The ultimate guide to elope in New Zealand

Your dream New Zealand elopement – the ultimate planning guide

UPDATED FOR 2024-2025

Back-country wilderness, towering mountains, frozen glaciers, serene lakes and golden beaches… these are all the incredible places you can find in New Zealand! It’s no wonder why outdoor enthusiasts all over the world are drawn to New Zealand, and why it’s such an incredible destination for eloping couples.

If you want to tie the knot amongst the stunning landscapes of this island, keep reading to learn everything you need to know about how to elope in New Zealand!

Let’s dive in…

Welcome to the Adventure of a Lifetime

Amber, elopement photographer

Hey there, I’m Amber! I’m your elopement photographer and planner – your one-stop-shop for absolutely everything you need for a magical, incredible elopement day. 

I offer all-inclusive elopement packages for couples who want to relax and let me handle absolutely everything, as well as options for couples who like a little bit of DIY! I’ll find the perfect place for you to exchange vows, recommend vendors, help you figure out travel and lodging, make a timeline, and more – personalizing each part of your elopement day to perfectly suit the two of you. And of course, I’ll be there to take the photos and document this once in a lifetime adventure.
You aren’t like every other couple, and your wedding day shouldn’t be either! I’ll help you craft a day that’s true to you, authentic, and real, allowing you to immerse yourselves in the experience as you say your “I dos.”

First, let’s be sure we’re talking about the same thing:

What is an elopement?

The meaning of the word “elopement” has changed and shifted a lot over the last few years. Elopements aren’t just for Vegas anymore! Eloping means that you’ve chosen to make your day meaningful, intentional, and all about what you want. Forgoing the traditions and expectations that big weddings bring with them can be scary, but if an intimate ceremony at an alpine lake sounds more like your style than a huge party with everyone you know, eloping might be the right choice for you!

Why Elope in New Zealand?

Stunning Scenery

This is what draws most people to visit New Zealand, and the main reason why it’s such an amazing elopement destination. With such a huge diversity of landscapes and no shortage of beautiful places to go, you can spend weeks exploring the volcanos, glaciers, lakes, and beaches.

The People

New Zealanders, also known as “kiwis,” are famous for being incredibly friendly and welcoming. They are laid back and always up for adventures, and love to share the beauty of their country with visitors. As you explore New Zealand during your elopement, you’re bound to meet friendly faces on the trails, and get information about all the best local attractions!

Food and Wine

New Zealand is best known for its seafood – as an island nation, there’s no shortage of delicious mussels, oysters, crayfish, and much more. You’ll have no trouble finding the perfect bottle of wine to pair with your meal, as New Zealand’s wines often receive praise from international experts, and their wine tours will give you a taste of all the best local flavors.

How to legally elope in New Zealand

How to Legally Elope in New Zealand

Paperwork and legal logistics may not be the most exciting part of planning, but it’s important to make sure you have everything you need so that your marriage is legal and valid. Even if you are travelling to New Zealand internationally, you can still have your ceremony there!

You will need to apply for a marriage license, which can be done online here. A marriage license costs $150 (that’s New Zealand dollars – in US currency, it costs $98), and needs to be obtained at least three days before the ceremony, but no more than three months in advance.

You will also need a celebrant (or officiant) to marry you, but New Zealand has a handy directory of registered celebrants, which you can find here! Two witnesses are required to sign your marriage license, but don’t worry if you’re eloping just the two of you – your photographer and any other vendors can sign as witnesses, or you can find two people at your ceremony location. They just have to be over 18 years old, and most people are excited to help out!

For couples from the US:

In certain states, you can ask your county clerk the authorization to sign your wedding license abroad. If they agree, as a registered minister, my team and I will be able to legally marry you without the hassle of a legal wedding ceremony in New Zealand.

