga makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. It's a romantic destination with great beaches and beautiful waterfalls. You can enjoy a picnic in the park or dine at one of the local restaurants. Kayaking is also a popular activity in the area.

Is Tauranga or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Tauranga
Aoraki Mount Cook

Tauranga is an unbeatable place for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Aoraki Mount Cook is not as popular, but is still a nice mountain for backpackers.

A large number of backpackers visit Tauranga, as it is a very popular town for budget travelers. This is one of the more affordable destinations in New Zealand. There are also a number of backpacker-friendly jobs that make it a great place to base yourself.

Plenty of budget travelers visit Aoraki Mount Cook. While many activities in the area are expensive, the hiking is world class and there are a few hostels and camping opportunities nearby.

Is Tauranga or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Tauranga
Aoraki Mount Cook

Tauranga is a good destination for times when you don't have a car. However, Aoraki Mount Cook is not a good destination for its public transit.

While Tauranga offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. There are buses, trains, and ferries in the area.

Public transit is limited or non-existant in Aoraki Mount Cook. Having a car is essential unless you take a private tour that provides transportation.


Is Tauranga or Aoraki Mount Cook a more walkable city?

Tauranga
Aoraki Mount Cook

Tauranga is a good destination for its ease of walking around. However, Aoraki Mount Cook is not a good destination for its walkability.

Tauranga is a somewhat walkable town. There are many walking and cycling paths in the area, but you really need a car to explore the area in depth.

Aoraki Mount Cook is generally not very walkable. While there are many trails through the region, you really must have a car to access the trail heads and efficiently get around.

For even more information, also check out Is Tauranga Worth Visiting? and Is Aoraki Mount Cook Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Aoraki Mount Cook or Tauranga?

How long in Tauranga or Aoraki Mount Cook?

It's fun to spend time in either Tauranga or Aoraki Mount Cook. Generally, people tend to spend more time in Aoraki Mount Cook due to the larger number of activities and things to do. Usually, 2-3 days is a good amount of time for Tauranga, and 2-4 days is enough time in Aoraki Mount Cook.

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

Couples should spend more time in Tauranga than Aoraki Mount Cook. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Tauranga that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Tauranga than Aoraki Mount Cook 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 Tauranga.


  • How many days in Tauranga or Aoraki Mount Cook? Ideal Length of Stay
    Tauranga 2-3 
    Aoraki Mount Cook 2-4

One day in Tauranga or Aoraki Mount Cook?

With shopping and museums around the destination of Tauranga, there's plenty to do. It's also a great beach destination, too. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it. It offers something for everyone.

The beautiful mountain of Aoraki Mount Cook offers . Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

A weekend in Tauranga or Aoraki Mount Cook?

With museums and nightlife around the coastal town of Tauranga, there's plenty to do. Your budget might influence how long you stay. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here.

Aoraki Mount Cook is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have a weekend, this mountain makes for a great vacation. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Aoraki Mount Cook, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.


Five days in Tauranga or Aoraki Mount Cook?

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the laid back destination of Tauranga. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days.

Aoraki Mount Cook is a popular choice for travelers. It's no surprise that hiking is why people visit. 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. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

A week in Tauranga or Aoraki Mount Cook?

Tauranga is a popular choice for travelers. Most people come for the beaches. This town offers a variety of activities to choose from. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.

Aoraki Mount Cook is a great place to explore. It's no surprise that hiking is why people visit. 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. This mountain offers something for everyone.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Adventure Tours to New Zealand, The Best Eco Tours in New Zealand, The Best Thrill-Seeking Tours in New Zealand, and The Best Romantic Tours for Couples in New Zealand.


Which place is cheaper, Aoraki Mount Cook or Tauranga?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Tauranga is $107, while the average daily cost in Aoraki Mount Cook is $109. 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 Tauranga and Aoraki Mount Cook in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Tauranga $77
    Aoraki Mount Cook $62
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Tauranga $154
    Aoraki Mount Cook $124
Compare Hotels in Tauranga and Aoraki Mount Cook

Looking for a hotel in Tauranga or Aoraki Mount Cook? 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 Tauranga


Hotels in Aoraki Mount Cook


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: Tauranga Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Tauranga $7.02
    Aoraki Mount Cook $28

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Tauranga

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Tauranga:

  • Roundtrip Transfer from Port of Tauranga Omanu Golf Club: $76

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Aoraki Mount Cook

Also for Aoraki Mount Cook, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Transfer from Dunedin City Hotels to Chalmers Cruise Port: $44

Is it cheaper to fly into Tauranga or Aoraki Mount Cook?

Prices for flights to both Aoraki Mount Cook and Tauranga 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
    Tauranga $22
    Aoraki Mount Cook $27

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Tauranga $11
    Aoraki Mount Cook $24

Tours and Activities in Tauranga

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

  • 2-Hour Tauranga & Mount Maunganui City & Scenic Local Tour: $49
  • 2hr Tauranga City Scenic History Tour: $35
  • 4hr Shore Excursion - History and Tasting Tour FREE Kiwifruit Tasting: $59
  • 4hr Tauranga Scenic History and Tasting Tour FREE Kiwifruit Tasting: $59
  • 6hr Hobbiton Movie Set Tour - Departs Tauranga: $148
  • 6hr Rotorua Geothermal Wonderland Tour - Departs Tauranga: $151
  • 7hr Waimangu Geothermal Valley & Lake Rotomahana Tour - Departs Tauranga: $145
  • Boutique tour , Mt Maunganui, NZ farm, Rotorua lakes/geothermal : $138
  • From Dolphin and Wildlife Cruise: $104
  • From Half-Day Swimming with Dolphins Tour: $92
  • Half Day Dolphin & Wildlife Cruise - Tauranga: $110
  • Half Day Dolphin Watching Cruise: $110

Tours and Activities in Aoraki Mount Cook

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Aoraki Mount Cook.

  • Fox Glacier Nature Tour: $57
  • Franz Josef Nature Tour: $57
  • Lake Matheson Nature Tour: $57
  • Mt. Cook to Queenstown Small Group Tour (1-way) : $110
  • From Christchurch: Mount Cook One-Way Discovery Tour: $122
  • Mt Cook to Christchurch 1 Way Small Group Tour, via Lake Tekapo : $126
  • Mount Cook to Queenstown Day Tour: $154
  • Day Tours from Mount Cook: $158
  • Mt Cook Small Group Tour from Queenstown with Optional Activities : $158
  • Mt Cook & Hooker Valley Hike Small Group Tour from Queenstown: $158
  • (MT) Mount Cook & Lake Tekapo Day Tour from Christchurch: $184
  • Gold Hunting Adventures: $233

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Tauranga $11
    Aoraki Mount Cook $21

Sample the Local Flavors in Aoraki Mount Cook

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Aoraki Mount Cook:

  • Kinross Winery: Classic Central Otago Wine Tasting Experience: $16
  • Kinross Winery: Wild Irishman Wine Tasting Experience: $47
  • Kinross Winery: Premium Central Otago Wine Tasting Experience: $47


When comparing the travel costs between Tauranga and Aoraki Mount Cook, we can see that Aoraki Mount Cook 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 Tauranga Expensive? and Is Aoraki Mount Cook Expensive?.