The 2022 Planning Guide for an Exceptional
New Zealand Elopement

An adventure elopement is a one-of-a-kind way to celebrate the one-of-a-kind love you have for one another. Think about it. Just the two of you, your chosen destination, and a day of fun - all built around your love for one another. Oh, and us! - your New Zealand photographers - there to capture all the magical moments of your fantastic day.  

Though no two adventure elopements are ever the same, our goal for your day is universal: To create a day full of adventure and new experiences you’re sure to tell stories about!

Your love is exciting, ever-evolving, and strong. And it grows even stronger over shared experiences and exciting times. So, what better way to tie the knot than by eloping? And not just any kind of elopement - an adventure elopement!

So, let’s get started! Because you deserve to enjoy every moment of this experience.... Starting now.

Where to elope in New Zealand

But in our opinion, when it comes to eloping, eight regions stand out above the rest - both for their beauty and for their ease of access. 

From North to south they are:

NiNE top places to elope in NZ

New Zealand is a treasure trove of unique places to visit and celebrate love, from Auckland's rugged black sand beaches and native rainforests to Queenstown's breathtaking mountains and bucket list hotspots. 


01

The Auckland airport is the first port of call for the majority of international travelers. And, as the biggest city in New Zealand, it has all the amenities you could want/need for your wedding in spades (hair and makeup artists, florists, celebrants, accommodations, prop hires, dress and suit hires, etc.). You name it, you can find it in Auckland.

Not only that, but it offers world-class restaurants, lively nightlife, nearby wineries, and adventure activities galore. 
And let’s talk about its beauty! There are some incredible sights within an hours drive - including vast black sand beaches on the west coast that are wild and often empty. Meaning you’ll have plenty of space to dance like no one’s watching (while we get it all on camera!). And because the weather in this region is usually warmer than further south, you’ll be able to enjoy more of the glorious outdoors more often.

All of this to say, you’ll never be at a loss of things to do during your adventure elopement in Auckland. We can tour the farmer’s market and discover some fresh delicacies by the river’s edge. Or have a magical nighttime journey on the Great Barrier Island (1 of only 10 places classified as a dark sky sanctuary). Or, if you seriously want to take your love to new heights (and depths), you could head to the Auckland Harbour Bridge for a bungy jump

Wild black sand Beaches + wineries 

Auckland

02

If you want something a little more rugged and laid back, consider the Coromandel Peninsula. In this region, winding (often gravel) roads lead you through lush subtropical forests and from one hidden bay to another. Here, rocky cliff sides surround incredible white sand beaches - lending natural privacy and creating a stunning backdrop for couples wanting a “toes in the sand” vow exchange.

And just a short drive and a wee trek away, you’ll find next-level, 360-degree views of the entire peninsula from the top of one of the area’s many ancient volcanoes. So, if you’re hoping to have privacy and majesty, here you can have both!

While boutique accommodations are everywhere in this area, hair and makeup services are a little harder to find (they may have to travel to you). And stores and restaurants close a little earlier in the sleepy beach towns that dot the landscape. But no worries! We have the inside scoop and can help you find and book all the services you need. Sans stress!

ANCIENT VOLCANIC PEAKS MEET hidden sandy beaches 

The Coromandel Peninsula 

03

Moving further south, you’ll find Tongariro National Park - home of Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings. If movie producers thought it should be featured in one of the best trilogies of all time, surely it’s a great backdrop for your I Do’s - right?! 

Tongariro National Park is an alpine plateau sporting three large mountains - which also happen to be active volcanoes! Don’t worry, the last eruption took place in 1996, and there are plenty of safety protocols in place.

The largest of the three and tallest on the North Island, Mount Ruapehu, has access roads up to the ski fields. So it’s a great place to get married in summer if you're looking for incredible views without the bushwacking. But if you are up for a little more adventure, there are many hiking trails of varying lengths and difficulties we can take you on as well.

To the West are rainforests, lakes, and waterfalls. To the east is New Zealand's only desert area - a stunning spot covered in golden tussock that stretches to the base of all three snow-capped mountains. And if you’re feeling like Frodo, you can climb up Mount Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom) and take a peek at the crater. Just know that to do so, you’ll have to trek about two hours off the main route. 

In other words, this area offers a ton - various settings, levels of adventure, and activities. So, if you’re hoping for a wide variety of images, this might be the perfect spot for you.

When you visit here, stay at the Chateau Tongariro - an elegant hotel with 1920's charm, an incredible restaurant, and a 9-hole golf course. Or in a cute AirBnB near the edge of the park. 

New Zealand's very own Alpine Desert Platue

Tongariro National Park

04

Christchurch may be the largest city in the South Island, but there is oodles of draw dropping beauty and adventure to be found right on it’s doorstep! 
Banks Peninsula is 1150 square kilometers of ancient volcanic peaks and myriad hidden coves. It’s a place where the sky touches the earth as clouds born on the ocean breeze cascade over wind swept ridges only to clear up and reveal sweeping vistas of the Canterbury Plains and the great Southern Alps beyond. 

