How to Elope in New Zealand

A Complete Guide to Planning a New Zealand Elopement

Planning to elope in New Zealand? Well, this guide is for you! Learn all about eloping in New Zealand with location recommendations and more!

Hello, Friend. If you’re here, that means you must be thinking of eloping in New Zealand. And truly (and I hope the enthusiasm comes across here) that is the best. freaking. idea. ever! I could wax poetic about New Zealand for actual hours at a time and (hot take) I truly think it’s the best place in the world to have an elopement. In fact, I love it so much, it’s where my husband and I had our 10-year vow renewal. I can’t say enough positive things about this beautiful island and truly don’t think I could love it any more than I already do. Needless to say, I am so, so stoked for you to take this adventure and elope in New Zealand. Ready to start planning?

Why Eloping in New Zealand is the Best Idea Ever

In case the introduction didn’t clue you in already, I think eloping in New Zealand is pretty much the best idea a couple can have. The landscapes are off-the-charts stunning, the people are so wonderful and kind, the food is amazing, the access to adventure is unparalleled, AND it’s the real life, in the flesh Middle Earth (Lord of the Rings fans, you will lose your minds). It’s also an area that holds a very special place in my heart- I took a truly life-changing trip there with my husband and two good friends, and it was the origin place of “peak existence”… something you’ll see woven through my brand and outlook on life a lot. 

But before you start planning your New Zealand elopement, here are a few fun facts you may want to know:

  • New Zealand is made up of two distinct islands that couldn’t be more different from each other. The North Island is the more inhabited of the two and is also known for its geothermal activity, Maori culture, and beautiful beaches. If you want to strap up your hiking boots and explore the beauty that New Zealand is known for then the South Island is the place to go. It is filled with stunning mountains, glaciers, and fjords, allowing you to explore for weeks and still not experience all this land has to offer.  
  • No, a kiwi is not just a fruit- it’s also a bird (or a person born in New Zealand depending on how you use the word)! The country is known as the seabird capital of the world and is home to several varieties that can’t be found anywhere else. New Zealand LOVES their birds.
  • New Zealand also takes caring for its wild spaces very seriously. They are very environmentally forward and take great pride in the natural beauty
  • For every living person in New Zealand, there are 10 sheep! Seriously, the country is occupied by more sheep than people!
Bird takes flight off a house roof in New Zealand

How to Travel to New Zealand

Getting to New Zealand isn’t hard, but you may have to take a couple of flights to get there (unless you’re flying from a major airport like Chicago or Los Angeles which do offer nonstop options). Almost every flight into New Zealand will first land in the country’s largest city, Auckland (unless you’re flying from Australia). From there, you’ll need to take a second plane or travel by ferry or car to get to other major destinations like Queenstown. Renting a car is an absolute must- public transit is few and far between.

Pro Tip: You will need to have a visa to travel to New Zealand (along with a passport). The visa can all be done easily on your using the NZeTA app. Be advised to do this way ahead of time. I’ve heard tale of people not being allowed to leave the US for not having this completed ahead of time.

Pro Tip #2: I’ve said this a few places in this guide, but New Zealand takes caring for it’s wild spaces very seriously, so they will inspect any outdoor gear you bring into the country for your (think hiking boots, tents, backpacking packs). So if you are eloping in New Zealand or just visiting, all items must be clean of dirt, debris, mud, etc or they will be confiscated. Please envision me cleaning off my hiking boots with soap, water, and a toothbrush the night before leaving the US. Because that’s what I did haha.

Best Places to Elope in New Zealand

The best places to elope in New Zealand are going to depend on what you want to experience on your elopement day. Here are a few of my favorite places on the islands:

North Island

As I mentioned earlier, the North Island is known for its beaches and geothermal activity. The beaches around the Coromandel Peninsula are especially beautiful and are just a short trek from Auckland. If hot springs and mud baths sound like the perfect elopement activities, you can find some amazing spots in Rotorua located in the central region of the island. 

South Island

Mt Cook National Park

If you want to include climbing in your New Zealand elopement adventure, Mt Cook is definitely the place to do it. This mountain is the tallest in the country and- fun fact- it is the mountain that Sir Edmund Hillary climbed while preparing for his Everest expedition. Even if climbing isn’t your jam, there are lots of beautiful, short trails around the area that will give you stunning views even without the climb! There are long, “get-after-it” hikes… and more manageable hikes to check out if major elevation gain isn’t your thing. I loved hiking Hooker Valley Pass when I was there. There’s also an amazing hotel in the park, The Hermitage. This is 100% the closest lodging in Mt Cook, otherwise you’ll be driving about an hour from Twizel (which, as an aside, is a super charming little town!)