How to Get to New Zealand for Your Elopement

Embarking on a journey to New Zealand for your elopement is akin to stepping into a realm where every landscape whispers tales of adventure and romance. The best way to travel to this enchanting land, where the air itself seems to celebrate love, is a blend of anticipation and wonder, ensuring your journey is as magical as the vows you’re about to exchange.

Get to New Zealand by Plane

Let your love story take flight with a direct passage to the heart of New Zealand. Choose an airline that weaves luxury with comfort, turning hours in the sky into a serene prelude to your adventure. As you cross oceans and continents, imagine the untouched landscapes awaiting your footprints, the serene beaches, the whispering forests, and the towering mountains. Opt for flights that land in Auckland or Christchurch, gateways to your elopement escapade, each offering a unique embrace of New Zealand’s welcoming spirit.

Getting Around New Zealand During Your Elopement

The moment you touch down, the real journey begins. New Zealand’s domestic travel network is a seamless bridge to even the most remote elopement destinations. Consider a scenic flight to Queenstown for an adrenaline-fueled love story amidst the mountains, or a leisurely drive through the rolling hills to a secluded beach where your vows echo against the waves. The choice of a camper van, a cozy retreat on wheels, offers both freedom and intimacy, allowing you to weave through the landscapes at your own pace, finding those perfect, untouched spots to say “I do.”

Remember, traveling to New Zealand for your elopement is more than just a journey; it’s the beginning of a grand adventure, a tale of love that you will cherish and narrate for years to come. It’s about embracing each moment, from the anticipation in the skies to the thrill of exploration on land, culminating in the profound simplicity of exchanging vows in one of the world’s most breathtaking settings. This is your epic, your odyssey – a celebration of love that starts with a journey to New Zealand, a land where dreams take flight and love knows no bounds.

Did you know?

As a guide and photographer specialized in New Zealand elopements, I extend a comforting service to all my couples by providing complimentary transportation on their elopement adventure. This ensures that they can fully immerse themselves in the joy of their elopement experience while I handle all the logistics with care and expertise.

Lodging for Your Elopement in New Zealand

Ah, for a luxurious elopement adventure in New Zealand, consider these top-tier accommodation categories, each offering its own unique blend of comfort, exclusivity, and connection to the stunning natural beauty around you:

Luxury lodges

New Zealand’s luxury lodges are more than just places to stay; they are experiences in themselves, offering unparalleled service, exquisite cuisine, and locations in some of the country’s most breathtaking settings. Imagine lodges nestled amidst native forests, perched on cliff tops overlooking the ocean, or secluded in the mountains, providing a serene and intimate backdrop for your elopement. These lodges often offer personalized services to make your stay and ceremony as magical as the landscape.

Boutique hotels

For those who love the idea of intimate, design-focused accommodations, New Zealand’s boutique hotels combine luxury with a personal touch. Located in urban centers like Auckland, Wellington, and Queenstown, or tucked away in scenic spots, these hotels are characterized by their unique architecture, local art, and bespoke experiences. They’re perfect for eloping couples looking for a stylish, comfortable base from which to explore or simply relax in luxury.

Private villas

Offering the ultimate in privacy and exclusivity, renting a private villa in New Zealand allows you to create a bespoke elopement experience. Villas come with luxurious amenities such as private chefs, infinity pools, and stunning views. Choose a beachfront villa for a ceremony by the sea, a secluded mountain retreat for tranquility, or a villa amidst the vineyards for a gourmet experience. This option provides a home away from home, where every detail can be tailored to your preferences, ensuring a truly personal celebration of your union.

Did you know?

When you book your elopement experience with me, I’ll give you access to my concierge service and recommend incredible hotels and talented local vendors.

Where to Elope in New Zealand

New Zealand’s scenery is absolutely breathtaking, and the hardest part of planning an elopement here might just be narrowing down a location! Here are a few of my favorite spots that would make the perfect backdrop for an elopement.

