Inspirational Places To Get Married In NZ
With our exceptional landscapes, incredible one-off venues and mix of vibrant cities, traditional towns and wide open unpopulated areas, New Zealand has become one of the world’s best-loved wedding destinations.
The last time that Statistics New Zealand published figures, the number of couples coming to New Zealand to tie the knot had soared from around 800 in the early 1980s to around 2000 by 2009 – and since we passed the Marriage Amendment Act in 2013 to allow same-sex couples to wed in New Zealand, those figures have been boosted by around an extra 400 per year.
So what is it about New Zealand which provides such a wonderful backdrop for a wedding?
At Walker & Hall, we think it’s all down to diversity with the country offering everything from the laid-back approach of a Waiheke Island winery to the mid-city splendour of the marae at Te Papa in the heart of Wellington.
So if you’ve already invested in the big engagement ring and you’re looking for inspiration about where to hold the main event, here’s our guide to New Zealand’s perfect (and occasionally strange) wedding locations:
New Zealand is very definitely a maritime nation meaning there are plenty of ways to get out on the water to host your special wedding day. From a luxury superyacht cruise on the Hauraki Gulf just a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of downtown Auckland or the chilled out beaches of the Coromandel Peninsula, to a blissful chartered yacht around the Bay of Islands, there are plenty of places where you can hold your wedding on board a boat.
Those who prefer less choppy waters could consider hiring a boat on Lake Wakatipu amongst some of the country’s most beautiful alpine scenery, or head to the heart of the North Island on Lake Taupo, Lake Tarawera, Lake Rotoiti or Lake Rotorua. Or, for those wanting to get right back to nature and travel back in time, how about a paddle-steamer up the Whanganui river?
Lord of the Rings is by far New Zealand’s most famous production and there’s plenty of Middle Earth fans who would enjoy tying the knot in any of the film locations around Queenstown, Wellington, Canterbury and Fiordland National Park. True devotees might enjoy having the original Mt Doom as their backdrop by heading to Mt Ngauruhoe in Tongariro National Park, but for the full immersive experience you should head to Hobbiton near Matamata.
Other film-related Kiwi wedding ideas could include Cathedral Cove, where The Chronicles of Narnia were shot; a period themed wedding on Auckland’s West Coast based around The Piano; or you could always see if Weta Workshops in Wellington could rent out props from their movies such as Avatar and King Kong.
Back to basics
Many Kiwis tend to enjoy a laid-back approach to life which points towards simplicity and elegance without resorting to huge banqueting halls. If you’re an inner city-type this might mean sourcing an industrial warehouse for an ultra-cool location, or if you’re a more rural couple, look to convert a barn into your perfect wedding location. Both of these ideas can provide a cost-effective way to host lots of people.
And for those who love the outdoors life, why not take over a campground for the weekend. There are plenty of DoC grounds where you could hold a wedding and the paired-back atmosphere gives any celebration the perfect Kiwi touch.
If there’s only the two of you plus a select number of guests then you can really push the boat out when it comes to locations in New Zealand. Take a helicopter to one of the many mountain tops in the central North Island or along the South Island’s alpine range; or a hot air balloon ride over the Canterbury plain; find one of the dozens of luxury retreats scattered around the more remote parts of New Zealand such as Great Barrier Island, Kawau Island, Whangaroa Harbour in the Far North, Abel Tasman National Park, The Catlins at the bottom of the South Island or Stewart Island; or combine your wedding with a multi-day tramp along one of the country’s many great walking trails.
Because New Zealand has developed a market for weddings, there are a select group of places which really sing out when it comes to planning a destination wedding.
Waiheke Island, thanks to its beautiful beaches and ever-growing number of wineries, is a popular place as is Hawke’s Bay for much the same reason. The tropical Bay of Islands and the spectacular Marlborough Sounds have wonderful backdrops and the Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo in Canterbury is world renowned for its scenery.
For classic locations at the top end of the market, New Zealand is also famous for its lodges and golf courses, but for those New Zealanders who think a little closer to home when it comes to a classic location, there’s nothing simpler and more Kiwi than your local hall, park, your favourite café or restaurant or your own backyard.
The big backdrop
To make a serious splash when it comes to wedding photos you’ll remember for a lifetime you can go really big and head to Aoraki Mt Cook or one of the thermal parks around Rotorua – or you can find a backdrop with a difference at an aquarium, ski field, wildlife park, museum or art gallery.
And if you want a backdrop with a difference, see if you can find an inner city rooftop location.