I do recommend this spot either at sunrise or sunset and definitely on a weekend. And bonus- there are some AMAZING spots just outside the park (do you love Lupines? Then this is 100% the area for you). Lake Tekapo is super close by (home to the very famous Church of the Good Shepard) where you have brilliant blue water and fields of colorful lupines mid November-December.

Fjiordland National Park

Bride and groom hold hands while walking around Mitre Peak during their Fjordland National Park elopement in New Zealand

If you want to experience it all during your elopement in New Zealand, then Fjorland National Park is the best place (no joke, this park has over 1 million acres to explore!). Eloping in Fjorland means you can experience fjords (u-shaped glacier-carved valleys that have been flooded by the sea), waterfalls, mountains, lakes, rainforests, and more. Within Fjordland National Park also lies another one of nature’s gems, the Milford Sound (read on for more on that magical place).

The hikes here are no joke, often climbing a ton of elevation in a short period of time.

Milford Sound

Bride and groom elopement photos at Milford Sound
Bride and groom hold hands while walking around Milford Sound during their New Zealand elopement

Okay I’m cheating her a little bit because Milford Sound is in Fjiordland National Park, but I love it so much I wanted to give it special attention. With the nickname, the “eighth wonder of the world” you won’t have to look far to see what makes the Milford Sound so special. Seeing this place truly changed my life. Not only is Milford Sound incredibly beautiful, but there are tons of activities to try when you elope here. Some of the best activities here include kayaking, going on a cruise tour, or chartering a helicopter to take you up to one of the many surrounding peaks. And as a fun plot twist- this place is even MORE incredible when it rains. Milford Sound is home to many dormant waterfalls- and they come alive when it rains. Truly- from my hotel window I counted something like 27 waterfalls on one single rock face.

Speaking of lodging! Milford Sounds is not easy to get to- its at the very end of the South Island and the nearest town Te Anau, can be up to 2 hours away (depending on traffic and the condition of the tunnel). A lot of folks will take tours in from Queenstown or Te Anau, then clear out around 4:00pm. There is *one* place to folks to stay in Milford Sound, and that is the Milford Lodge. If you are looking for splurge-worthy elopement lodging, this is it. I stayed here to celebrate my own 10 year wedding anniversary and would do it again in a heartbeat. Milford Lodge also has multiple RV hookups- so if you are exploring the island via camper van this is a truly great option.

See this incredible Milford Sound Elopement here.


Bride and groom kiss during their Queenstown elopement in New Zealand

One of New Zealand’s most well-known cities also happens to be one of the most beautiful! Located on the south end of the South Island, Queenstown is the place to go for everything from stunning views to thrilling adventures to peaceful atmospheres. Lots of helicopter tours fly out from this area and the town is filled to the brim with restaurants and beautiful accommodations making it the perfect place to stay during your elopement in New Zealand. Queenstown has been known as the adventure capital of the world, so it can be busy.

Queenstown has TONS of amazing places at it’s fingertips, but also has lots of creature comforts you might need for your elopement (think local hair and make up artists and florists). There are also tons of places to stay ranging from luxurious hotels (like the Azur) to incredible lakeside airbnbs with romantic hot tubs. Also- adventure lovers? The tours here are amazing. From waterfall canyoneering to horseback riding through a place *literally* called Paradise (shout out to High Country Horses who took me and my husband on the most amazing ride ever) you will never want for things to do. On your elopement day, or any other day you’re there.

Check out this Queenstown elopement for a day full of New Zealand elopement inspiration.

Abel Tasman National Park

A view of Abel Tasman's beaches in New Zealand.

Beach people- this one is for you. Although this park might be New Zealand’s smallest national park, don’t let that stop you from visiting here. Abel Tasman National Park is located along the northern coast of the South Island and is best known for its water activities. Seriously, this park offers everything from water taxis to kayaking, and sailing catamarans making it the perfect place to explore New Zealand’s coastline.