Elope in Hobbiton, New Zealand


Did you know that in New Zealand, you can visit a tiny Hobbit Town with hideaways and cottages nestled into the rolling green hills? Hobbiton became the set of The Lord of the Rings and later The Hobbit trilogies after a team of location scouts found these rolling hills and lush green pastures and marveled at the landscapes remarkable similarity to The Shire described by Tolkien in his books. If you elope at Hobbiton, you can stay in the quaint Green Dragon Inn and explore the magic of this unique place nestled in the amazing scenery!

Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman may be the smallest national park in New Zealand, but that doesn’t make the scenery any less impressive! Located at the north end of the South Island, this park is best known for the Abel Tasman Coast Track, a 60 kilometer (37 mile) trail that traverses across ridges and winds over beaches. This stunning national park gives you the opportunity to explore New Zealand’s stunning coastline, and also to spot some of the native wildlife, such as blue penguins, bottlenose dolphins, and seals!

Elope in Abel Tasman National Park in New Zealand
Elope in Fox Glacier, New Zealand

Fox Glacier

Imagine eloping in the unique, frozen scenery of a glacier! You can walk, take a helicopter ride, or ice climb in this incredible environment and explore the breathtaking ice features of Fox Glacier. Guided tours are offered for all different levels of adventure, so if you want to say your vows in a place unlike anywhere you’ve ever been, Fox Glacier might be the perfect spot.

Milford Sound

Milford Sound, located in the southwest of New Zealand, is best known for the towering Mitre Peak, along with the lush rainforests, rushing waterfalls, and colonies of seals, penguins, and dolphins. Boat tours are a popular way to explore Milford Sound, and there are countless hikes, trails, and scenic backdrops that would make the most beautiful place to elope in New Zealand.

Adventure elopement in New zealand's miulford track
Putangirua pinnacles for an elopement in New Zealand

Putangirua Pinnacles

A little different from the mountainous, lush, green terrain most people imagine when they think of New Zealand, the Putangirua Pinnacles are some of the most unique rock formations in the world. As soon as you drive up to the towering stones, you’ll be greeted by an impressive view. But, walk along the trails and you’ll find that the scenery only gets better! You may even recognize some of the rock formations from The Lord of the Rings!

Did you know?

New Zealand offers far more than just Milford Sound. When you decide to plan your elopement with me, you’ll receive a personalized list of 4 to 5 exceptional off-the-beaten-path locations that precisely match your preferences. Let me guide you to the hidden gems of New Zealand, far from the typical tourist spots.

When to elope in New Zealand

When to Elope in New Zealand

With so many varying landscapes and climates, New Zealand’s temperatures and weather will vary in different locations across the island.


In the winter, New Zealand opens its doors to northerners who want to do some off season skiing. If you can brave the cold and you want to elope in a snowy winter wonderland, June through August are perfect for you! The North Island sees quite a bit of rain in the winter, so bring your rain jackets!


Flowers bloom and everything comes to life in the spring in New Zealand. Outdoor adventures become popular again, but high elevation locations remain snow covered until at least November. This is also the windiest season in New Zealand, so bring your windbreakers! But, the wind can also make for some pretty epic photos.


Being in the southern hemisphere, New Zealand summers start in December and end in February. The weather is warmest during this time, but because tourists flock from the northern hemisphere to escape the cold, it is also the most crowded in the summer. If you want to elope on the beach or to see some penguins, summer is the best time for you to elope in New Zealand, but be aware you’ll run into some crowds!


March through May mark the fall season in New Zealand, and the leaves change from green to gorgeous shades of orange, yellow, and red. Early fall is the best time to hike in New Zealand, as temperatures fall just enough to be comfortable for hiking, but not enough to be too chilly yet. The crowds are also much thinner, and if you elope in New Zealand in the fall, you’ll have a lot more privacy!

Did you know?

As an elopement guide and photographer in New Zealand, I offer a reassuring service to all my couples, providing complimentary transportation during their elopement adventure. This allows them to completely savor the delight of their elopement experience while I meticulously manage all logistics with expertise, even navigating the roads from the opposite side!