Right behind Christchurch, at the very edge of Banks peninsula lie the port hills. Rocky and striking most of their beautiful peaks are accessible by a short walk thanks to the roads winding their way trough them. With views looking out over the city lights all the way up the coast to Kaikōura and out over the littleton harbour the port hills are just amazing if you’re looking for a spot with a view but also require easy access. 

Follow the road from the Port hills to the east and you’ll find Godley Head. A world war two relic where the landscape is dotted with abandoned concrete bunkers, gun emplacements and tunnels carved through the red volcanic rock in the cliffs above the ocean. Godley head offers panoramic views of the Pacific ocean and access to most of this place is possible in a wheelchair.

Within a two hour drive of Christchurch you will find Castle Hill Conservation area and Arthurs Pass National Park. Two places you have to see to believe. With magnificent peaks, dark rain forests, winding rivers, still lakes and deep cave systems, this limestone landscape is spotted with gigantic boulders and aside from some world class rock climbing offers up an incredible landscape to elope in.


your basecamp for exploration

Christchurch

05

We should warn you, this is our favourite spot in New Zealand. So, when you reach out, don’t be surprised if we encourage you to consider doing all or part of your session here.

Nestled near the centre of the Southern Alps, Mt. Cook (or Aoraki in Maori) is New Zealand's tallest mountain at 3724m. Consequently, it and its neighbours are snow-capped all year round. 

Access to the mountain is easy by car - or for a totally rad experience, by helicopter. We recommend staying in The Hermitage, a 5-star hotel near the foot of the mountain. Pro tip: request a room on the top floor, as there is nothing in this world like drawing the curtains to catch the sun rising on the eastern face of this breathtaking mountain while still in your pajamas. 

It’s a good distance from any major city, which makes it great for those wanting privacy and solitude. But that also means that if you want amenities like hair and makeup, you will need to organise travel and accommodation for them. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered and can help with this too! 

Home of New Zealand's tallest Mountain

Mt. Cook National Park

06

Loving the idea of a helicopter elopement? Wanaka is a great starting point. Wanaka township sits on the shore of the crystal clear Lake Wanaka in the Southern Alps. Oh you will love the views you will get when a helicopter lands on one the many landings available from Wanaka. 

This region is vast and there is much to explore. But, given that there are many incredible and isolated helicopter landing spots, exploring it is as easy as a short flight with our good friends at Wanaka Helicopters (these are the guys who trained Tom Cruise for Mission Impossible Fallout, so you know you're in good hands). 

Not only that, but Wanaka has many great places to stay, including unique farm stays, and shares plenty of amenities with nearby Queenstown. So, there are excellent choices for hair and makeup, florists, celebrants, and the like. 

The Gate way to Mt Aspiring National Park

WanakA 

07

There are two "international" airports on the South Island: Christchurch and Queenstown. We say "international", but these only connect with Australia. Go figure!

Landing in Queenstown is a bucket-list item all on its own. The approach takes you low through jagged, snow-covered mountains and is simply breathtaking. So, make sure you opt for a window seat! 

Many consider Queenstown to be the adventure capital of the south. It's a small town with plenty to do. It has a charming, almost European vibe. And down by the waterfront, there are many 5-star restaurants and incredibly romantic places to stay at every turn. 

And then, there’s this whole other side to it - the wild, wanderlust side - where you’ll find dramatic vistas, dreamy fields, and snow-capped peaks. We daresay it’s a patchwork of seduction for the wildly romantic. 

The TSS Earnslaw ship tours Lake Wakatipu daily, as it has since 1912, and its bow is an amazing place to get married. That said, there is plenty of vehicle access up towards the surrounding ski fields in the summer months for some truly stunning outlooks. And there is no shortage of helicopter landing spots dotted around the mountainous landscape. 

Being the largest town in Central Otago, Queenstown has everything you will need when it comes to amenities. There are some next-level Airbnb's overlooking the lake and the mountains, where everything is just a short stroll from your door. And, should you forget to pack sunblock or long johns, there are clothing and department stores just a short trip away. Also, be sure to check out Canopy Camping for some truly hidden glamping spots in the region

The gorgeous Adventure Capitol of the World

Queenstown

08

New Zealand sits at the "edge" of the world, and Milford Sound sits at the edge of that. Here, massive mountains burst straight up from the sea in every direction, and rainforests and stony rivers carpet everything below the snow line. 

This place is a land before time. And even if you don't elope here, we recommend you still see it with your own eyes! The drive-in is breathtaking - even more so if it's raining, with literally thousands of waterfalls streaming down rocky cliffs from above the clouds. Cruises along the sound are available all day, and there are world-class hiking trails in all directions. 

But warning: accommodations are limited here, so you’ll want to book something well ahead of time. We recommend Milford Sound Lodge. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself driving for over an hour to get to the next closest town, Te Anau. 

If you’d rather not drive, many helicopter companies also fly into Milford Sound from Queenstown, with multiple landings available in a single trip. So, if you want the simplicity (and adventure) of a flight with photos in various spots along the way, this might be a good option to consider!

