Eloping is a truly amazing way to go about getting married. Traditional weddings are on a downward trend, being replaced by smaller micro weddings, and of course, elopements. The reasons behind why eloping has become so popular are pretty epic. If you want to check out the 11 major benefits of eloping, check out ‘Eloping vs wedding‘. But you’re here for a comprehensive list of the best places to elope in New Zealand, and heck, even the best destination elopement locations across the world, so here it is, my top 23 best places to elope in New Zealand.
Best Places to Elope
I wanted to make things easy for you to find what you wanted in this article, so first of all, there is a table of contents at the top, so you can simply click to whatever you are looking for. Secondly, I have separated sections into elopements based on the geographical vibe. If you are looking for a beach elopement, an elopement location on a mountain top, or even a gorgeous lakeside elopement location, you can easily navigate through here to find them. So let’s do it, my top 23 best places to elope in New Zealand.
1. Bay of Islands
Home of gorgeous beaches, bays, and valleys, surprise surprise, this spot in New Zealand is one of the best places to elope in NZ! You can explore the area and find a number of gorgeous beaches which you could elope on, you could even take some of the suggested day walks and find a beautiful lookout or mountain top to elope on. If you are looking for that gorgeous snowcapped mountain range to elope on though, something like what Jared and Claudia had in their Crown Ranges Elopement, this spot may not be the one for you.
However, a short walk and a bit of know how will take you to a place called Rainbow Falls, a 27m high waterfall, crashing down into one of the most gorgeous lagoons. Get married on the rocks with that in the background, and afterwards head up the rocks behind the waterfall, give me your phones, and jump in, trash the dress style! You won’t regret it and the photos will be epic.
2. Cathedral Cove
Think long stretches of golden beach, stunning jagged rocks and cliffs jutting out in the background and a sun setting over crashing waves. Your elopement ceremony could actually be held, inside a cave, facing out towards the ocean as the waves crash behind you. Then all you have to do is step outside, and go for a walk along the beach for the perfect portraits. If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, and want to run into the water fully clothed for a Trash the Dress (which are becoming a lot more popular in recent times amongst the adventurous, wild community), then go for it!
As a side note, I would be doing this one for a Sunrise session personally due to the sun rising over the water behind your elopement ceremony, but in saying, the softer light that would come with a sunset would also make this one of the best places to elope in New Zealand either way!
3. Tunnel Beach, Dunedin
Located on the Central Eastern Coast of the stunning Otago Region on New Zealands South Island, Dunedin is a location steeped in history, celebrations of Maori culture, and an absolute foodies haven. All we need is striking landscapes to make this one of the best places to elope in NZ, and guess what, surprise surprise, it has just that! If you are after that iconic Dunedin location to elope, hit up Tunnel Beach. There is a bit of a walk down to the actual beach, but once you pop out from the rock steps, you are engulfed by gigantic sandstone cliffs and stretches of beach.
If you hit this spot up at Sunrise, you will get the sun rising over the water and some amazing shots, but at sunset you will get that soft light. My suggestion would be to have your elopement up on a grassy hill overlooking the amazing rock arch, and then head down to the beach for an epic photoshoot.
4. Hot Water Beach
An absolutely stunning beach, with a twist. Two hours either side of low tide, and you can dig your own hot spa in the sand. Yep, that’s right. Now that’s cool and all, but for eloping, we probably don’t care about digging spas, and also won’t want tourists everywhere trying to do likewise, right? So I would suggest to time it outside of that ‘hot spa’ window. Because, outside of this window and you have an amazing elopement location right here. Stand up on the cliff tops, covered in long flowing grass and look down onto the beach and the sheer rock faces, a brilliant spot to have your elopement ceremony. Then head down to the beach for your actual photos, extra points for a rainy day, you will have the entire beach to yourself!
5. Piha Beach
Another of New Zealands best places to elope, hike up the bush path to the lookout which stretches over Whites Beach. You could choose to elope up here, with the ocean and coastline drifting off into the distance beneath you (this would be my choice), or, you could go down to the actual beach, get married on the sand with either the water behind you, or do something different and spin around to have the sheer black sandstone behind you for a really differing, contrasty effect. Highly recommend this one at sunset to avoid harsh highlights during your photos, and give you that gorgeous sunset soft skin.
