The Ultimate Elopement Guide in New Zealand

an image of a happy couple after their elopement in New Zealand

Do you want to get rid of that wedding planning stress and hassle? Want to travel to New Zealand and get married without all the stress? An elopement may be best for you. Every year couples from around the globe, and even from New Zealand choose to elope in New Zealand. An intimate elopement is one of the best and purest ways for two people to celebrate their love for one another, after all, that is what weddings really represent. There are many reasons why couples choose to elope, but for some, their marriage is just about the two of them at that moment with their love for one another - and that is enough reason for us. 

In this blog, we will help you get through the process of your elopement in New Zealand.

What is an elopement?

An intimate elopement, by definition, is a secret wedding. You don’t have to tell anyone and you don’t have to invite guests and get away to get married and announce your marriage after you return. While it does not have to be a secret, the idea remains that you want to reduce the amount of wedding planning and stress a traditional wedding has. But as elopement is increasing in popularity, it is now becoming about the adventure it brings -  heading to faraway places, an unforgettable holiday full of meaning, and a celebration with a very few people(4,5). Elopement in its essence is about getting away from everything and doing things your way.

Where should you start?

Legal Requirements

If you choose to elope overseas, you might have to prepare more paperwork in both countries that you are in. Check with your own country’s requirements first.

Choosing the Season and Time of the Year 

There really isn’t a ‘best’ time to elope in New Zealand, rather it depends on what season and what type of experience you want for your elopement. As a wedding photographer, we know that each couple has different preferences, so we aim to create an adventure best suited for you. If you choose to elope in New Zealand and do not really care about the season and mainly focus on the gigantic landscapes of the country, then any time of the year will work for you (2,3). But if you should know, New Zealand has two islands and different seasons - the north island has more of a sub-tropical climate while the south island has an alpine climate. The north island is better for tropical elopement while the south island is better for alpine and winter elopement. If you are looking to have a winter elopement, snow usually appears from June through October.

Location: North vs. South Island 

The main difference between these two islands is their climate, which creates a vast difference in their landscapes.

The North island is recommended if you want to have landscapes and backdrops that are colorful. A beach elopement would be perfect in the North island - having golden beaches and surreal coastal views. You will experience a warmer climate. You can experience an elopement in the forest.

The South island is recommended if you are looking for vast, gigantic, and dramatic landscapes for your elopement - filled with snow-capped mountains and turquoise lakes. You can have a winter elopement.

Wedding Venue

Your wedding venue will be a significant factor in how your wedding photos will look. You will have a plethora of places you can choose from, with a wide range from urban to natural locations. It is important that you choose a location and a venue that you can connect with and has meaning for you personally.

Best Places To Elope in New Zealand (6,7)

These are some of the most popular elopement and engagement shoot locations that you can find in New Zealand.

Beach Elopements

a beach elopement

Bay of Islands

The Bay of Islands is the home of the most jaw-dropping beaches and amazing views which makes it one of the best places to elope in New Zealand. You should explore the area and look for the best spot for you - you can even take a tour on a number of beaches and you can also find gorgeous mountain top views where you can also elope. But if you are looking for a winter elopement, this place is not for you.

Cathedral Cove 

Picture this, seemingly endless stretches of golden beaches with stunning rocky cliffs as your backdrop and the setting sun as your natural lighting. Yes, this is what Cathedral Cove naturally looks like. You can elope inside a cave with the ocean behind you and the waves as your background or if you are feeling adventurous and wouldn’t mind getting a bit of sand in your dress and even getting wet, then you can run into the water and get genuine candid shots (which is getting popular in recent times).

We would recommend that you elope during sunrise because of the sun rising behind you over the water which would arguably make the best scenes. But doing this during sunset would also be great! Sunsets offer a softer light to illuminate a seemingly darker area.

Tunnel Beach

Located on the south island, Tunnel Beach is rich in history, Maori culture, and an absolute haven for foodies. If you are looking for a striking landscape for your elopement then you have just found the perfect place! Tunnel Beach is one of the iconic spots for beach themed elopements. There is a bit of a walk before you arrive at the actual beach, but trust us it is totally worth the hike! Once you arrive at the beach you will be greeted by gigantic cliffs and stunning beaches.

