“Destination weddings and pre-wedding photoshoots have been prevalent among modern-day couples. More than the aesthetic, travelling together is a great way to enjoy each other’s company. In this issue, we want to share with you the top pre-wedding photoshoot locations in New Zealand.”
Why New Zealand? From its diverse natural beauty to its vibrant cities, almost everything you want to see and experience is here. Its varied topography allows you to have the best of both worlds. The country has two main islands, the North and the South which offer different but equally breathtaking sceneries that will make a stunning backdrop for your pre-wedding photos. We can see why it is one of the regions that photographers love to shoot at – from the moment the sun rises and the time it dips down the horizon. The tropical North Island boasts of thick forests and wide beaches as well as the biggest cities in New Zealand. The South’s charm, on the other hand, is on its rugged mountains and steep fjords.
Having your pre-wedding photoshoot locations in New Zealand means finding a photographer that can fly with you from Singapore or wherever you are in the world. Otherwise, New Zealand also has their local photographers that are undoubtedly familiar with the best spots for your shoot. Either way, it is best to see these locations so you can also have a say on what you want for your own pre-wedding pictures.
New Zealand’s North Island has a lot to offer when it comes to photographic destinations. If you imagine yourself together with your partner watching the sea from an old and timeless lighthouse, with your veil dancing with the breeze, North Island is just as magical and romantic. From its lively cities, Auckland and Wellington, to its lush forests, coastal beaches, and geothermal attractions, the North is a perfect mix of modernity, nature, and culture.
1. Matamata, for a fantasy-themed wedding
Now that you’ve found someone to share in an adventure (did u get the reference…), you might as well take them to Matamata before tying the knot. An essential destination when visiting North Island, Matamata is the home of the hobbits. In fact, even their local i-Site looks like a hobbit home! The highlight, of course, is Hobbiton, the famous set for The Lord of the Rings movies. The rolling green hills and scattered Hobbit Holes make a mystic and fun location for your wedding photoshoot. Couples who are big fans of the book and movie series can even take the step further as the venue is also available to host weddings. Find more informationhere.
2. Mt. Eden, for twinkling city lights
Built on a ring of fire, New Zealand’s largest and most populated city has 48 volcanic cones all over the region. One of them, Mt Eden or Maungawhau, is the highest point in Auckland and offers a 360-degree view of the city. This makes it an ideal spot for your engagement photo shoot at any time of the day! Capture romantic and serene pictures with the breathtaking mix of colours of sunrise or sunset behind you. Also, the blue and golden hours really give off better quality lighting. For a bit of metropolitan air with a touch of nature, be on top of the world and let the twinkling city lights complete the scenery.
3. Waiheke Island, for laid-back yet romantic picturesque
A 40-minute ferry ride from Auckland, Waiheke Island offers a lot of options for your photoshoot location. Pick among idyllic vineyards and rolling hills line with lush vines or shoot among rows of olive trees. Some estates are even open to hold weddings. You can also kick your shoes off and have a laid back photoshoot in one of the island’s many diverse beaches.
4. Takapuna, for a breath of fresh air
Across the Harbour Bridge is another scenic location for your pre-wedding shoot. Auckland being the most populated city of New Zealand, Takapuna is a sweet escape. Its grassy hills opens another perspective of the majestic view of Rangitoto and downtown Auckland. It is also home to Lake Pupuke, the only volcanic crater lake in Auckland where you can take serene photos. A 15-minute drive to Fort Takapuna can give a bit of historical feel and quaint dimension to your pictures.
5. Waimauku, for a rustic and woodland set up
Some parts of New Zealand exude vintage and rustic landscape and one of which is Waimaku. With its undulating hills and rustic farmlands, it is a perfect location for couples who love the outdoors. The tall grass, barns, and woodlands all add mirth to your pre-wedding photos. Meanwhile, the west of this charming rural town is Muriwai Beach where you can take pictures while strolling along its beauteous black sand.
6. Wellington, for natural colours and elements
Dubbed as “the coolest little capital in the world” by Lonely Planet, the capital city of Wellington is a salad of history, arts, culture, nightlife, and nature experiences. With its many facets, it offers a lot of panoramic locations for couples. For us, however, what takes the cake are the rich colours and natural elements of its rainforests – creating a mystical and tranquil flair to your wedding photos.
7. Cape Egmont Lighthouse, for historical and shining love
Cape Egmont Lighthouse has been shining its light since 1881. The historic structure, with a view of Mt. Taranaki at a distance, provides a beautiful context to your images. Let the rays of the sun reflect on your hair and provide you with that lovely sun-kissed glow as you walk up to the tower. Built on the westernmost point of Taranaki, the lighthouse is an impeccable site for a sunset photo shoot.
8. Mangawhai, for forest landscape
If you are aiming for a calm and rugged atmosphere for your wedding pictures, the little seaside town of Mangawhai Heads is the destination for you. Have your photos taken along a beautiful stretch of coastline or on a seaside cliff walk. You can also explore one of the nearby forests and take pictures among ancient trees for a rustic mood.
9. Nelson Street Cycleway, for a unique aerial shot
A seemingly odd addition to the streets of Auckland, the hot-pink colour of Nelson Street Cycleway is easily eye-catching in the morning. At night, the modern landmark comes alive with soft LED lights lining the barricade. Who needs a red carpet when you have a bright pink pathway amidst a modern city? If it doesn’t convince you enough to take your Hollywood-worthy photos there, having Sky Tower in the background might!