6. Karekare Beach
Located just outside Auckland, Karekare Beach, black cliff faces, black sand, this absolutely sleek little beach elopement spot is epic for a reason. With huge open spaces all along the beach there is really ample spots to create some amazing images. Either have your ceremony on the black sand with the coastline and islands in the background (my recommendation), or head up on the hills amongst the grass and elope there. But if you are looking for that incredibly amazing, vast landscape you’ve seen all over Pinterest and Instagram, do it on the beach, it is the perfect spot for an elopement and photos.
The heart of Aotearoa, Taupo is absolute serenity. Hike up to the Tongarino Alpine Crossing for one of the most breathtaking views out over Ngarotopounamu (also known as the ‘Emerald Lakes’). Along the way you will cross Glacial rivers, pass steam vents and be surrounded by some of the most gorgeous mountains. This one has it all, mountains, lakes, valleys, take your pick! The waters are so blue it will trip you out, and the glassy effect makes for stunning wedding portraits. Tongarino Alpine Cross in Taupo should be on everyone’s list of possible spots to elope in NZ. Just be aware of the Cultural significance to the Maori people in whatever you do and always stay aware of all rules when accessing the area.
8. Moke Lake
Did you ever imagine your elopement ceremony, down on a crystal clear, still lake, surrounded by mountains all around you? If that was how you imagined your wedding, then you’re in luck. This place actually reminds me a little bit of Banff in Canada in its natural beauty and vibe. Super easy to access and really close to Queenstown, it makes things so easy for those of you who aren’t really keen to do a hiking trip to your ceremony spot. Rain hail or shine (fingers crossed no hail though), Moke Lake is hands down, one of the best places to elope in New Zealand, and probably the world. Just make sure you go for a bite at Fergberger afterwards!
One of the wonders of the world, and possibly my favourite (so far) place to visit and explore in New Zealand. Lakes, mountains, hiking trails, National Parks, you name it and there is somewhere to hold an epic elopement ceremony. Head up the Humboldts at the head of Lake Wakitipu for some stunning mountain range locations, or head down into the valley around Paradise to find some empty lakes to walk along. Holding a ceremony down 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.
Not saying one is better than the other, but if you wanted something a bit more unique and adventurous, lake valleys might be the go. From there head into Mount Aspiring National Park and shoot amongst the giant pine trees for a completely different vibe (extra points if it’s cold and misty).
10. Lake Hawea
Elope on the pebbles down by the crystal clear water at Lake Hawea. Huge mountains drift off into the background and surround you on either side, this is an epic elopement location. Do not use an arbour here, it will only get in the way of the beauty of the Lake, instead opt for some floral pillars on either side of you and a Persian rug beneath you. As for your portraits, why go anywhere else? With some amazing little spots around the area, the crystal clear lake and lovely grassy hills, there is a heap of variety. I mean if you want to go mental, and splurge, you could always charger a helicopter and fly to Coronet Peak, Coromandel Peak or up to one of the many lookouts around Queenstown.
11. Lochnagar Valley
Want to feel like you’ve travelled to Scotland to elope, without having to spend all the time and money? Lochnagar (yes, there is one in Scotland too) is your spot. For me, one of the best places to elope in NZ, this Alpine Lake, running deep through the Mount Aspiring National Park is pretty epic. Jump in a helicopter to fly up the top of the mountain for those gorgeous views down onto the Lake, or elope down the bottom on the actual Lake, and be engulfed by surrounding mountains. Mountain tops, jagged overhanging cliff ledges, tussock covered hills and crystal clear alpine lakes…yep, take your pick.
12. Mount Cook
Mount Cook is the highest Mountain in New Zealand, located in the Southern Alps of the South Island. As far as mountainous elopement locations go, the highest mountain in the country seems like it would be right up there. With so many surrounding peaks and lakes, you can either get married on the ground level by the lake with mountains looming over you, or if you want to go on a bit of a hike (or get a helicopter if you want to splurge on that), you can get married on one of the peaks.