Kare-kare Beach

Karekare beach is just located outside of Auckland. This beach has this unique landscape of black cliffs and black sand, creating a distinctive setting for your elopement. This location has huge open spaces along the beach creating a number of spots to shoot for amazing photos. You can elope on the sand with the beach, waves, and islands as your background, or you can head to the hills and elope on the grass - either way, you can never go wrong. 

Piha Beach

Piha Beach is one of the best places to elope in NZ. Hike up bush paths to arrive at long stretches of beaches. In Piha Beach, you have vast spaces you can work with. 

Lake Elopements

Moke Lake

What could be more ethereal than a lake themed elopement? Imagine having your elopement wedding down on a crystal clear still lake and being surrounded by mountains all around you. This is what you will get if you choose to elope in Moke Lake. It is very easy to access, being close to Queenstown and is perfect for those who are not very adventurous but still want a nature-themed elopement. 


In the heart of Aotearoa is Taupo, which offers absolute tranquility. A little bit of hike (if you are willing) will get you to the breathtaking views of the Emerald Lakes. While hiking you will pass stunning glacial rivers, steam vents, and amazing mountain views. This place has it all - lakes, mountains, and valleys. You can take your pick where you want to elope and we guarantee that whatever you pick you will have a great elopement and stunning wedding photos.


One of the wonders of the world, this place is a must-visit and explore in New Zealand. Lakes, mountains, hiking trails, National Parks, and valleys you name it and Glenorchy will give you an amazing spot to celebrate an intimate elopement. Holding a ceremony here would give you some amazing angles looking up from the valley into the mountains, instead of down from the mountains like most New Zealand Elopements.

Lake Hawea

Elope down on the crystal clear waters of Lake Hawea and be mesmerized by the views it can offer. Gigantic mountains surround you on either side which makes for epic portraits. There are a plethora of spots you can elope and shoot - from the grassy hills to the crystal lake you can never choose the wrong location. 

Mountain Elopements

an intimate elopement in the mountains of New Zealand

Queenstown (2)

Queenstown is one of, if not the most popular places to elope in New Zealand especially for couples, not from New Zealand. From the pristine surroundings, the bars and the nightlife, or that other amazing locations are very accessible from this area, but Queenstown really is one of the best places to elope. You can hire a helicopter here and head up to the mountain tops to elope or you can also hike (which is really worth the sweat) and elope on one of the most amazing rock formations in the country.

Coromandel Peak

You can choose to hike up to Coromandel peak from Lake Wanaka if you are feeling a bit adventurous, but it will really cost you some calories. So you can take the alternative of hiring a helicopter to take you to the peak, which is private property, which also means that you would have to get permission to elope in this location. In all honesty, it is not cheap, but definitely worth every penny. Coromandel Peak has wide and open views of Lake Wanaka and is surrounded by snow-capped mountains. 

Mount Cook

Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand, located on the south island. Being the highest mountain, it is only fair that it should be on this list. Of course, it isn’t just about being the highest peak but it also boasts being surrounded by mountains and lakes offering stunning views.

Choosing Your Guests and Wedding Vendors

Choosing who to invite in your elopement is crucial, and the same applies to the wedding vendors you choose to hire. Make sure you hire professional wedding vendors you can get along with and can personally connect. If this step is difficult for you do not shy away from contacting us so we can help you find professional wedding vendors who you can trust.


  1. https://www.myweddingguide.co.nz/article/1187/elopement-weddings-in-new-zealand
  2. https://www.chasewild.com/chasewild-journal/a-guide-to-intimate-weddings-in-new-zealand
  3. https://www.whoshoots.com/stories/how-to-elope-in-new-zealand/
  4. https://katecraigbrown.co.nz/couples/the-utlimate-guide-to-eloping-in-new-zealand/
  5. https://www.mountainweddings.nz/
  6. https://photographybyjameswhite.com.au/elope-in-new-zealand-new-zealands-best-places-to-elope/ 
  7. https://www.queenstownnz.co.nz/stories/post/5-top-spots-to-elope-to-in-queenstown/