A Travel Price Comparison for New Zealand Tauranga vs. Rotorua for Families, Couples, Backpackers, and Attractions

Should you visit Tauranga or Rotorua?

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

Should I visit Tauranga 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.

Tauranga

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

Rotorua

Rotorua is a diverse, cultural, and natural town. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. Other popular activities here include hiking, shopping, and museums.

Tauranga and Rotorua: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Pros
  • 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 Tauranga or Rotorua?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Tauranga than Rotorua. It is bigger and it has more sights, attractions, and activities for travelers. Tauranga is very popular for its beaches, while Rotorua attracts visitors for its museums and food. Tauranga is famous for its sandy beaches and beautiful walking trails. It is also well known for Mount Maunganui. Rotorua is famous for its geothermal activity, Maori cultural influence, and its role in the famous Lord of the Rings movies.

How is Tauranga different from Rotorua?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Rotorua 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 Rotorua?

Tauranga
Rotorua

Rotorua is a well-known place for its sights and museums. Also, Tauranga is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its museums and history.

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.

Tauranga is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. There are a number of historic buildings in town like the Elms Mission Station which dates back to 1847.


Is the Food Better in Tauranga or Rotorua? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Tauranga
Rotorua

Rotorua is a well-known place for its local cuisine and restaurants. Also, Tauranga is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its restaurants.

Dining out in Rotorua is an experience not to be missed. 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.

There are plenty of up and coming restaurants around Tauranga. 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.

Is Tauranga or Rotorua Better for Nightlife?

Tauranga
Rotorua

Both Tauranga and Rotorua are nice when it comes to partying.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in Tauranga. 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.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Rotorua. You'll find the best concentration of bars and restaurants around Tutankei Street, which is often referred to as "Eat Street".

Is Tauranga or Rotorua Better for Beaches?

Tauranga
Rotorua

Tauranga is an excellent place to visit for the beach. However, Rotorua is not a beach destination.

The beaches at Tauranga attract visitors from all over. 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.

Rotorua is not a beach destination.


Is Tauranga or Rotorua Better for Hiking?

Tauranga
Rotorua

If you're looking to go hiking, Tauranga and Rotorua both have excellent trails.

Tauranga is a popular spot for hiking. 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.

Many visitors explore the nearby hiking trails while visiting Rotorua. 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 Tauranga or Rotorua?

Tauranga
Rotorua

Both Tauranga and Rotorua are nice shopping destinations.

Many visitors go to Tauranga to go shopping. You'll find all of the standard shopping malls, retail outlets, and clothing boutiques around town.

Plenty of visitors enjoy shopping while in Rotorua. You'll find stores and galleries selling art and crafts around the main town center.

Is Tauranga or Rotorua Better for Families?

Tauranga
Rotorua

Kids will enjoy a visit to either Tauranga or Rotorua.

As it has a large number of activities for kids, Tauranga is a very family-friendly destination. 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.

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 Tauranga or Rotorua Better for Couples?

Tauranga
Rotorua

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

Rotorua makes for a terrific place to visit as a couple. 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.

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 Rotorua Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Tauranga
Rotorua

Both Tauranga and Rotorua are terrific destinations for backpackers.

Tauranga is a very popular town to visit for backpackers. 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.

Many backpackers frequent Rotorua. Well established on the backpacker trail, there are plenty of hostels in the area and tons of activities that backpackers will enjoy.

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

Tauranga
Rotorua

Both Tauranga and Rotorua offer nice public transit options.

Tauranga has a few public transit options. There are buses, trains, and ferries in the area.

Rotorua has some public transit options. There are buses and shuttles that travel around town and through the area.


Is Tauranga or Rotorua a more walkable city?

Tauranga
Rotorua

Tauranga and Rotorua both are nice when exploring on foot.

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.

Rotorua is somewhat walkable. 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 Tauranga Worth Visiting? and Is Rotorua Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Rotorua or Tauranga?

How long in Tauranga or Rotorua?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Tauranga and Rotorua. In our opinion, Rotorua has more to see and do, so we recommend spending more time in Rotorua than Tauranga. However, 2-3 days is a good amount of time to spend in either destination.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Rotorua than Tauranga 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 Rotorua.


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

One day in Tauranga or Rotorua?

In Tauranga, you'll find nightlife and food. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. This town offers something for everyone. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

The beautiful town of Rotorua offers food and shopping. 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 Rotorua?

In Tauranga, you'll find food and shopping. 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. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Tauranga has to offer.

Rotorua is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have a weekend, this town 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 Rotorua, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.


Five days in Tauranga or Rotorua?

Tauranga is a great place to explore. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the 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 popular choice for travelers. 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 Rotorua?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Tauranga. Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Tauranga. People usually spend lots of time at the beach. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.

Rotorua is a great place to explore. 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 town 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, Rotorua 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 Rotorua is $97. 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 Rotorua in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Tauranga $77
    Rotorua $50
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Tauranga $154
    Rotorua $100
Compare Hotels in Tauranga and Rotorua

Looking for a hotel in Tauranga 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 Tauranga


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: Tauranga Hotel Prices and Rotorua Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Tauranga $7.02
    Rotorua $5.19

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Tauranga

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Tauranga:

  • Roundtrip Transfer from Port of Tauranga Omanu Golf Club: $76
  • Private Transfer from Tauranga Port to Auckland Airport (AKL): $146

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: $185

Is it cheaper to fly into Tauranga or Rotorua?

Prices for flights to both Rotorua 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
    Rotorua $30

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: $95
  • Te Pa Tu Māori Cultural Experience with Dinner: $160

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Tauranga $11
    Rotorua $35

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: $147
  • 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
  • Guided Māori History and Culture Tour to Rotorua and Tauranga: $138
  • Half Day Dolphin & Wildlife Cruise - Tauranga: $110

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
    $28

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: $22
  • Whaka Geothermal Trails Self-Guided Tour: $22
  • Mountain Jade Highlights Tour: $22
  • Geothermal Mineral Baths Experience: Pavilion Pools for 12+: $28
  • Whakarewarewa Village Guided Tour: $28
  • Geothermal Adults Only Mineral Bathing - Pavilion Pools Bathing Ticket: $28
  • Whakarewarewa Village Guided Tour: $28
  • Waimangu Volcanic Valley Entry Ticket: $28
  • Agrodome Farm Tour with Show and Produce Tasting: $30
  • Agrodome Farm Experience including Farm Show and Farm Tour - Rotorua: $31
  • The National Kiwi Hatchery Tour: $36
  • National Kiwi Hatchery - Kiwi Encounter Tour: $38

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Tauranga $11
    Rotorua $12

Typical Alcohol Prices in Rotorua

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


  • Bottle of Wine
    $12


When comparing the travel costs between Tauranga and Rotorua, we can see that Tauranga 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 Rotorua Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Tauranga or Rotorua?

Tauranga has a larger population, and is about 67% larger than the population of Rotorua. When comparing the sizes of Tauranga 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.