How to Elope in New Zealand in 2024
By Avya Trotter-Hlavac

19 February 2024

If you're looking to avoid the inevitable decision fatigue that comes from planning a wedding - an elopement could be a bit of you. 

What is an elopement?




- to run away secretly in order to get married.


It's an age-old concept: to run away with your lover to get married - escaping the disapproving parents or less-than-ideal circumstances.


Quite romantic, really. 


Though historically, elopements were secretive in nature - we're loud and proud about them in 2024!


Maybe you're living abroad, your budget won't allow a huge wedding, family dynamics aren't ideal, or you simply just want to have the day truly to yourselves. 

Whatever the reasoning may be, we're big fans of elopements. 

How to elope

The concept is simple: choose a place, a photographer and a celebrant

You'll need two witnesses to sign the papers and make it official, one of whom can be your photographer. 

The beauty of not having a huge wedding is you can reallocate that budget towards a beautiful experience for the two of you. 

From splurging a bit more on your outfits to staying at an epic location, let yourself dream a little!

Where to elope

Your imagination really is the only limitation here. 

Do you have somewhere sentimental in mind? A nook at your favourite beach or a hilltop in your hometown?

Maybe, there's somewhere you've always wanted to travel together? Italy, Sweden, Vegas? Now is your chance. 

Once you've picked your location, you can begin the search for a photographer and celebrant local to that area. Though you never know - your favourite vendors from home may be game to make the trip!

Rather than bombard you with opinions and complicate a concept designed to be simple, we're here to spark your excitement and imagination.


We spoke to some of our favourite elopement photographers and the couples themselves about their experiences eloping in New Zealand and beyond.

Without further ado, here is our ultimate guide to eloping in New Zealand (and beyond) in 2023.


Elopement Photographers We Love. 

Ylia & Meg at Te Arai, by Zahn


Elopements and weddings have taken Zahn to the ends of the earth - from Israel to Slovenia, Bali to Malibu.


Zahn's work is bold, dynamic and full of life. Thoughtful to his core, he seeks to photograph the honesty within each moment. 

With a manner that is relaxed but also totally in control - he's the kind of photographer you know you can count on for your elopement. 

Ylia & Meg at Te Arai, by Zahn

Perspectives Photo + Cinema

—featuring Aimee & Michaela


Aimee and Michaela, why did you decide to elope?

"We initially talked about a destination wedding in Hawaii or Bali as half our family are in South Africa and half are here in NZ, so we thought we could do a "halfway" point. The reality of financing something like that became clear, and then Covid hit as well, and it stopped being an option at all. Because half the family are in SA and wouldn't be able to join us, we didn't want a one-sided wedding, so we started discussing an epic elopement just about us and our journey and love for each other. It was the best decision we could have ever made."

Aimee & Michaela by Perspectives Photo + Cinema

What did the day consist of?

We started our elopement by driving up to the Coromandel and scoping out some photo spots. We bumped into a friendly local, swimming with his dog, and he kindly gave us advice about the best part of the beach and the direction of the sunset, so we settled on a spot. 

We went to the Air BnB and Amber and Zahn arrived shortly afterwards, followed by our two best friends. We pumped some music and started getting dressed for photos. Amber magically produced a full make-up kit and the skills to use it (neither of us knows how to wear make-up!), and our besties did our hair. 

Amber, Zahn and the two of us headed off for our photos, and we had the best time with the most incredible sunset. We came back to a ready-made South African Braai done expertly by our friends, and all hung out until way too late in the evening. 

We got up very early the next morning - wedding day! - and got dressed again in an excited rush, nearly missing our sunrise call time. We got to Otama Bay just in time to set up, catch up with our stunning celebrant Anita Burton, and get things started just as the sun came up over the water. 

It was absolute perfection in every way. We shared our vows and all shared tears of love, and then had a good play on the beach, taking more photos and celebrating together. 

We then headed back to the AirBnb for a big cook-up breakfast and got ready to head to Whitianga. There, we jumped on a private sailboat for the day and followed the wind to a secluded little cove where we all had lunch and a swim. Aimee and I jumped off the yacht in our dresses, which was epic! 

After sailing back and taking a wee cat nap on the way, we headed to Kuaotunu to the famous Luke's Kitchen for dinner, which was amazing. 