Example budget of an elopement in New Zealand

When it comes to elopement budgets, I understand the challenges of providing a precise estimate for vendors outside of my own expertise. The cost can greatly vary depending on your chosen destination and the quality of vendors you desire.

Elopement expenses are significantly influenced by factors like your chosen location. Rather than providing generic budget estimates for vendors I don’t work with, I recommend exploring my elopement packages. They include all-inclusive options, giving you a clearer view of your budget and costs.

Unique Things to Do When You Elope in New Zealand

New Zealand, with its breathtaking landscapes and rich cultural tapestry, offers a plethora of activities that are as unique as they are immersive. Here are five off-the-beaten-path activities that promise to connect you deeply with nature, art, and the essence of this incredible land, all while being eco-friendly:

What to do on your New Zealand elopement - Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve

Stargazing in the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve

Experience the celestial majesty of the southern skies in one of the world’s largest dark sky reserves. This activity combines the awe of the cosmos with the tranquility of nature. Guided night tours offer insights into Maori star lore, enhancing your understanding of the land and its people, while minimizing light pollution ensures an eco-friendly approach to exploring the universe.

Wilderness Art Retreats in the Coromandel Peninsula

Immerse yourself in the creative spirit amidst the stunning backdrop of the Coromandel Peninsula. These retreats offer a blend of art workshops, nature walks, and mindfulness practices, allowing you to express your creativity in harmony with the environment. Utilizing natural materials and drawing inspiration from the surrounding landscapes, these retreats foster a deep connection with nature, art, and oneself.

What to do on your New Zealand elopement - Coromandel peninsula
What to do on your New Zealand elopement - kayak in glowworm cave

Kayaking the Fiordland Glowworm Caves

Paddle through the serene waters of Fiordland, a UNESCO World Heritage site, to explore hidden sea caves illuminated by the ethereal light of glowworms. This eco-friendly adventure offers a unique way to witness one of New Zealand’s natural wonders without disturbing the delicate ecosystem. The silent approach of kayaks ensures minimal impact on wildlife, allowing for a truly intimate experience with nature.

Hiking the Pouakai Crossing, Taranaki

Venture off the mainstream tracks and embark on the Pouakai Crossing in the Egmont National Park. This day-long hike takes you through ancient rainforests, alpine swamps, and past the stunning Pouakai Tarns, where you can capture the perfect reflection of Mt. Taranaki. Guided tours emphasize the ecological significance of the area, promoting conservation and respect for the natural habitat.

What to do on your New Zealand elopement - Pouakai crossing
What to do on your New Zealand elopement - central Otago winery tour

Eco-Friendly Wine Tour in Central Otago

Explore the vineyards of Central Otago on a guided cycling tour, sampling some of New Zealand’s finest wines right from the source. This region is renowned for its Pinot Noir, and cycling from vineyard to vineyard is not only eco-friendly but offers an intimate glimpse into the wine-making process. Many wineries practice sustainable farming, allowing you to enjoy the fruits of the land while supporting eco-conscious establishments.

What to wear for an elopement in New Zealand ? The wedding dress

What To Wear When Eloping In New-Zealand

The Dress

When you elope in New Zealand, you’ll inevitably be doing a lot of walking and adventuring around – when you’re in such a beautiful place, how could you not?! Make sure you choose a dress that’s easy to walk in. Opting for thin layers and lightweight fabrics like tulle and chiffon guarantees a comfier fit. Plus, they’ll look amazing in the wind! If you’re eloping in the winter time, or you’re expecting a bit of rain, some nude leggings under your dress will work wonders when it comes to keeping you warm.

The Shoes

Shoes will make a huge difference when it comes to how you feel on your elopement day. Spending the day in uncomfortable shoes that give you blisters is definitely not a good feeling, so make sure you wear shoes that are appropriate for what you’ll be doing. Heels and dress shoes may not work too well for exploring, but there’s something so badass about pairing hiking boots with your wedding attire! Just make sure they’re broken in before the big day.

