The ultimate guide to elope in NEW ZEALAND – tips and ideas for an adventure elopement in NEW ZEALAND
Backcountry 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!
First, let’s be sure we’re talking about the same thing:
1) 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!
2) 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!
3) Why Elope in New Zealand?
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.
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.
4) 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.
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!
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, 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.
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!
5) 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.
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!
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!
6) How Much Does it Cost to Elope in New Zealand?
Travel to and from New Zealand: $1.500
Five nights in high-end accommodation: $2.000
Elopement photographer: $7.000
Private chef or full board: $2.000
Marriage licence: $98
Wedding dress and accessories: $4.000
Suit and accessories: $1.000
Total for a high-end elopement in New Zealand: $19.598
Travel to and from New Zealand: $1.500
Five nights in an Airbnb: $700
Elopement photographer: $7.000
Marriage licence: $98
Wedding dress and accessories: $2.000
Suit and accessories: $400
Total for a budget elopement in New Zealand: $13.098
Avoid the stress, family drama and financial chaos that comes with traditional weddings. Surrender to a “just us” adventure elopement instead.
Hi! I’m Amber, your elopement photographer, planner and guide.
Together we plan your dream elopement itinerary in New Zealand over 1, 3, 7 or 12 days.
Let’s plan your all-inclusive adventure elopement in New Zealand
7) What to Wear
With so many different climate zones, it can be difficult to pack for New Zealand! The country is known for slightly unpredictable rainfall, so always make sure to bring a rain jacket, some spare socks, and maybe even some rain boots for your elopement.
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.
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.
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.
8) Elope in New Zealand – Your Checklist
Choose a Location
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.
Learn About Travel Visas
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 Flights and 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!
Elope in Your Dream Location!
This is it! Now you get to relax, and enjoy the day exploring New Zealand with the love of your life.
Interested in adventuring with me as your New Zealand elopement photographer?
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12) Elopement Galleries
- Marine & Etienne – An overnight post-wedding session near Lyon
- Kristina & Tyler – A chateau Challain elopement followed by a 10-days honeymoon in France and Italy
- Imogen & Paul – An overnight mountain elopement near Switzerland
- Elodie & Dean – A post-wedding session in Scotland
- Laura & Ben – A forest elopement in the Highlands
- Misha & Chris – A 5-days elopement in the Japanese forests
How I Can Help Plan Your Peaceful Elopement in New Zealand
Schedule a Consultation
I’m not a fan of sales calls – so don’t worry, that’s not what this is. We’ll talk about you, your vision for your elopement day, and how we can make that happen.
Book your date
Once we settle on a date, I’ll send you an invoice and a contract, and then you’re officially booked!
I’ll plan your dream elopement
I’m more than just an elopement photographer – as a travel planner, one of the best parts of my job is guiding couples to their dream day. I’ll help with everything from vendors, to permits, to the timeline.
Live your adventure
Now you get to elope and have the peaceful, meaningful wedding day that was custom crafted, just for you.
Relive this day forever
I’ll send you your photos, and then you get to look at them and remember the best day of your life, forever.
Let’s plan your peaceful elopement
Where you can be you. Feel. Breathe in each other’s love.
Experience a place close to your hearts, or a bucket list dream.
Need more inspiration for your elopement?
Check out this brand new article about the best places to elope IN THE WORLD
Have I won you over with New Zealand yet?
New Zealand is such an amazing destination for an adventure elopement!
As an elopement photographer, planner and guide, I offer a range of option that all include planning and photography, from 5 hours all the way to your ultimate 14-day elopement and honeymoon gateway in New Zealand. As part of my photography service, I will help you choose and plan the perfect elopement day(s) from crafting the whole day program to helping you choose amazing vendors and book your accomodation and flights.
Contact me now to get started!