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

Should you visit Wellington or Aoraki Mount Cook?

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

Should I visit Wellington 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.

Wellington

Wellington is a laid-back, funky, and compact city. It's also popular because of the museums, nightlife, and food.

Aoraki Mount Cook

Aoraki Mount Cook is a world renowned, scenic, and dramatic mountain. It's considered by many to be an absolutely beautiful destination, too. Visitors also love the hiking.

Wellington and Aoraki Mount Cook: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Good public transit
  • Very walkable
Things to Consider
  • Less hiking options
  • Less popular with couples
Pros
  • 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
  • Public transit not as usable
  • Less walkable


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

Tourists will generally find more to do in Wellington. Although Wellington and Aoraki Mount Cook are both popular with visitors, Wellington has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Wellington is more popular for its museums, food, nightlife, beaches, and shopping, while Aoraki Mount Cook is known for its hiking and impressive beauty. Wellington is popular for its waterfront promenade, quirky cafe culture, and relaxing beaches. It is also home to Zealandia Ecosanctuary. Aoraki Mount Cook is popular for its glaciers, alpine setting, and being the highest mountain in New Zealand.

How is Wellington 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 Wellington. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

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

Wellington
Aoraki Mount Cook

Wellington 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 Wellington. As the capital city, you'll find a number of museums and sights around town. Check out the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, the Beehive, the Wellington Museum, and the City Gallery.

Aoraki Mount Cook does not have museums and landmarks.


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

Wellington
Aoraki Mount Cook

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

Wellington has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. There are waterfront restaurants and a vibrant cafe scene around town. You'll also find local markets and many diverse eateries that you can explore.

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 Wellington or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Nightlife?

Wellington
Aoraki Mount Cook

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

Many people head to Wellington for the nightlife scene. The best nightlife scene is found along Courtenay Place. There you'll find nightclubs, pubs, and cocktail bars. Cuba Street is another fun area with a bit more of a local vibe, and the waterfront is another great nightlife district in the city.

Aoraki Mount Cook is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.

Is Wellington or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Beaches?

Wellington
Aoraki Mount Cook

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

Many people visit Wellington for it's beautiful beaches. There are nice beaches within walking distance of the city center. There are also beaches that are well worth the drive if you're looking to get a bit out of town. In the summer months, there are swimming beaches, and year around they have nice views and a good atmosphere.

Aoraki Mount Cook is not a beach destination.


Is Wellington or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Hiking?

Wellington
Aoraki Mount Cook

Aoraki Mount Cook is a must-visit destination for its hiking trails. Also, Wellington is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its hiking experiences.

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 people include a hike when visiting Wellington. The area has rolling hills and beautiful coastlines that are filled with walking trails and scenic views. Some of the more popular trails in the area are the Red Rocks walk and the City-to-Sea walk.

Is the Shopping Better in Wellington or Aoraki Mount Cook?

Wellington
Aoraki Mount Cook

Wellington is great for its shopping areas. However, Aoraki Mount Cook is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Many visitors explore the shopping areas in Wellington. For the city's best shopping, head to the "Golden Mile". This is the area defined by Lambton Quay, Willis Street, Manners Street and Courtenay Place. There are boutique designers and high end fashion outlets throughout the area. The city also has many great markets and local shopping areas.

Aoraki Mount Cook is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Is Wellington or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Families?

Wellington
Aoraki Mount Cook

Wellington is great for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Aoraki Mount Cook is not as popular, but is still a nice mountain for its family-friendly activities.

You'll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in Wellington. There's the Wellington Zoo as well as Island Bay Marine Education Centre, both of which are great for animal-lovers. Waitangi Park is a nice park where kids can run around and play, and if you're looking for something indoors, head to the Space Place at Carter Observatory. If everyone needs some down time, there's always the beach with is fun to hang out at.

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 Wellington or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Couples?

Wellington
Aoraki Mount Cook

Aoraki Mount Cook is a must-visit destination for its romantic activities. Also, Wellington is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for couples.

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.

Wellington is a good city for couples to visit. The botanical gardens are beautiful to explore, and there is also a bird sanctuary in the area as well. Couple's will also enjoy the many nice restaurants and beautiful outdoor space around town.

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

Wellington
Aoraki Mount Cook

Wellington is great for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Aoraki Mount Cook is not as popular, but is still a nice mountain for backpackers.

Plenty of budget travelers and backpackers visit Wellington. Located on the south side of the North Island, many backpackers use this city as a gateway to the South Island. There are many hostels around town and other fellow backpackers to hang out with.

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 Wellington or Aoraki Mount Cook Better for Students?

Wellington
Aoraki Mount Cook

Wellington is a good destination for its student-friendly activities. However, Aoraki Mount Cook is not popular with students.

It's common for students to visit Wellington. The locals are friendly and welcoming, and the atmosphere is a nice setting for students.

Aoraki Mount Cook is not popular with students.


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

Wellington
Aoraki Mount Cook

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

Wellington offers a very effecient public transportation network. There are city buses, trains, and ferries that are popular with tourists and locals alike.

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 Wellington or Aoraki Mount Cook a more walkable city?

Wellington
Aoraki Mount Cook

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

Wellington is a very walkable destination. This is one of New Zealand's most walkable cities and it has a compact city center.

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 Wellington Worth Visiting? and Is Aoraki Mount Cook Worth Visiting?.

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

How long in Wellington or Aoraki Mount Cook?

It's fun to spend time in either Wellington 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 Wellington, and 2-4 days is enough time in Aoraki Mount Cook.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Wellington 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 Wellington.