13. Crown Ranges
Only a short 35 minute drive outside of Queenstown are the Crown Ranges which separate Queenstown and Wanaka. Probably one of the most scenic drives in the South Island (and there are many), there are so many spots to elope up here. On the Queenstown side you have Queenstown, the mountains and the lake as your backdrop. Continue to the Wanaka side and you have long wispy grass, lakes, and more mountains. The Crown Ranges drive is popular, so if you go in peak season, be aware you will likely hit some crowds. Be willing to walk for the perfect Crown Ranges elopement spot.
Queenstown is probably one of, if not the most popular place in NZ, especially for foreign travelers to elope. Maybe it’s the pristine surroundings, the great bars and nightlife for you to enjoy during your stay, or its’ centrality to other great locations, but Queenstown is one of the best places to elope, hands down. Head up the top to Cecil Peak, or if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, head up the Remarkables and elope on top of one of the most amazing rock formations in the country. You can get a chopper up here, but trust me, the hike, if you’re down, is well worth it and will provide you with not only amazing images, but memories to cherish forever.
15. Coromandel Peak & Roys Peak
You can hike up to Roys Peak from a few points around Lake Wanaka, but trust me when I say this…it is not easy! You can always get a helicopter up to Coromandel Peak, which is actually private property, so technically speaking, you need permission to access it. It isn’t cheap, but it is totally worth it. Wide open views of Lake Wanaka and the surrounding snow-capped mountains, eloping on Coromandel Peak needs no introduction. Be wary though, it gets super cold and windy up there, so bring a jacket, you don’t want to turn blue in your photos.
16. Cardrona Ski Resort
Another one of the South Islands gorgeous ski fields turn elopement ceremony location. Be aware that if you get a really windy day, you probably will not be able to fly to the peak, but you will be in good hands and your pilot will be able to find a nice sheltered spot with an absolutely to die for backdrop to get married against. There are parts of the mountain that have really dense green and orange tones, loads of rocks and kind of give off that “Scotland Highlands’ or Irish Countryside vibe, which is epic, until you turn around and are surrounded by massive snowcapped jagged mountain ranges. Best of all worlds.
17. Te Mata Peak
I love Te Mata Peak, not just because of how beautiful it is, but also because of how easy it is too access. If you are after something a bit more secluded, a bit more adventurous, this might not be for you, but if you are after an epic location with amazing, vast landscapes, without the hassle of hours of hiking, Te Mata Peak might be the elopement location for you. Once up at the lookout, feel free to walk off the beaten path and find the perfect outlook for your elopement ceremony. After you’re done, just walk around the mountain, you will find so many outlooks, cliffs, rocky sections that will create the perfect photos for you.
18. Earnslaw Burn
This one is for the more adventurous. The Track itself takes around 8-12 hours to complete, so you will need to allow a full day, and be prepared to probably leave before sunrise, or return after sunset. But the reward, is so worth it! I mean, the hike alone is going to be absolutely jaw dropping as you meander through deep Valleys, engulfed by massive, jagged snow capped mountains. Realistically, any vantage point along this walk is likely to make a beautiful spot to have your elopement ceremony.
Don’t pre-determine a spot, leave it up to chance on the day, your photographer will assess the light and you will all be able to pick the most amazing spot for the ceremony. After that, there are rock faces, cliffs, valleys, lakes, and a tonne of waterfalls at your disposal to shoot with, honestly, it feels so very Scandanavian, it will make you think you have journeyed up to Norway!
19. Coronet Peak
Only a short 15 minute drive from Queenstown, Coronet Peak is worth it for the drive alone. Heading up the winding mountainside, there are so many spots to pull over and have your ceremony. If you stop at the Coronet Peak Rd Lookout, you will have the ceremony looking down onto Lake Wakatipu, but if you drive a bit further up you will be looking down into the canyon, surrounded by mountains and the sun setting behind you. This popular ski field has so many amazing spots for photos after your elopement ceremony, so take a but of time to explore. I recommend during snow season, as the snow beautifully offsets the deep green ground and shrubbery. If you choose to elope elsewhere, but wanted to do photos on Coronet Peak, you can by simply flying up there.