10. Cathedral Cove, for outstanding cinematography
With its white sand, clear blue waters, and iconic rock formations, Cathedral Cove is possibly one of the most impressive settings in The Coromandel. The 45-minute trek offers a breathtaking coastal view from the cliff top. Descending to the beach, the cathedral-like cavern underneath a white rock headland acts as a portal to the cove. On the other side of it is “Te Hoho”, a huge pinnacle standing proud just a short distance off the beach. The cove is located on the eastern side of the peninsula, making it an ideal set-up for a sunrise photo shoot.
Larger than the North in surface area, New Zealand’s South Island is notable for its dramatic landscapes that will surely leave you mesmerised. It will enchant you with its mountains, rivers, lakes, fjords, and glaciers. With such a wide range of spectacular sceneries to choose from, it isn’t easy to decide which one to pick as your pre-wedding photo location. So, we narrowed the list down for you.
1. Roy’s Peak, for an exquisite viewpoint overlooking Lake Wanaka
One of the popular spots in Wanaka, Roy’s Peak is a favourite among local wedding photographers. The exceptional view of Lake Wanaka and the surrounding ridgeline make a ravishing element to the photos and can take one’s breath away. Late afternoon to sunset is the best time to shoot on the mountain when the afternoon sun gives off a soft glow and reflects on the blue lake. The light gets more vivid as the sun sets, creating a dramatic picture of the horizon as the last rays of the sun paint the sky.
2. Church of Good Shepherd, for stellar wedding photoshoot
Day or night, the charming little stone church in Mackenzie makes for a striking photoshoot location. The beautiful view of Lake Tekapo and the Southern Alps create an enchanting backdrop during the day, and if you visit between mid-November and late December, the blooming lupin flowers around the area add to the beauty of the scenery. At night, however, is when the magic happens. Located within the Dark Sky Reserve, the Church of the Good Shepherd is covered by a blanket of stars, the Milky Way galaxy, and in some occasions, Aurora Australis. Talk about romantic and bewitching!
3. Lake Pukaki, for icy blue water backdrop
The largest among Mackenzie Basin’s three alpine lakes, Lake Pukaki is famous for its astonishing azure waters, thanks to the glacial flour from the glaciers surrounding the area. In addition to that, the tallest mountain in New Zealand, Aoraki/Mount Cook, proudly stands over the lake. The sky’s reflection on the pristine waters along with the snow-capped mountains, the barren hills, and the warm glow of the sun create an amazing contrast and a serene background for an unmatched beauty.
4. Glenorchy Pier, for snow-capped mountains
Glenorchy definitely deserves to be called the “Gateway to Paradise” – both figuratively and literally. Twenty kilometres away from a place called Paradise, the small town is blessed with snow-capped mountains, brilliant blue lakes, and clear sky above. A popular spot, Glenorchy Wharf, has an old jetty stretching to Lake Wakatipu and Mount Bonpland. The red boathouse near the pier provides a more rustic feel along the overcast weather.
5. Milford Sound, for inky black water
Milford Sound is one of the top spots in New Zealand. A remote fjord surrounded by precipices and magnificent mountains, it is home to diverse wildlife species. Don’t be surprised if you get an occasional avian in the background if you take your photos here. Another one of the fjord’s charm is its inky black water which shimmers like a black gem under the sunlight. It’s no wonder why Rudyard Kipling dubbed it as the 8th wonder of the world.
6. Franz Jocef Glacier, for dramatic set up along Waiho River
Sentinel Rock, a popular observation point, is just the right spot to capture the sublime view of Franz Jocef Glacier and Waiho River. With a transparent river, glacial valleys, and snow-capped mountains lining up the horizon, it creates a theatrical feature for adventurous couples. Just walking through the rocks to get the photos done already looks intense, can definitely imagine a good adrenaline rush here.
7. Roys Bay, for that Wanaka tree
Another photographer favourite, ‘that Wakana Tree” is possibly the world’s most photographed tree. The iconic landmark is situated in Lake Wanaka where it is sometimes surrounded by water. The lake is the right pre-wedding photoshoot spot round the clock; however, sunrise may have a slight advantage of casting a beautiful soft light on the clear blue waters and the mountains of Mt Aspiring National Park.
8. St. Peters Anglican Church, for stained glass aesthetics
Located in the heart of town and near the lakeside, St. Peters Anglican Church is one of the most photographed spots in Queenstown. The dainty church features rustic stone walls and gorgeous stained glass windows, one of which is dedicated to the parishioners who died during World War II and makes it more meaningful. With the bright blue sky and the green lawn, the church is definitely a glorious location to commemorate nuptials in your pre-wedding photoshoot.
9. Cardrona, for golden autumn leaves
Golden leaves of autumn never fail to leave anyone in awe. Although not native to New Zealand, the poplars in Cardrona Valley.are still a phenomenal addition to the diverse plants in the country. In autumn, they cast a golden glow to the surrounding and with the bright sun, creates a remarkable colours of yellows, reds in contrast to the blue of the sky.
10. Akaroa, for fun photoshoot with alpacas
For couples looking for a relaxed concept, taking your pictures on a farm is a wonderful idea. The wooden fences, grassy hills, and green trees can give a carefree and cheerful mood to your pictures. Now, add in a fluffy alpaca to the mix and you got yourself a cute and fun photo shoot for keep.
Beau Taplin once wrote, “why should a relationship mean settling down? Wait for someone who won’t let life escape you. Someone spontaneous who you can get lost in the world with. A relationship, with the right person, is a release, not a restriction.” Doing your pre-wedding photoshoot signals a wedding coming up and why not spend it in your dream travel, different from your dream honeymoon destination. If you choose New Zealand as the place to be, hopefully, these places leave its mark onto your preference list.
This post is brought to you by The Wedding Vow.