New Zealand Elopement Photographer
Hi, I’m Lucy – your colorful New Zealand Elopement Photographer & Planner! Whether you’re just starting to consider eloping in New Zealand or have your heart set on it, this complete and updated for 2024 guide will walk you through it. Eloping in New Zealand is easy, fulfilling, and unforgettable. As of 2024, I am based in New Zealand and can’t wait to help you experience the magic of this mythical country. So, let me walk you through some drop-dead gorgeous New Zealand elopement locations in my favorite country of all time.
Eloping in New Zealand in 2024
The best elopements are planned as a vacation. Your elopement is not an event, so you don’t need a ballroom, a 3 tier cake, elaborate matching outfits for your favorite friends, nor do you need to navigate the etiquette of invitations. Plan a vacation – 10 days or longer is best if you want to see both North Island and South Island. Getting to New Zealand will be the most expensive part, and I’ve got tips to enjoy the journey.
About this New Zealand Elopement Guide
The information here is from my first-hand experience planning and photographing unique elopements on the islands. You can start to get a sense of the majesty and diverse landscapes that are available. At the bottom, you’ll find two sample timelines for elopements on each island. If you’re just starting to dream of a New Zealand elopement, take the next step and get in touch to see my interactive map. Here you can explore the locations used in this guide, and click on each one to see details and exact locations. You will be spoiled for choice anywhere!
See real New Zealand Elopement photos
To really get an idea for this incredible place, you can see a real New Zealand elopement that I planned and photographed in December 2022 on South Island. They got ready in their campervan on the shore of one of the most beautiful turquoise lakes in the world, Lake Tekapo. Surrounded by blue and pink flowers, they shared their first look and elopement ceremony. This was just the start of their incredible 2 day New Zealand adventure elopement!
How to elope in New Zealand
Most of the time, you don’t need a special permit to get marred on public lands in New Zealand. This makes planning a breeze, and last minute backup plans a cinch. The first step to planning a New Zealand Elopement is to book your flights, after checking the country’s travel requirements. Then chat with a New Zealand elopement planner about your desires and must-haves. (Hello!) I’ll help narrow down areas that will tick your boxes and more. Then you’ll book your accommodation and any excursions, and you’re pretty much ready to go. Planning an elopement should feel like planning an epic vacation instead of a large scale event. I’ll help you every step of the way. Get started by contacting me and telling me about your dream!
A step by step guide to eloping in New Zealand:
- Select a date range. Remember, December to March is summer season in New Zealand and June to September is their winter!
- Book your flights to Auckland
- Hire a New Zealand elopement photographer and settle on a specific date. Get excited!
- With your photographers’ help, decide on a location and book your accommodation and rental car
- Create the perfect timeline and book additional vendors – officiant, florist, etc
- Apply for your NZeTA at least 3 days before your flight leaves. Use the app!
Do I need a Visa to elope in New Zealand?
If you are coming from outside of New Zealand, you will need the simple Visitors Visa or NZeTA, which stands for New Zealand electronic travel authorization. This costs just $17 per person. But the most important part is that you get this at least 72 hours before your first flight’s departure. My advise: get the app – it’s cheaper and it’s faster because it goes directly to the immigration department. BE SUPER CAREFUL that you don’t accidentally use a predatory 3rd party website or app – these shady companies are submitting your information FOR you while upcharging you and making hte process take longer. This is the correct NZeTA site where you can apply and download the app.
What are the requirements to elope in New Zealand?
In order to legally marry in New Zealand, you will need a registered officiant or Celebrant. Celebrants are required to be registered with the government; it is not possible to have a friend get ordained for a single ceremony. Use this link to find a celebrant near your chosen elopement location. Apply for your $150 NZ Marriage license at least 3 business days before your ceremony via this link. Alternatively, you can choose to legally marry in your home country and have a symbolic ceremony in New Zealand – this is the simplest method and a popular choice.
About your New Zealand Elopement Photographer
I’m a New Zealand elopement photographer with an obsession for authentic imagery in stunning places. My photography style emphasizes the amazing landscape of your dreams and the real, candid moments that make you two.. well, you two! I love my job and my nature-loving clients. Maybe I’ll see you there!