There are amazing places outside the park as well (think mirror flat beaches and craggy coasts). The nearest big town is Nelson, but there are smaller towns in the area with ample lodging. There’s also a lovely hotel in the park, the Awaroa Lodge.

Wanaka/Mt Aspiring National Park

I love this area- Wanaka is an amazing town (home to That Wanaka Tree) full of cool airbnbs, hotels, restaurants, and more. It’s an active place that isn’t quite so busy feeling as Queenstown. It’s also the gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park.

If you are keen on a helicopter elopement, this place is for you. There are dozens of amazing (totally private) mountain top locations you can fly to, including a place that looks just like Roys Peak, one of New Zealands most famous and picturesque hikes. It’s gotten quite busy and congested over the years, which is why this helicopter location is ideal. Nearly identical views but zero crowds (and you don’t have to hike the 10+ miles!).

Want to see more?

When to Elope in New Zealand

When choosing the best time to elope in New Zealand, there is one important thing to keep in mind- New Zealand’s seasons are opposite of ours here in North America. Because they are located below the equator, their seasons fall on different months of the year so a winter elopement in New Zealand will feel more like a summer elopement here in the U.S. 

Summer (Dec-Feb)

The summer season is by far the most popular time to elope in New Zealand. With longer, sunnier days and temperatures rising above the 60s and 70s (°F), these months are truly an ideal time to enjoy the many outdoor activities that New Zealand has to offer. 

Fall (March-May)

The fall months in New Zealand might just be one of the most relaxed seasons. The days are still full of light and good weather, while the trees burst into magical colors as the leaves turn for fall. The weather gets cooler during these months but is still perfect for getting outside and cycling or hiking. 

Winter (June-August)

If you ever felt like skiing in August, well then, in New Zealand you can! The winter months bring snow to the mountains, though the two islands will vary slightly in climate. The North Island tends to be more rainy while the South Island experiences more dry, but still cold days. 

Spring (September-November)

Spring brings life to New Zealand, but not just in the form of flowers (though the lupine season IS especially beautiful). From late August to November, lambing season takes place all over the country adding to the country’s impressive population of sheep. Keep in mind, that some of New Zealand’s most popular locations are closed during these months due to the new baby lambs that are born around the area. 

TLDR: What is the best month to elope? While the best month to elope in New Zealand will depend on the type of experience you want to have, my recommendation would be the first two weeks of December or the last two weeks of February. During this time you’ll experience the best weather New Zealand has to offer while avoiding most of the crowds during peak season.

Two men hug while looking out over the water during their adventure photo session in New Zealand
Two men kiss during their adventure photos in New Zealand

How to Get Around New Zealand

By car

Driving around the country during your New Zealand elopement is my top recommendation for getting around! Not only will you have the freedom to travel around at your own pace, but you’ll experience so much more of the natural beauty traveling by car. 

You can rent a car in New Zealand as long as you have a valid driver’s license. Keep in mind though that the New Zealand roads are narrow and winding which means it can take more time to get from point A to point B. 

PRO TOP: New Zealand drives on the right side of the road.

By helicopter or seaplane

Here’s the thing about New Zealand- it is *the place* for a helicopter elopement. From empty mountain tops, gorgeous glaciers, and the most fun elopement commute EVER, I cannot recommend a helicopter enough. In fact, I even recommend it over some hikes. A lot of popular New Zealand overlooks require steep, STEEP hikes. Instead of hiking your butt off, why not *fly* to your totally private ceremony location with a once-in-a-lifetime ride to a once-in-a-lifetime view? You can have absolute world class views with total privacy (and get to see alpine lakes, glaciers, waterfalls, and vistas you won’t even believe- often many of these in one flight if you make more than one landing). Truly- New Zealand is the BEST place for a helicopter elopement.

Check out this New Zealand Heli-Wedding!

Where to Stay for Your New Zealand Elopement

When it comes to finding a place to stay for your elopement in New Zealand, you have a few options:

Luxury hotels

If you want to go all out and elope in New Zealand in comfort and style, a luxury hotel is the way to go. Cities like Queenstown will have lots of options designed to fit any budget and style


New Zealand literally has some of the absolute best airbnbs I have ever seen. They are absolutely gorgeous. Airbnb is a great option if you want to find a unique place to stay or if you want to invite some guests along for your special adventure. Whether you want a unique apartment for two or a grand house to house you and your guests, you can find so many options to choose from.