20. Twin Peaks
Almost like Coromandel Peaks little brother, this spot has a pretty similar lookout over Lake Wanaka. What’s the difference? Well it is so much less frequented, and for some reason, less popular. But what does that mean for you? It’s cheaper to land there!! Literally anywhere will be an ideal elopement ceremony location, just position yourself for lovely lighting (your photographer will help you). Once you are done, there are some really cool rocky ledges and sections of the mountain to take photos, if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous.
21. Cecil Peak
One of the most prominent mountains in the area, Cecil Peak is a gorgeous snow capped (if you go at the right time of year) mountain on the Southside of Lake Wakatipu. Covered in long flowing tussocks of grass and rocky outcrops, this is another spot you can simply find so many places to elope on. I mean, seriously, just look at the light and set up, you can’t go wrong. You can walk up the trail to get to the peak, but be warned, it will take you all day, so it might be worth contemplating chartering a helicopter to get you up there in style.
22. Redwoods Forest
With over 5,600 hectares of Forest at your disposal, you are bound to find something here. This is a bit different to what you would normally see coming out of New Zealand in regards to elopements, but it is spectacular none the less. If you are looking for that really dense, burnt tones and dark greens then this is your spot. No need for helicopters or huge day hikes to reach your location, it’s right here for you to explore. One of the things about Pine Forests that rock, is that it is almost always good lighting. Morning? Yep. Middle of the day? All good…you can’t go wrong with a Pine Forest elopement. So if you’re looking for something a bit different to the usual Mountains or Lakes you see all over Instagram and Pinterest for your New Zealand elopement, maybe give Redwoods forest a look over.
23. Hunua Falls
You have a few options here. Some people opt to get married and do their elopement ceremony up amongst the tall pine trees in the forest. This works amazingly if it is a bit foggy or has been raining. However, my pick, is to take the Hunua Falls Loop Walk track to the actual falls, find yourself a spot right at the base of the waterfall in front of it on the grass, and hold your ceremony here. Get some beautiful floral arrangements to frame you and you have yourself one absolutely epic shot here, and an undoubtedly gorgeous location for your elopement ceremony.
Anywhere! Honestly, this list covers my favourite 23 places to elope, but you can elope anywhere you like. Travel to NZ, go on some hikes with your partner, and if you find a spot you think would be perfect, remember it. Tell your celebrant or photographer and they will work with you to have your elopement there.
This is pretty simple, either go to the Registry office, or have a celebrant (or Religious figure) who is legally allowed to marry couples, marry you. A lot of people go to the registry, and then go on an epic adventure to say their vows and get amazing photos.
Yes! Of course they can, you do not need to be a New Zealand citizen in order to get married in NZ.
Yes, and thank god for that!
In New Zealand you will pay $240 to go to the registry office and get married. If you want a celebrant, you will need to pay extra, with an average around $1,000 which can range upwards for better, more in demand celebrants.
On average, an Australian wedding costs about $36,000, and an Elopement costs approximately $9,500. So it totally depends on which path you want to take.
Best places to elope in the world
Now, let’s face it, there are so many amazing elopement locations, scattered all across the world. To try and cover a comprehensive list of the best elopement locations in the world would be endless. So for those of you who are on the other side of the planet, or for those of you who want to make much more of an adventure out of your elopement, here is a quick list of the best destination elopement locations in the world.
One of the most scenic places in the world to elope, and for obvious reason. Striking landscapes, dense green mountains and waterfalls everywhere, this is a world wide favourite destination elopement location. Below is a list of the 5 best places to elope in Norway.
Elope in the USA
A super popular place to elope, covering vast landscapes, mountainous terrain, gorgeous coastal locations and even some amazing urban spots to elope. If you want to elope in a ridiculously fun place, the USA probably has a place for you. So below are my 19 best places to elope in the USA.
Southwestern USA, Arizona should be on your list of elopement locations in the USA if you are after that stunning, burnt orange rocky landscape. It almost looks other worldly, and below are for me, the 2 best elopement locations in Arizona!
Cliff bordered beaches, huge mountains, National Parks and stunning forests. Yep, California is not one of the most popular states in the USA to visit, but one of the best places to elope in the USA. Below are my top 4 best places to elope in California.
