Where to elope in New Zealand!
mount cook and lake in new zealand

Where to elope in New Zealand!

Guess what!? I’m headed to New Zealand! I’ve been researching the area like crazy, and there are some amazing sights to see all around the country. I’ve booked some extra time for exploring and maybe to shoot an elopement or two while I’m there. Read on for tips on eloping in New Zealand, and to get a glimpse of my top dream photoshoot locations!

Cover photo by Welcome Home

Why and When to Elope in New Zealand

The most obvious reason to elope in New Zealand is the scenery. As you’ll see in my top five locations below, there are so many different landscapes in New Zealand to match whatever your style is. The peak season for visiting New Zealand is from December to March, since that’s when many of the visiting tourists are escaping their winter to be in New Zealand’s summer. March to June is considered a shoulder season, which means less crowds, but still great summer and fall weather. Entering into April, you’ll even get some autumn colours and a bit of rainfall, which is the perfect weather to visit Milford Sounds.

Tips for Eloping in New Zealand

Before we get into the top five locations, let’s go through some quick tips for eloping in New Zealand:

  • Whether or not you’re from New Zealand, get a marriage license!
  • If you’re not from New Zealand, follow these steps to make sure you’ve got all the paperwork in order to get married.
  • Especially when in a national park, as is the case with a few of these locations, it’s very important to follow the Leave no Trace principles, properly disposing of any waste and not taking any of the beautiful nature home with you as a souvenir.
  • Enjoy yourselves! Cast all your cares on me and I’ll go beyond my photographer role to help you plan and prepare, making sure you feel as carefree on the day as you can.

Top 5 Dream Elopement Locations in New Zealand

1) Mount Cook National Park

During my research, Mount Cook National Park stuck out to me as my absolute top dream photoshoot location in New Zealand. It is home to New Zealand’s tallest mountain and, since it is in a national park, is completely surrounded by nature. The opportunities for photos are endless. You can set up by the striking blue Lake Pukaki with the immense Mount Cook towering in the background. Or you can climb the mountain itself and get some pictures overlooking the vast national park below. Or you can even get a helicopter to take you up the mountain and turn the whole session into a helicopter elopement photoshoot! Important note: if you are planning to get married in the national park, there are some fees involved from the park, which vary depending on the level of involvement required from their staff.

With the breathtaking height of the mountains in this park, they remain crowned with snow all year long. The glaciers and snow fields provide a gorgeous backdrop, whether you’re up on the mountain or exploring the park below. There are multiple opportunities for taking short mountain walks, longer hikes like the gorgeous Hooker Valley, or even ski runs down the slopes! So after you say I do, you can take some time to enjoy the stunning scenery together.

couple on path hiking hooker valley in mt cook national park in new zealand

Photo from Chloé and Ludvig, subscribe to their youtube channel @chloeandludvig to see more of their New Zealand adventures

2) Milford Sounds

Milford Sounds is an absolutely picturesque, glass-like reflecting fiord surrounded by rocky cliffs, towering mountain peaks, and rich New Zealand rainforests. Literally hundreds of waterfalls cascade down the steep cliff sides, their exact number depending on recent rainfall. Their volume can range from tiny trickles along the rock to full on rushing falls. Lady Bowen Falls and Stirling Falls are the two main permanent waterfalls in the area, each gushing from the edge of a rainforested cliff into the fiord. They say when it rains, it only adds to the splendor, which is one incredible upside to this particular location: in bad weather, it is almost more beautiful. A common activity here is boat touring, so you could hop on board a miniature cruise after the elopement and explore the whole area from the water!

Photos from Chloé and Ludvig, subscribe to their youtube channel @chloeandludvig to see more of their New Zealand adventures

3) Tongariro Alpine Crossing

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a truly awe-inspiring location, but its terrain takes more time and effort to traverse, so you have to be up for an adventure. If you are down for this unique, once-in-a-lifetime hike, the views around every corner are absolutely stunning. The vast, dramatic scenery would be an insane backdrop for a memorable New Zealand elopement.

Along the trek, you will encounter majestic emerald lakes surrounded by steam vents that send wisps of fog up from the ground. It’s crucial to remain on the marked paths, as these vents are so hot they can actually cause severe burns. After the emerald lakes is the true icon of the trip: the red crater, an indescribable show of grandiosity. In fact, this area is riddled with so many examples of unique and vast terrain, it was used as a filming location for the Lord of the Rings. If you want to have an elopement photoshoot with matchless dramatic visuals, this is the place to do it.

elope at tangariro in new zealand

Photo from Chloé and Ludvig, subscribe to their youtube channel @chloeandludvig to see more of their New Zealand adventures

4) Omarama Clay Cliffs

I chose the Omarama Clay Cliffs as another dream location because it is so unique from the other landmarks and parks in New Zealand’s natural landscape. The colourful geological formations make for a vibrant, uncommon backdrop, stretching up in columns so steep it almost feels like walking inside a canyon. The area is private land, but there’s a simple donation box in which to place a five dollar vehicle admission fee when you arrive. One thing I love about this area is there are no set paths, so you can feel free to explore along the scree however you see fit. It’s a short walk from the parking area up to the cliffs, but mind that it can get busy during the high point of the day, so this is definitely a better location for a sunrise or a sunset elopement (which would look amazing against that orange rock!).

couple photoshoot at omarama clay cliffs in new zealand

Photo from Chloé and Ludvig, subscribe to their youtube channel @chloeandludvig to see more of their New Zealand adventures

5) Hobbiton

I couldn’t talk about dream locations without mentioning Hobbiton, the site of the Shire from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. You don’t have to be a super fan to just love the enchanting and adorable setting of rolling green hills, a luscious landscape, and the little Hobbit Hole homes that dot the countryside. Perfectly round doors, wooden water wheels, and stone bridges over the water all make for the most charming backdrops. There is a cost of $1,500 for wedding photography on the set, which also gives you access to more private spots, so that is a notable consideration for this delightful little location.

how to elope in Hobbiton in New Zealand

Photo from Chloé and Ludvig, subscribe to their youtube channel @chloeandludvig to see more of their New Zealand adventures

Book a Shoot!

elopement photographer hiking in mountains

I’m so excited to set off for this trip in March and explore some of the New Zealand parks and landmarks that make it so breathtakingly beautiful. If you want to book a photoshoot or an elopement while I’m there, I promise to make the day as stellar as the incredible nature that will surround you. If your dates fall outside of the March-April window, let me know anyway! I am absolutely down to extend my trip or make a return one if needed! Click here to contact me about dates, times, and your own dream locations. As always, I can’t wait to hear from you!

Elopement Tips

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11/29/2022

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heyyy!!

I’m your elopement hype girl and a photographer for the goofball lovers + those who want to make their wedding day an adventure. I’m also the owner of a converted camper van and love exploring the outdoors. You’ll find my heart on this blog. Whether it’s documenting my real life couples or giving my brides + grooms the tips + tricks they need to plan their best elopement, I’ve poured my heart out for you here. 

I'm Liv Hettinga

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Where to elope in New Zealand!

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"Liv is extremely talented and great to work with! She gave us enough direction in our shoots to know what to do but still left tons of room for candid, genuine moments. Nothing beats seeing real smiles and laughter in your photos! She was more than willing to collaborate and go for some sillier ideas, and was always super encouraging. She's an incredibly sweet person and we felt very comfortable to be ourselves around her. Liv's talent is beyond just the technical knowledge, she really has an artist eye for beautiful photos. Her editing style is perfect, not too dark or light but still brings personality with the warm tones she adds. I HIGHLY recommend working with Liv!!"

- Cassie + Matt

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