A Travel Price Comparison for New Zealand Te Anau vs. Milford Sound for Hiking, Families, Couples, and Backpackers

Should you visit Te Anau or Milford Sound?

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

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel comparison between Te Anau and Milford Sound can help. It includes a travel cost comparison in addition to other factors. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.

Te Anau

Te Anau is a stunning, pristine, and breathtaking town. With amazing attractions and sights, it's also a fun small town not to be missed. It's considered by many to be an absolutely beautiful destination, too. It's also popular because of the food and hiking.

Milford Sound

Milford Sound is a world renowned, remote, and iconic fiord. It's considered by many to be an absolutely beautiful destination, too. Visitors also love the skiing and hiking.

Te Anau and Milford Sound: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for hiking
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Small town charm
  • Impressive beauty
Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for food


Is there more to do in Te Anau or Milford Sound?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Te Anau. Although Te Anau and Milford Sound are both popular with visitors, Te Anau has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Te Anau is more popular for its museums, food, nightlife, shopping, and small town charm, while Milford Sound is known for its skiing. Te Anau is more touristy than Milford Sound and is known for being the gateway to Fiordland National Park. It is also home to Te Anau Glowworm Caves. Milford Sound is popular for its iconic hiking trails, stunning boat tours, and dramatic mountains.

How is Te Anau different from Milford Sound?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Te Anau or Milford Sound Better for Skiing?

Te Anau
Milford Sound

Milford Sound is a very popular place for skiing and snowboarding. However, Te Anau is not a skiing destination.

Visitors travel far to experience snow skiing in Milford Sound. Many locals head to the snow-capped peaks to enjoy skiing, but if you're unfamiliar with the area, a ski tour is your best option.

Te Anau is not a skiing destination.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Te Anau or Milford Sound?

Te Anau
Milford Sound

Te Anau is a decent place to visit for its museums and history. However, Milford Sound does not have museums and landmarks.

While most people don't head to Te Anau specifically for the museums and attractions, it does offer a few options. The town is about the surrounding outdoor activities but you will find the Te Anau Vintage Machinery Museum and the Te Anau Trout Observatory in town.

Milford Sound does not have museums and landmarks.

Is the Food Better in Te Anau or Milford Sound? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Te Anau
Milford Sound

Te Anau is an excellent place to visit for its restaurants. However, Milford Sound is lacking in options for its restaurant scene.

Te Anau has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. The town makes a great spot to refuel after all of your hiking and outdoor adventures. There are plenty of cafes and food trucks around town where you can enjoy local dishes and a friendly atmosphere.

While Milford Sound is not famous for its food, you'll find what you need there. You'll find a restaurant or two in the small town of Milford Sound. Your best option is the Milford Sound Lodge. In the park you'll want to come prepared with your own food. Many organized tours include a picnic lunch.

Is Te Anau or Milford Sound Better for Nightlife?

Te Anau
Milford Sound

Te Anau is a decent place to visit for its evening party scene. However, Milford Sound is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.

Those looking for nightlife will find a few places to hang out in Te Anau. This is a small town that's focused on outdoor activities, but it does receive a number of tourists, so you'll find a few bars around town where you can hang out.

Milford Sound is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.


Is Te Anau or Milford Sound Better for Hiking?

Te Anau
Milford Sound

Both Te Anau and Milford Sound are destinations which offer fantastic hiking.

Around Te Anau visitors will find world-class hiking trails. The town serves as basecamp for Fiordland National Park so there are many amazing hikes and walks in the area. Many of the hikes begin at the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre and range in length and the required skill level.

Milford Sound is well-known for its hiking and trekking. The Milford Track has long been considered one of the world's best hikes. It's also, arguably, the most famous hike in New Zealand. The 53 kilometer trek takes you from Lake Te Anau through stunning scenery, alpine settings, and across spectacular suspension bridges.

Is the Shopping Better in Te Anau or Milford Sound?

Te Anau
Milford Sound

Te Anau is a decent place to visit for its shopping areas. However, Milford Sound is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Te Anau has some good spots for those that want to go shopping. There are shops where you can pick up any outdoor supplies and food items that you may need.

Milford Sound is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Is Te Anau or Milford Sound Better for Families?

Te Anau
Milford Sound

Te Anau is an amazing town to visit for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Milford Sound is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its family-friendly activities.

With a huge array of activities for kids, Te Anau is very family-friendly. The town's proximity to the Milford Sound make it a nice base for families who enjoy spending time outdoors. Kayaking or exploring the Te Anau Glowworm Caves are favorite activities in the area. There's also the Te Anau Bird Sanctuary and many hikes nearby.

Milford Sound is a very family-friendly place to visit. The outdoor wonders will impress the kids as much as the adults. There are shorter walks that are family-friendly and the boat rides are also fun for the whole family. You can take a scenic flight or visit the stunning Mirror Lakes. This really is a playground for both kids and adults.


Is Te Anau or Milford Sound Better for Couples?

Te Anau
Milford Sound

Te Anau is an amazing town to visit for couples. Also, Milford Sound is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for romance.

Te Anau is fantastic couple's destination with fun and romantic activities. The stunning scenery in the area, combined with small town charm, make this is a top couple's destination and a wonderful honeymoon spot. Couples who appreciate nature and outdoor adventure will fall in love with this amazing area.

Couples visit Milford Sound frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. This is one of the most stunning natural areas in the world, and the romance comes from the spectacular beauty, world class hikes, and breathtaking surroundings that will leave you awed and inspired.