Favorite hike: Hooker Lake Track
Favorite city: Waitomo
My favorite excursion: Milford sound cruise
Favorite food: real fruit ice cream
Favorite beach: Anawhata
Elopement North Island NZ
The South Island of New Zealand gets a lot of hype. But a North Island Elopement is spectacular too! There are so many great New Zealand elopement locations on North Island. There are spectacular waterfalls; beaches, cliffs, and seaside caves; volcanic steam vents and boiling mud; epic hikes to mountain peaks, and more. The Waitakere range of mountains just west of Auckland is a treasure trove of beauty close to the city. The black sand beaches of Piha and Huia are graced with amazing sunsets. East of Auckland, the Coromandel peninsula is a vacation destination for many locals. And the infamous Cathedral Cove is found here. Inland, Rotorua is the central point for hikes in the redwood forests, the blue and green geothermal pools, and the bizarre boiling mud pools of Waiotapu.
Glow Worms in New Zealand
No north island trip would be complete without a visit to the world famous Waitomo Glow Worm caves. The Spellbound tour is the best, and will take you on a boat on an underground river in a cave lit up by the glowing turquoise lights of glow worms’ butts. If that isn’t romance, I don’t know what is. There are some glow worm experiences on the South Island, near Te Anau.
Hobbiton, the movie set of Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, is located on the North Island of NZ, about 2 hours drive southeast from Auckland. If you’d like to marry in the Shire, you can! For a price. Elopements with 11 people or fewer, or permission to have a photoshoot on the grounds, starts at $4,000 NZD. These prices do not include a reception. Read more about Hobbiton elopement options here. There are additional filming locations all over New Zealand. If you’d like to visit the mossy orc-filled forests, the high mountain ridges, and other areas for your Party Business – I can take you.
New Zealand North Island Elopement Timeline
Here is a tentative North Island elopement timeline so you can see what a day could look like. It was difficult to make this timeline knowing that there are so many other possibilities for amazing elopements on the North Island! If you had a second day, do a day trip to the Waitakeres or the geothermal area surrounding Wai’o’tapu and Tongariro. Visit the forest giant Tane Mahuta, see the spiritual Cape Reinga & its sand dunes, or climb mt. Taranaki.
7:00 Sunrise first look at Cathedral Cove
8:00 Brunch together and enjoy the scenic drive to Waitomo
2:00 Waitomo Glow Worm Cave tour on an underground river
4:30 Picnic sammies, real fruit ice cream and drinks
5:50 Hike down to Kopa falls and explore the rocks at the base
6:00 Say your vows near the thundering falls, get a little wet
7:45 First dance under the stars
New Zealand South Island Elopement Locations
If you’ve ever wanted to feel like you’ve living on middle earth, come to New Zealand. Moss coated forests, glaciers, canyons, scrub-dunes, rocky cliffs, peaks and valleys dominate the island. Many of the areas are more remote and require more driving to access. But if you’re already going all the way to New Zealand, they’re worth going the extra mile for. Swing bridges dot the trails as the terrain is steeper than all get-out. This is one of the best places in the world for an adventurous couple that wants to elope privately. I can’t wait to show you around my favorite spots!
South Island Elopement Timeline
Here is an example South Island elopement timeline so you can start imagining your day. If you have more time, my second choice of itineraries would start on the northern end and explore Abel Tasman, the farewell spit, and the beaches of the west coast. Contact me if you’d like to see this timeline or one based around Aoraki / Mt. Cook.
8:00 First look at Monkey Creek
9:00 Grab coffee, pastries and savory pies at the Cafe
10:00 Morning boat cruise on Milford sound, look for penguins and get sprayed by Stirling Falls
12:00 Hike to a secluded lake surrounded by mountains to say your vows alone on the shore
1:00 Picnic lunch pies and champagne
3:00 Drive to Te Anau and take a scenic helicopter ride
5:00 Land on a glacier and explore it
6:30 Return to Te Anau
7:00 Take a rowboat out on the lake at sunset
8:00 Fancy Dinner
New Zealand Elopement Cost – Updated for 2024
The cost of eloping in New Zealand can vary greatly depending on where in the world you’re coming from; your traveling style; and the depth of your bucket list. If you’d like to tour the country in a campervan and make your own breakfasts and lunches, you’ll be able to visit for about $1700usd per week (2 people). Petrol is one of the highest costs you’ll have, but otherwise the cost of living is equal or lower than the USA. If you’d rather stay in luxurious micro hotels and treat yourself to lots of excursions, you could easily spend up to $4000 a week. The additional costs for eloping will be in this ballpark:
- $6000 to $10,000 Elopement Photographer & Planner
- $2500 to $7000 Helicopter Elopement Package
- $300 to $500 Local NZ Celebrant
- $150 NZ Marriage License
- $200 to $300 Hair and Makeup Services
- $200 and up – Florals
New Zealand Elopement Packages
I offer New Zealand elopement packages, which includes my services as a planner and photographer of your day. However, I don’t use pre-made templates, and no two elopements are the same. There are no travel fees, download fees, watermarks or other hidden fees.