The Suit

If you aren’t doing any hiking, or you’re eloping in the colder months, a three piece tuxedo can be great and keep you warm. But, in the summer it will quickly get too toasty. If you want to go a little more casual but still look nice, I recommend dress pants and a button up shirt.uquet.

Typical food and dishes from New Zealand

You might want to integrate into your elopement day

What to eat on your New Zealand elopement - Hangi


Dive into the roots of Maori tradition with Hangi, a unique cooking method that has been passed down through generations. Food wrapped in leaves is cooked in a pit dug in the ground, filled with hot stones. This process imparts a smoky, earthy flavor that is unmistakably New Zealand. Hangi can include a variety of ingredients, such as chicken, pork, and an array of root vegetables, all infused with the essence of the earth. It’s more than a meal; it’s a cultural experience, connecting you to the land and its people.

Green-Lipped Mussel Chowder

New Zealand’s waters are home to the distinctive green-lipped mussel, celebrated for both its size and flavor. A creamy chowder made with these mussels is a comforting showcase of local seafood, combined with potatoes, onions, and sometimes leeks, all simmered in a rich broth. This dish is a warm embrace from the sea, offering a taste of New Zealand’s pristine oceanic bounty.

What to eat on your New Zealand elopement - Green-Lipped Mussel Chowder
What to eat on your New Zealand elopement - Lamb rack with manuka honey

Lamb Rack with Manuka Honey

New Zealand’s lamb is world-renowned, and when paired with the native manuka honey, it creates a dish that’s both rooted in the land and elevated by the unique flavors found only in this corner of the world. The lamb is often herb-crusted and roasted or grilled to tender perfection, then glazed or served with a manuka honey reduction. This sweet and savory delight not only highlights the quality of local produce but also introduces you to the aromatic world of manuka, a treasure of New Zealand’s flora.

Elope in New Zealand – Your Checklist

Think about where you’d like to go

My advice to help you choose a location for your elopement (because there are so many to choose from!) is to think backwards. What kind of scenery do you want to see? Do you want to hike in the mountains, fly in a helicopter, see some wildlife? 

Start brainstorming what you want your elopement day to look like, and work from there! As a travel planner and an elopement photographer, one of my favorite parts of this job is finding secret, off the beaten path locations for couples who are eloping, so if you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out!

Pick a date

When you choose a date for your New Zealand elopement, keep in mind that weather will play a huge part in your elopement day. Research the weather, and choose a date that’s most likely to give you the temperatures you’re hoping for. I also recommend eloping on a weekday, because weekends draw out a lot more crowds! Eloping on a weekday guarantees you’ll have more privacy on your elopement day.

Find more information about travel visas and wedding documentation

Make sure your passports are up to date if you’re traveling internationally to elope in New Zealand, and research what you’ll need to legally elope here!

Book your accommodation

Once you know when and where you’re eloping, start researching flights and accommodation. It’s best to do this as early as possible, to ensure you’ll be able to find somewhere to stay near your elopement location!

Book your vendors

Many wedding and elopement vendors fill their schedules as far as a year or two out! So, it’s never too early to book your favorites. Inquire as soon as possible to ensure they have room for you on their schedule!

Live your dream elopement

This is it! Now you get to relax, and enjoy the day exploring New Zealand with the love of your life.


How to plan your peaceful elopement in New Zealand with me

Process-how to plan an elopement

Let’s dive in, so you can start your journey right away!

Imagine a wedding where you can be you. Breathe. Bask in each other’s love.
Experience a place close to your hearts, or a bucket-list dream.

New Zealand elopement packages by Zephyr & Luna

Let’s chat!

Are you eager to start planning your elopement in New-Zealand? I’m here to help you envision, plan and immortalize this beautiful adventure! Contact me now for a free consultation!

How to elope in New Zealand - the ultimate guide
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