Is Te Anau or Milford Sound Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Te Anau
Milford Sound

Te Anau is an excellent place to visit for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Milford Sound is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for backpackers.

Plenty of budget travelers and backpackers visit Te Anau. For such a small town, there are a decent number of hostels and budget accommodation options in the area. The town makes a good base for exploring the region's stunning scenery.

Plenty of budget travelers visit Milford Sound. The area's remoteness and high price tag make it a bit challenging for backpackers and budget travelers. If you have plenty of time and enough money, it is truly a not to be missed destination.

Is Te Anau or Milford Sound Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Te Anau
Milford Sound

Milford Sound is a decent place to visit for times when you don't have a car. However, Te Anau is lacking in good options for its public transit.

Public transit is mostly limited in Milford Sound. There are buses in the area, but private vehicles or organized tours are your best option for getting around.

Public transit is limited or non-existant in Te Anau. Public transit in the area is limited and most visitors have their own car or join one of the many tours in the area.


Is Te Anau or Milford Sound a more walkable city?

Te Anau
Milford Sound

Te Anau is a decent place to visit for its ease of walking around. However, Milford Sound is lacking in options for its walkability.

Te Anau is generally not a very walkable town. Exploring the area requires a vehicle and, while there are many hikes in the area, it's not easy to walk to many places. There are tours available for those that don't have a vehicle.

Milford Sound is not a walkable town. This is one of the most remote places in New Zealand so you really must have a car or organized transportation to get around.

For even more information, also check out Is Te Anau Worth Visiting? and Is Milford Sound Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Milford Sound or Te Anau?

How long in Te Anau or Milford Sound?

Te Anau and Milford Sound both offer a nice selection of activities for visitors. Many travelers usually spend more of their time in Milford Sound than Te Anau because of the number of activities and things to do in the area. Usually, 1-3 days is a good amount of time for Te Anau, and 2-6 days is enough time in Milford Sound.

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

Couples should spend more time in Te Anau than Milford Sound. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Te Anau that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Te Anau than Milford Sound 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 Te Anau.


  • How many days in Te Anau or Milford Sound? Ideal Length of Stay
    Te Anau 1-3 
    Milford Sound 2-6

One day in Te Anau or Milford Sound?

Even though Te Anau is a small town, it has plenty of activities to choose from. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. Don't miss the hiking, as that's what most people do. Your budget might influence how long you stay. If you enjoy all that's offered here, then one day is just the right amount of time to spend here.

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

A weekend in Te Anau or Milford Sound?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Te Anau. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. Don't miss the hiking, as that's what most people do. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do. For many, it makes a great getaway for a weekend. A weekend is usually enough time to experience most activities.

In Milford Sound, you'll find skiing. 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 hiking. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Milford Sound has to offer.


Five days in Te Anau or Milford Sound?

Te Anau is a small town, so it's a great destination if you're short on time. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. This town offers a variety of activities to choose from. 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.

Milford Sound is a great place to explore. It is common to spend five days here. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Five days is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Milford Sound has to offer. Anyone can find something fun to do here.

A week in Te Anau or Milford Sound?

Te Anau is a small town, so you can explore the area with less time. 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. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Milford Sound. Many people enjoy the skiing when visiting Milford Sound. One reason most visitors come is for the hiking. 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.


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, Milford Sound or Te Anau?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Te Anau is $100, while the average daily cost in Milford Sound is $118. 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 Te Anau and Milford Sound in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Te Anau $44
    Milford Sound $68
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Te Anau $88
    Milford Sound $136
Compare Hotels in Te Anau and Milford Sound

Looking for a hotel in Te Anau or Milford Sound? 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 Te Anau


Hotels in Milford Sound


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: Te Anau Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Te Anau $27
    Milford Sound $14

Is it cheaper to fly into Te Anau or Milford Sound?

Prices for flights to both Milford Sound and Te Anau 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
    Te Anau $27
    Milford Sound $34

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Te Anau $48
    Milford Sound $39

Tours and Activities in Te Anau

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

  • Afternoon Te Anau Cruise on Historic Motor Yacht: $91
  • Champagne Sightseeing Cruise on Lake Te Anau: $91
  • Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise from Te Anau: $218
  • Doubtful Sound Wilderness Day Cruise from Manapouri: $237
  • Full-Day Milford Sound Extraordinaire Tour from Te Anau: $156
  • Full-Day Milford Sound Tour with Cruise and Walks from Te Anau: $153
  • Guided Private Milford Sound Day Tour from Te Anau(Cruise Included): $219
  • Milford Sound Coach & Cruise Tour from Te Anau : $122
  • Milford Sound Coach and Nature Cruise with Buffet Lunch from Te Anau: $166
  • Milford Sound Coach, Cruise and Underwater Observatory with lunch ex Te Anau: $168
  • Milford Sound Full Day Tour from Te Anau with Cruise: $140
  • Milford Sound Full-Day Tour from Te Anau: $131

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Te Anau $14
    Milford Sound $13


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Te Anau and Milford Sound, we can see that Milford Sound is more expensive. And not only is Te Anau much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Te Anau would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Te Anau 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 Milford Sound would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Milford Sound than you might in Te Anau.

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


Which is Bigger, Te Anau or Milford Sound?

Te Anau has a larger population, and is about 5 times larger than the population of Milford Sound. When comparing the sizes of Te Anau and Milford Sound, 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.

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