2 Day elopements in New Zealand – $7900 usd
1.5 Days of elopement photography – $6900 usd
1 Full day adventure elopement in New Zealand – $5900 usd
New Zealand Elopement All Inclusive
If you’d like a totally hands-off planning experience, allow me to step in! I know the ins and outs of planning like the back of my hand, and I can pull together a fully custom All Inclusive Elopement Package in NZ. I will hire all the vendors and excursions needed to make your vision come to life. You will be responsible for your attire and flights.
All Inclusive Elopement Packages NZ – Starting at $11,000usd
New Zealand Elopement Locations
I’m going to try and break down all the incredible elopement locations in New Zealand, but this is a huge, diverse country, so to get more details on these regions and exact spots, please get in touch!
New Zealand Road Trip Elopements
New Zealand’s epic scenery is spread out over both North Island and South Island. To see the most while you are there, consider a road trip elopement! It’s no secret that renting a campervan is one of the best ways to see this country. Campsites are affordable and renting a camper works out to be cheaper than a rental car + hotel. You’ll wake up closer to your destination every day, and have an unforgettable experience. I have road tripped in a campervan on both North and South Islands and would be happy to chat with you about your dream itinerary. Look into Klook for great savings on NZ Excursions. Here’s a list of some of the best NZ Campervan rentals:
New Zealand Elopement Queenstown
Queenstown is the epicenter for adventure not only within New Zealand, but of the world! Bungee jumping, jetboat rides, steamboat tours of lake Whakatipu, the alpine coaster and the gondola are all popular adventures in Queenstown. Best known of all, New Zealand helicopter elopements leave from Queenstown. Hiking is popular, but not required as there are lots of places with mountain views that you can drive to.
New Zealand Helicopter Elopements
There are a few companies that offer New Zealand Helicopter Elopements out of Queenstown. Which one you choose will depend on the size of your group and what season you’d like to elope. Scenic flights will blow your mind with a trip through mountain rangers and fjords you can’t explore on foot. On a Scenic Flight, you will take off and land from the same place without stopping to get out anywhere else. On a Wedding Flight or Glacial Landing, the helicopter will take you to an epic location where you can get out and have your ceremony.
- Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopter Flights
- HeliWorks Queenstown
- The Helicopter Line – Offers landings on Glaciers too
- Fly NZ
Mountain Hiking Elopements in New Zealand
On the North Island, explore Mts Taranaki, Ruapehu, Tongariro, and Ngaruhoe. Enjoy the well-maintained trails and numerous swing bridges! But keep in mind, not all hikes need to have summits. The Tongariro crossing is one of the most beautiful hikes in the world. It takes you across a red volcanic cone and mysteriously colored lakes in the alpine region. On the South Island, the 7 overnight backpacking routes called the Great Walks are famous, but there are plenty of day hikes with excellent scenery too. Hikes around Wanaka, Queenstown, Manapouri, Nelson Lakes, Mt Aoraki, and the Farewell spit will keep you enthralled. The Hooker lake Track, to the iceberg-filled alpine lake in front of NZ’s tallest peak, is a MUST do.
New Zealand Lake Elopement Locations
Lakes also provide a perfect background for great New Zealand elopement locations. Lake Wanaka’s distinctive tree is a popular tourist spot – it’s so famous that it’s simply known as “That Wanaka tree.” It’s best to visit it at sunrise. But Lake Hawea, a cousin of Wanaka, is backed by a very impressive wall of mountains that will make your jaw drop in every season. Lake Te Anau is a hot spot for seaplane and helicopter tours and is the starting point for a journey to Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound. For water so stunning and turquoise you can see it from space, don’t miss a chance to visit lake Pukaki. My other favorite lakes are Tekapo, Dunstan, Wakatipu, and Rotoiti.
Waterfall Elopement Locations in New Zealand
Waterfalls make fantastic focal points and backgrounds for elopements. Whether you want to stand at an overlook or feel the water running around your ankles as you say your vows, consider eloping at one of NZ’s amazing waterfalls. The aptly named Bridal Veil Falls is a pure stream that falls almost 200 feet off a cliff and into a bowl surrounded by jungle. Yes please! There is nothing like the anticipation or hearing the roar of a waterfall ahead of you down the trail, and many of them can be accessed by short, manageable hikes. One of my favorite falls is right by a natural bridge, where you can find glow worms without entering a cave. Some waterfalls may require permission, a permit, or a rental fee to elope beneath.