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

One day in Wellington or Aoraki Mount Cook?

With shopping and museums around the destination of Wellington, 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.

With around the breathtaking mountain of Aoraki Mount Cook, there's plenty to do. Anyone can find something fun to do here. One of the main draws to the area is the hiking. 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.


A weekend in Wellington or Aoraki Mount Cook?

With museums and nightlife around the funky city of Wellington, there's plenty to do. Your budget might influence how long you stay. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here.

With around the destination of Aoraki Mount Cook, 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 hiking. In a weekend, you should have a good grasp of this mountain.

Five days in Wellington or Aoraki Mount Cook?

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the laid-back destination of Wellington. 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, a popular mountain, 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.

A week in Wellington or Aoraki Mount Cook?

Wellington is a popular choice for travelers. Most people come for the beaches. This city 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 popular place that is full of things to see and experience. One of the main draws to the area is the hiking. 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.


Which place is cheaper, Aoraki Mount Cook or Wellington?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Wellington is $107, while the average daily cost in Aoraki Mount Cook is $110. 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 Wellington and Aoraki Mount Cook in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Wellington $63
    Aoraki Mount Cook $62
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Wellington $126
    Aoraki Mount Cook $124
Compare Hotels in Wellington and Aoraki Mount Cook

Looking for a hotel in Wellington 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 Wellington


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: Wellington Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Wellington $12
    Aoraki Mount Cook $28

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Wellington

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

  • Wētā Workshop Experience with Guided Transfers: $58
  • Wellington Airport(WLG) to Wellington-Round-Trip Private Transfer: $57
  • Wellington Airport (WLG) to Wellington - Arrival Private Transfer: $29
  • Wellington to Wellington Airport(WLG)-Departure Private Transfer: $29
  • Private Transfer from Wellington Port to Wellington Airport (WLG): $26
  • Private Transfer from Wellington hotels to Wellington Cruise Port: $26
  • Private Transfer from Wellington Cruise Port to Wellington Hotels: $26
  • Departure Transfer: Wellington Central City Centre Hotels to Wellington Airport: $14
  • Arrival Transfer: Wellington Airport to Central Wellington City Centre Hotels: $14
  • Private Transfer from Wellington Airport (WLG) to Wellington Port: $11

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 Wellington or Aoraki Mount Cook?

Prices for flights to both Aoraki Mount Cook and Wellington 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
    Wellington $31
    Aoraki Mount Cook $28
Typical Food Prices in Wellington

For Wellington, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:


  • Dinner
    $9.28

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Wellington

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

  • Walking Food Tour Of Wellington: $158
  • Full Day Wellington Food Tour: $252

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Wellington $17
    Aoraki Mount Cook $24

Tours and Activities in Wellington

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

  • 30 Mins Lamborghini Supercar Passenger Experience: $101
  • 5 hour Martinborough Bespoke Food & Wine shared tour with lunch: $127
  • 5 hour Wellington City Heights Shared tour: $76
  • 7-Hour Private Scenic Kapiti Coast Tour from Wellington: $252
  • From Cave to Coast Wellington Highlights Tour: $117
  • From Source to Sea Mountain Bike Remutaka Cycle Tour: $108
  • From Source to Sea Remutaka Mountain Bike Cycle Tour: $108
  • From Source to Sea Remutaka eBike Cycle Tour: $127
  • From Source to Sea eBike Remutaka Cycle Tour: $127
  • From Half-Day Foodie Tour of the Wairarapa: $99
  • From Taste Buds Tour of Petone: $139
  • Full Day Lord of the Rings Tour: $181

Tours and Activities in Aoraki Mount Cook

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

  • Day Tour: From Christchurch to Mount Cook in Private Car: $619
  • Day Tour: From Queenstown to Mount Cook in Private Car: $612
  • Fox Glacier Nature Tour: $57
  • Franz Josef Nature Tour: $57
  • From Christchurch: Mount Cook One-Way Discovery Tour: $123
  • From Queenstown: Mount Cook Private Day Tour: $1,226
  • Gold Hunting Adventures: $234
  • Half-Day Guided Sea Kayaking Tour from Anakiwa: $69
  • Half-Day Self-Guided Ride and Wine Bike Tour from Arrowtown: $63
  • Lake Matheson Nature Tour: $57
  • Mount Cook Return Day Tour via Lake Tekapo From Christchurch: $180
  • Mt Cook & Hooker Valley Hike Small Group Tour from Queenstown: $158

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Wellington $13
    Aoraki Mount Cook $21

Sample the Local Flavors in Wellington

Also in Wellington, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Wellington Craft Brewery Half Day Tour: $97
  • Wellington Craft Brewery Half-Day Guided Tour with Tastings: $99
  • 5 hour Martinborough shared Chefs Wine Tour with Gourmet lunch: $146
  • Martinborough Full Day Wine Tour: $177
  • Full Day Martinborough Wine Tour: $177
  • Martinborough High Tea and Wine Tour in Tesla SUVs: $222
  • Private Martinborough Wine Tour in an Electric Vehicle - Tesla Model Y: $295
  • Chefs Private Martinborough wine tour with Gourmet Lunch: $837

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:

  • Classic Central Otago Wine Tasting Experience: $16
  • Pinot Noir Wine Tasting Experience: $29
  • Valli Wine Tasting Experience: $29
  • Wild Irishman Wine Tasting Experience: $48
  • Premium Central Otago Wine Tasting Experience: $48


When comparing the travel costs between Wellington 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 Wellington Expensive? and Is Aoraki Mount Cook Expensive?.