This might just be one of my favorite ideas to include in a New Zealand elopement. Renting a campervan is so easy and with your transportation and accommodation all in one place, you’ll have more time and flexibility to explore. 

Bride and groom sit on a wood swing overlooking Milford Sound during their elopement in New Zealand

What Can You Do During Your New Zealand Elopement

What can you NOT do during your New Zealand elopement might be the better question! Seriously, there is so much to do in this small but mighty country and if you love adventure and the great outdoors, then I truly can’t think of many places that have more to offer than New Zealand. Genuinely- the sky is the limit.

If you’re looking for things to do when you elope in New Zealand, here are a few ideas:

  • Helicopter tour
  • Skydiving
  • Bungee jumping
  • Go kayaking
  • Cruise around Milford Sound
  • Take a ride on a seaplane
  • Hike some of the countless trails
  • Ride horses
  • Visit a glow worm cave (honest? one of my favorite activities)
  • Visit a glacier (Seeing Franz Joseph on my first trip was life changing!)
  • Tour a volcano
  • Soak in some hot springs or mud bath
  • Experience Maori culture
  • Ziplining
  • Visit a winery
  • Explore Hobbiton or other Lord of the Rings filming locations
  • Go waterfall canyoneering
  • Take a multi-day backpacking adventure on one of New Zealands famed great walks

Can You Legally Get Married During Your New Zealand Elopement?

US citizens rejoice- Yes you can! But lots of folks opt to get legally married before or after their trip simply for sake of ease.

If you DO want to get legally married while you are in New Zealand, you will need to have your ceremony presided over by a New Zealand citizen (like the amazing Philippa Thomas- Queenstown celebrant) and have two witnesses. You will also have to fill out some paperwork and apply online. All the logistics (along with that form) can be found here.

Meet Your New Zealand Elopement Photographer

Hi, I’m Aimee, your New Zealand Elopement photographer and I am so stoked you are considering eloping in New Zealand (like seriously SO STOKED)! I’m based in the southwest United States, but New Zealand will always have a very special place in my heart. Not only was the theme of peak existence born here (during a life-changing trip I went on with some friends which you can read about here), but it’s also the place my husband and I chose for our 10-year vow renewal. I hope every couple gets to experience a place that makes them feel alive on their wedding day and if New Zealand is that place for you, to that I say hell. Yes. 

Below are a few items that are included in all my elopement packages:

  • An exclusive 84-page elopement planning guide
  • Unlimited planning assistance with all things elopement and logistics. This includes (but is not limited to) customized location guides for your New Zealand elopement, local vendor referrals from industry folks I have worked with before and trust, careful elopement timeline creation, an elopement packing list, local gems and recommendations to check out (both wedding related and fun related), and just general elopement hype woman.
  • Personalized and custom timeline creation- no two elopements are the same and your day will be far from cookie cutter
  • Your photographer (me) guaranteed to be in the area the day before and the day after your elopement. Weird things happen with travel and I want to have ultimate flexibility on the off chance we need to pivot some plans 🙂
  • Online gallery of beautiful high-res images and full printing rights (so you can print your photos on postcards, posters, the side of a yacht, whatever floats your boat ;).
  • All packages include photographer travel expenses

Eight Hour Package: $11,000 | Twelve Hour Package: $13,000 | Two Day Package (Two Eight Hour Days): $15,000

View More Info on Pricing and Packages

Feeling stoked but not ready to reach out yet? I totally get it. In the meantime…

Follow me on Insta for more New Zealand inspo!

(plus lots of other adventurous antics!)

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— Ryan + Styhiln

Ready to have your own adventure of a lifetime?
I'm Aimée Flynn, Southwest based adventure wedding and elopement photographer, mega nerd, former therapist, and taker of the epic pics. But don't think I'm here just to take pretty photos (though there will be pretty photos a-plenty) I’m here to guide you through every step of your elope elopement experience; I’m your location scouter, gatherer of all in info, formal wear wrangler, & hype committee. 

I’m also a storyteller. Your storyteller. And while I'm here for the epic, magazine-cover-worthy, totally bananas moments, I'm also here (and to be totally honest, live for) those goofy, silly, unexpected moments that adventure always seems to bring. I'm here to tell your story in the honest and epic fashion it deserves.
Hey friend, I'm so stoked  you're here!

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