3. Big Sur
5. Joshua Tree
Known for it’s stunning mountain landscapes, gorgeous National Parks and epic beaches, here are my favourite 2 places to elope in Oregon.
8. Canon Beach
Probably known as the most fun place to elope, thank you Las Vegas, there is so much more to Nevada than the Vegas Strip. Check out my 6 best places to elope in Nevada.
10. Vegas Strip
11. Valley of Fire
12. Dry Lake Bed
13. Neon Boneyard
14. Grand Canyon
If you haven’t seen an epic elopement from Colorado, then honestly, what are you doing with yourself. I really don’t need to say too much about the stunning landscapes that make this a fan favourite, so here we go, my 3 favourite places to elope in Colorado.
15. Maroon Bells
17. Pikes Peak
Utah has always been a fascination of mine. Coming from Australia, we have absolutely nothing like it. The huge rocky national parks, the gorgeous burnt orange tones, it’s just stunning. Here are 2 of my favourite places to elope in Utah.
Elope in Italy
Italy is well known for being one of the most romantic countries in the world. It is a serious contender for global elopements. With stunning mountain ranges, gorgeous European architecture and coastlines to die for, here are the 5 best places to elope in Italy.
3. Cinque Terre
4. Amalfi Coast
Elope in Ireland
Gorgeous rolling hills, deep green tones and castles dating back thousands of years, Ireland is certainly a unique piece of earth to choose for an elopement. But, it makes sense! Photographically it is amazing, and if you are after something quaint, low-key and just breathtaking, it’s for you. Here are my 6 best places to elope in Ireland.
2. Kinbane Head
4. Menlo Castle
Elope in Scotland
Similar in nature to Ireland, Scotland also has some of the earths most striking landscapes. So here are my favourite 4 best places to elope in Scotland.
1. Isle of Skye
2. Loch Lommond
3. Gretna Green
Elope in France
A country built on love, eloping in France would be something to tell your children about. Most people just assume they should go straight to Paris, but there are some other amazing places to elope in France. Here are my 3 favourite places to elope in France.
Elope in Iceland
Not sure when it happened, but eloping in Iceland has been one of the hottest trends for adventurous couples in the wedding industry for a few years now. It is almost a right of passage if you want to say you had the most epic wedding. But, in saying that, it has every right to lay claim to being one of the most popular elopement destinations on earth. Here are 2 of my favourite places to elope in Iceland.
Elope in Fiji
I absolutely love Fiji, and most people who choose to elope here would automatically head for the water. And to be fair, why wouldn’t they? Yes Fiji has mountains in the hinterlands, but let’s be real here, if you have travelled all the way to Fiji to elope, you are probably doing it for the beach. For a list of amazing places to elope in Fiji, check this out.
Elope in Canada
I don’t want to make any big bold statements, but, Canada is probably my favourite country on earth. It has some of the most scenic National Parks, and the nicest people. Plus, you never can get too much Poutine, right? Here are my favourite 8 places to elope in Canada.
1. Lake Louise
3. Fogo Island
Elope in Australia
My home town (well, country). It’s weird being from Australia, eloping is still not as big of a thing as it is everywhere else, maybe because we are so far from everyone else, and we don’t have the epic landscapes Canada, Ireland and Iceland might have. So a lot of people who live here, either do not know eloping is something they can do, or people travelling here just want to elope on one of our beaches (yes we have a lot, and they are spectacular). If you want more information on the best places to elope in Australia, click the link. But for now, my favourite 16 places to elope in Australia.
3. Hyams Beach
4. Seal Rocks
6. Byron Bay
10. Daintree Forest
11. Mount Hotham
12. Dandenong Ranges
13. Beauchamp Falls
14. The Grampians
15. Ben Lommond
16. Cloudy Bay
Elope in Hawaii
One of the worlds most renowned islands to visit if you want sun, sea and sand. But Hawaii also has a lot more than just white beaches and blue water, so if you’re looking for something tropical, but a bit more unique than all the Hawaiian photos you have seen before, check out my list of the 6 best places to elope in Hawaii!