And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the waterfalls here. In fact, if you have always wanted to elope in front of a waterfall, this is the place for you. Our favourite of the many hundreds is 120m tall! 

a Land of Waterfalls, ancient rainforests + Misty Fiords

Milford
Sound 

09

Often overlooked as a destination in New Zealand, Dunedin is an old city (by New Zealand standards) with a Scottish vibe.

The coast is a big attraction here, where ocean waves collide with white cliffs that steer out toward the icy waters of Antarctica. Don't forget to check out the Southern Albatross Sanctuary (home to the world's largest flying birds) and say hello to the many yellow-eyed penguins and seals that pepper the coastline. 

Catlins Forest Park is an hour's drive south, full of lush rainforest, waterfalls, and incredible hiking trails. Again, for all you waterfall lovers, this is another great spot for waterfall elopements.

And given that Dunedin is a relatively large town, everything you need is within reach. From hair and makeup, florists, and reception venues to courthouses and celebrants, there are many options available to choose from. 

Incredible coastlines AND fascinating history

Dunedin

Where to stay

Your New Zealand elopement 

Now that you’re thoroughly convinced that New Zealand is the place for you, you might be wondering where you should stay. 

Whether you stay near the photoshoot area or in a bigger city depends on how you envision your elopement. Being near a main center means you will have more access to hair and makeup, florists, restaurants, celebrants, and accommodation choices.
If, however, you envision slowly starting your day in a cozy mountain cabin somewhere off the grid, before putting on your boots and heading out the door with the love of your life, then your choices are pretty much endless in New Zealand. 

Besides the few hotels we highlighted above, consider booking an Airbnb or gorgeous and cozy holiday home. Or if you want something truly special and “off the beaten path”, consider Canopy Camping.

These options offer more freedom and choice of design than the hotels. And, because we love to start adventure elopements by documenting you getting ready, homes have more character and better lighting than most hotel rooms.

GET IN TOUCH SO WE CAN GET STARTED

YOUR ADVENTURE IS WAITING

What to Wear for an Adventure Elopement

The simple answer: Whatever style speaks to you and your love story!

But, because we know where we'll be taking you, we’ll also suggest colour options and styles that will best complement your surroundings. And we’re happy to create a mood board to help you as you shop for the right options.

To be honest, we love a good mix of adventure and fashion. And we believe getting that dress or suit a little muddy is A-OK - because it's all part of your story! However, we do recommend having comfortable footwear. In fact, a pair of hiking boots can look pretty slick paired with a wedding gown. And we’ve seen some pretty cool sneakers in our time - the sequins and glitter look amazing in photos! But truthfully, you won't see much of your shoes anyway.

So, our advice? Lean into the adventure vibes. 

If our plans take us a long way off-grid or into alpine areas, we’ll provide you with a list of must-have items to bring along- like a jacket or thermal leggings. And if we suggest you bring a towel, just know you're in for a kick-ass time!




While you're picking out your adventure clothes, consider also packing these three things to make your experience more enjoyable:

+ Something meaningful to you as a couple

+ Something to keep you warm - especially if it’s that time of year

+ A special surprise for your partner. Just let us know your plans so we can be there to help you pull them off and to capture the moment

Still have questions about an NZ adventure elopement?

We have answers

What time of year is best?

This depends a lot on your story. Are you avid skiers? Perhaps you'll like a winter elopement. Do you love dry summer grasses and getting rained on by waterfalls? Then summer is where it's at. We'll talk to you, weigh up the pros and cons, and find out exactly what suits your love story.

Will you find us the best location to get married in?

Yes! Unless you have a special spot already in mind. We’re obsessed with finding spots that suit you and your love story. And we pay close attention to where the light will be at different times of day, how the weather will effect things, and the specific scenery or backdrop of each location.

Can you help us hire a helicopter?

Absolutely! There are helicopter companies in most parts of New Zealand, and we have worked with a lot of them. Unless you have a particular place in mind, we often work with the pilots to find you a specific landing post, taking into account the time of day and the prevailing weather.

Can there be an officiant present when we exchange vows? If so, how do we go about finding someone?

There certainly can be! We know a bunch of really amazing officiants around New Zealand who we can recommend to match your vibe. 
But having one or not all depends on how you envision your day unfolding. For example, if we are taking a helicopter or heading way out from civilization, you may find it easier and more freeing to get the official paperwork done the day before or after at a local courthouse. 

WHAT’S NEXT?
Reach out and let’s start planning your
New Zealand elopement adventure

Phew! That was A LOT of information.
And that’s because, as your adventure photographers, we not only photograph your day, we help you plan it too.  
We can't wait to join you on this journey!




CONTACT US NOW AND LET'S GET STARTED

Can we make our elopement even more adventurous?

Oh absolutely. From hot air balooning to a sunrise hike, from sky diving to wine tasting. You name it we got you. The idea behind choosing to elope is to celebrate your day without any convention stopping you. Plus, because its just the two of you, you can be spontaneous and let the day unfold itself for you. 

"We’re so lucky that we found you guys! What you gave us is more than just gorgeous pictures, but a precious memory, as well as an unforgettable adventure... 

Thank you for showing us all the beautiful scenery, and thank you for arranging everything. We definitely had the best time with Tinted.

- Emma + Kent