Amber and Zahn bravely headed back home as they had another job waiting for them the next day, and the rest of us spent the evening reliving the day's magic. 

The next day, we went for breakfast in Whitianga and headed home to Tauranga, in a cloud of blissful gratitude. Everything had come together so perfectly, right down to the weather, wind, and cloud cover being perfect for every situation.

What was your favourite part of it?

The people. We couldn't imagine having had our day with anybody else, and we know now that all the years we waited to get married (6!) was because we needed those exact people in our lives at that exact moment in time. Amber and Zahn are two of our favourite humans, and although we didn't know each other well beforehand, they fit right in and they gave us the best experience of our lives. 

Anita Burton was referred to us by a friend; our wedding was her first as a celebrant, and she could not have done it better. She was an absolute delight, fit right in with the group, and gave us a wonderful experience. 

There are not enough words to describe our best friends, Chané and Chanté and the magic they bring to our lives. They signed as our witnesses and, in doing so, play witness to our lives and marriage. They have committed to walking alongside us in the journey, reminding us of our vows when we need to be reminded, and celebrating our marriage with us every day. They put so much work into making the trip come together - all the food planning and prep, the little details, the hair, not to mention Chané made my wedding dress from scratch! 

There's nothing like the moment you exchange vows with your soulmate so that perfect sunrise ceremony will always be our greatest memory. No matter how you decide to plan your wedding day, having the right people there is what makes it. 

Aimee & Michaela by Perspectives Photo + Cinema

Selea Photography


Selea Photography, AKA Ioana, is a Swedish photographer and a creative force with a heart for people. With a focus on intimate celebrations and adventurous elopements, Ioana offers a range of packages to help bring your dream day to life.

What do you love the most about elopements?

"I love the freedom it brings! To be able to create a day entirely for you is just such a freeing feeling. There are no rules when it comes to an elopement - except saying yes! The possibilities are endless!"

Where have elopements taken you?

"Elopements have taken me to Portugal, Greece, Sweden, Norway, Canada and my new home - New Zealand!"

Generally, how long will you spend with the couple for an elopement?

"I usually spend about 4-5 hours. I'll capture the ceremony and any potential group shots, then allow a good chunk of time for portraits and whatever activity you may do!

Some examples of activities would be a hike, hiring a fancy car, having a private picnic, vow exchange somewhere special, popping a champagne bottle and more!"

Kia & Johan in Stockholm by Selea Photography

Kouki Photography

Bianca & Josh in Queenstown by Kouki Photography

Michael Kouki is a highly sought-after photographer who delivers magic, time after time. With an eye for spotting the beauty within seemingly ordinary moments, it’s not hard to see why he leaves his clients absolutely thrilled.

Generally, what will an elopement shoot with you look like?

"An elopement shoot with me? Think of it as a thrilling adventure with your best mate behind the lens! We'll find the perfect spot that screams 'you,' whether it's a mountain top or a hidden alleyway in the city. I'm there to capture the laughter, the tears, and even the goofy dance moves. No stiff, awkward poses – just genuine moments that tell your love story how it deserves to be told. Pack your love, and let's make some memories!"

Bianca & Josh in Queenstown by Kouki Photography

Rebecca Bradley Photography

Victoria & Harry on Waiheke Island by Rebecca Bradley Photography 

Rebecca is a wedding and elopement photographer with an affinity for beautiful landscapes and earthy hues. Her style is cinematic and raw, and her relaxed manner is the antidote to anyone who is nervous in front of the camera.

Can you tell us about Victoria and Harry's elopement?

"Victoria and Harry had a beautiful Waiheke Island elopement. They wanted to skip the big wedding and have something intimate and close to home. They chose a special spot amongst lush greenery at a reserve on Waiheke Island. Some touching vows were shared with Victoria's sister and me as witnesses! We then ventured around to take some portraits, and they then headed back to celebrate with their families over a delicious vegan feast. ⁠Victoria and Harry welcomed me with open arms, and it really did feel so amazing to be part of such a beautiful and intimate celebration." 




We hope this ultimate guide has left you excited about the day you marry your best friend. 


If you're leaning towards having a couple of besties there - why not have a read of our micro-weddings blog?

The main thing is to let yourself dream a little - see where it leads you!