Milford Sound Elopement Photographer
Dreaming of a milford sound elopement? The Maori name for Milford Sound is Piopiotahi, and its perhaps the best known place in New Zealand. My gosh, it will just take your breath away. Tucked away on the southwest coast, this remote inlet is famed for its epic scenery. Mitre peak’s triangular shape looms over the sound and massive waterfalls tumble right into the ocean alongside it. Taking a boat cruise 15 kilometers to the mouth of the ocean will win you the chance to see seals, penguins, dolphins and more. Ask me about what time of day is best to take this once in a lifetime boat ride. I’ve got the intel. Nothing will make you feel more alive than an elopement in this majestic landscape. For a more private experience, check out Doubtful sound.
Ocean & Beach Elopement Locations in NZ
This country truly has it all. The abundant coastline means there are all types of beaches – white sands, pink sands, black sands, rocky pools, and everything in between. Tidepool hoppers rejoice! The North Island is definitely better for beach lovers because of the diversity and warm weather. The west coastline of the north island has the sea caves, cliffs, and black sands of your dreams. You can spend a week just exploring the many amazing views and chasing sunsets off the beaches. On South Island, the area around the Farewell Spit is incredible. I’m talking about baby seal pups playing in tide pools on a vast expanse of white sand beach. It’s dotted with large offshore rocks, and I even found penguin footprints on the sand here! Then Abel Tasman national park has that pristine coastline you dream of.
When to plan a New Zealand Elopement
Because it’s located in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are backwards from the USA and Europe. The summer season is from December to the end of February, fall is from March to April, and so on. So if you’d like to escape the cold months in the North, get your booty down to New Zealand to enjoy the best temps. In every season, the further south you go the colder you will be, especially at night. In the summer, you will need to pack many layers for this reason. There are glaciers here, and glacial meltwater rivers as blue as.. well, glacial meltwater. The west coast of the south island from Greymouth to Haast rarely has clear skies, so be prepared for frequent rainstorms, but don’t let that deter you.
What is the best time to elope in New Zealand?
The best time to elope in New Zealand is during the summer wildflower season in the first two weeks of December. The Lupine flowers that spread over the shorelines of the South Island’s lakeshores are a sight to behold and enjoy up close. December to March is considered summer, with temperatures in the 24 – 28C range (75 to 82). Shoulder seasons of fall (April to June) and spring (October and November) can be great too, if you don’t mind packing a warmer layer for mornings and evenings. In the winter (July, August and September), you can enjoy helicopter landing elopements out of Queenstown, skiing on both islands, and romantic snow capped peaks.
New Zealand Slang & Maori Words
Kia ora! That means ‘be well,’ or “hello.” You’ll hear everyone greet you this way! Hiking is called ‘Tramping’ in New Zealand, and trails are called ‘Tracks’. The longer you spend in the country, the more you’ll understand the true meaning of the phrase “yeah, nah” which mostly means yes, and “sweet as” which means “awesome!” Many of the place names and phrases are in Maori. Beware, before you embarrass yourself- “wh” is pronounced as “f” when speaking. You will also see “ng” together at the start of many words. It takes a bit of time to get used to, but just pronounce it like you would pronounce “ng” in the word “fang” 🙂
Aotearoa – The Maori word for New Zealand that means, The Land Of The Long White Cloud
Aroha – Love
Real Fruit Ice Cream – simply the best and freshest dessert on the planet
Here is my New Zealand Elopement Locations Map:
This map is like a virtual tour of both islands of New Zealand with color photos I’ve taken of each place. So you can see all the great spots without leaving your living room. If you’re planning from afar, this is a visual key to picking out the elopement spot that works for you. Details like what seasons and time of day are best for each location are included. It will help you plan your activities, accommodations, and your day’s itinerary. Lastly, it’s easy to have a great backup location picked out with this map in front of you. Having that Plan B in your back pocket will keep your planning stress-free!
Your New Zealand Elopement Photographer
I will design your elopement, walk you through every step of planning, and then give you the reigns to enjoy eloping in New Zealand. Afterwards, you’ll receive over 700 beautiful, authentic New Zealand elopement photos that take you back in time to the amazing day you had. I offer full day, 1.5 day and 2 day elopement photography all over New Zealand. I would love to chat with you and help see if an elopement with me is what you’ve been dreaming of. Get in touch below!