Love is sweaty palms, heart flutters, in-between jokes and thinking your partner is the most beautiful thing in the world even when they’re wearing a track suit and they’ve got food on their face. At times it can be challenging and it most certainly can cause heartbreak, but when it’s right, love is the best thing in the world.
If you’re lucky enough to find yourself a partner in crime to navigate life with, you may end up getting engaged and that inevitably means, planning a wedding.
We know it can be stressful. There’s the budget and the RSVPs and the soon-to-be-mother-in-laws. And in between all of that is the looming question of The Venue.
Your wedding day is a celebration of the two of you—so don’t feel pressured to walk down a path that’s been strolled down many times before. If you’re after a unique place to have your wedding, you’ve come to the right place. Here are eight of New Zealand’s out-of-the-box wedding venues, sans industrial chic warehouses.
Get Hitched At The Top Of A Mountain
Stand amongst a mountain range and say “I do” at Coromandel Peak in Wanaka. Also known as Mount Roy, this destination is one of the most picturesque spots to get married in New Zealand—if not the world. Enjoy sweeping views of cobalt-blue Lake Wanaka and the surrounding islands and bays, tussock-covered mountains and valleys and the snow-capped Southern Alps in the background. The catch is that unless you want to wear your hiking boots to your wedding, you’ll be catching a helicopter there. Most couples chose to elope or have an intimate wedding at Coromandel Peak—a great excuse if you didn’t want to invite your second cousin, Bob.
Seal The Deal Hobbit Style
This one is for all of you The Lord of the Rings fans out there. Get hitched at Hobbiton, the actual movie set where The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were filmed. Situated on a farm in Matamata in the Waikato Region, Hobbiton offers two private areas for your ceremony—the gardens with the iconic Hobbinton Holes and a larger open area that overlooks the lake and party tree. For the reception, choose between a reconstructed replica of the pub featured in the trilogies or there’s a marquee option for a larger group. Even if you haven’t watched the movies, Hobbiton is a quirky, colourful and magical venue for a wedding—just be careful of your ring.
Get Rustic At The Old Forest School
Bay of Plenty
Though most couples probably don't want to go back to school, let alone get married in one—this school’s a little bit different. Built in the 1930s as a place for education for the community of Pongakawa, today The Old Forest School is an out-of-the-box wedding venue that looks like it’s been plucked from a fairy tale. The five-acre property combines nostalgia and rural surrounds, with charming schoolrooms, colourful gardens and rustic touches. Put a ring on it under the shade of the 80-year-old redwood and sycamore trees or in the original school hall, which still has a blackboard in it. Your guests will love exploring the property, enjoying drinks from the bar and trying their luck at giant jenga. Dance the night away under the moon and festoon lights in the outdoor courtyard while your band plays bangers from the barn.
Memorable Nuptials At NZ's Only Castle
Who says romance is dead? Marry the love of your life at Larnach Castle, found on the picturesque Otago Peninsula overlooking Dunedin, Otago Harbour, the Peninsula and the Pacific Ocean. Built in 1871 by William Larnach and created using materials sourced from all over the world, the castle oozes elegance—think historic architecture, grand chandeliers, polished dance floors and well-manicured gardens. There is also accommodation available on the grounds of Larnach Castle for your friends and family to stay a night or two.
Take The Plunge At Wellington Zoo
Get married amongst the animals at Wellington Zoo. There are a range of stylish spaces within the zoo that’s available to hire for your wedding, including an inside venue that’s right next to monkey island. If you would like to have it outside surrounded by nature, the penguin point, chimp lawn and Asia precinct are all available to use. If you’re a baller and money isn’t an issue, you can also hire out the whole zoo for your wedding. Wellington Zoo offer custom wedding services including their own event planner, so you won’t have to do a thing except have the best day of your life.
Say I Do In The Gardens...
Have your dream European wedding without leaving the country at the Hamilton Gardens. You can choose to tie the knot from multiple beautiful gardens that all have a unique theme, such as the Italian renaissance garden. Step back in time at the Victorian English flower garden and marvel at the pops of colours at the Indian garden. In terms of wedding venues, the Hamilton Gardens are a pretty affordable option, and in some gardens, you’re able to request that your ceremony is private. One thing’s for sure—your wedding photos will be spectacular.
Or At The Tree Church
Yes, you read that right, folks. Be surrounded by nature as you agree to forever in a living, breathing tree church. A one-of-a-kind wedding venue, the Tree Church came to life by planting trees across a church-shaped iron frame and hours of care and maintenance by owner, Barry. He spends at least five hours mowing the lawns—the Tree Church is set amongst three acres—and three hours on the gardens to get it primed and ready for an event. You’ll find the Tree Church in the township of Ohaupo, which is under a two-hour drive away from Auckland.
Take To The Air In A Hot Air Balloon
Forget a rustic barn or by the ocean and instead opt for a wedding venue that you’re sure never to forget—a hot air balloon. Sunrise Balloons is a family-owned and operated business and have been flying around Queenstown since 1998. Say your vows from above, relax on a one-hour journey and enjoy views of the Southern Alps, Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables mountain range. Afterwards, a champagne breakfast is served in the field with fresh fruit, cheese and sweet treats—the ideal time to do your wedding toast.
Feeling inspired? Check out Auckland's most beautiful wedding venues.
Image credit: Coromandel Peak by Williams Photography, Hobbiton, Lanarch Castle, Hamilton Gardens by Sylvain Cleymans, Sunrise Balloons