MOST travelers who have traversed the natural landscapes of New Zealand will be quick to tell you that the country is home to some of the most picturesque scenes in the world.
Rolling mountains that cast their reflections over endless blue lakes, cows grazing in sweeping meadows, lush forests blessed with the trickle of cool streams; in New Zealand, postcard images come to life and the world is better for it.
While the country’s tourism market is made up of mostly leisure travelers from Australia, we’re also calling the trend of wedding tourism in the country as more Asian couples look to the sprawling landscapes as a backdrop to recite their vows. Who can blame them, really?
Rise of wedding tourism
Luxury lakeside and mountain lodges are the perfect venue for your special day, and New Zealand is not short of them.
A representative from TNZ told Travel Wire Asia, “There are many stunning settings for couples to choose from for their wedding ceremony and function.”
Some of the more popular spots include the Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo, one of the world’s most idyllic churches, and New Zealand’s very own world-class golf courses such as Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers. These golf courses allow guests to walk on lush green grass, soak up the scenery and indulge in pure luxury.”
Vineyards with picturesque views such as Hawke’s Bay or Waiheke Island are also popular choices as couples and their guests can sample tasty local vintages at these locations.”
A reliable range of wedding planners is also at hand to help couples sort out the details from flowers to door gifts. Emma Newman, a wedding planner based in Christchurch, told Travel Wire Asia, “I work a lot on Skype and have helped plan many successful weddings when the couple only arrive days before the wedding.”
Newman works on weddings in the South Island, and has handled clients from all over Europe and Australia. She said that planning a wedding overseas allows the couple to relax and enjoy their big day as the pressures are taken away.
Couples can request for customized details for the big event even if abroad. “Traditional dances being incorporated into speeches, and timing is the big thing here. Having helicopters and animals and all sorts involved [is well and good] but that is why you hire a planner,” Newman said.
The Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo is said to be one of the world’s most idyllic churches, where miles of mountain scenery stretch on and the Gothic Revival style of the structure provides for a unique experience.
Couples have also gotten married at the foot of Mount Cook, while others opt for a helicopter to take them to the top of the Tasman Glacier where the couple hovers over snow-capped peaks.
More adventurous couples can also say ‘I do’ in a hot air balloon while slowly ascending over the unfolding landscapes of Canterbury Plains or the rugged mountain ranges of Queenstown.
For more ideas on wedding locations, this list by TNZ is a good starting point.
Chinese tourism market
TNZ revealed that China is New Zealand’s second largest visitor market after Australia owing to a growing middle class in the last five years. Increased air capacity from the two direct carriers, China Southern Airlines and Air New Zealand – with new players Air China and China Eastern also establishing year-round services in 2015 – has also boosted the trend.
In 2012, popular Chinese actress Yao Chen held her wedding in Queenstown, rousing the interest of millions of Chinese. NZ Herald reported that the stunning South Island wedding was viewed more than 2.4 million times on various Chinese news sites and portals, and more than 110,000 were also discussing it on Weibo.
The actress, who is also Tourism New Zealand’s brand ambassador for China, posted photos of her wedding and pre-wedding activities she partook in and around Queenstown on Weibo, sparking wide interest and comments on New Zealand as a wedding destination.
Sarah Xu of China Southern Airlines told the publication, “Getting married overseas is becoming increasingly popular among the younger Chinese, and Yao Chen’s posts show New Zealand as the perfect scenic place for them to do that.”
Same-sex marriage was legalized in New Zealand in 2013, and many couples from Australia are crossing their borders to exchange vows.
According to a report on Mammamia, hundreds of other lesbian and gay Australians are choosing to celebrate their nuptials in nearby New Zealand.
Melbourne couple Sarah-Jane Dessmann and Natasha Horvat told the site, “We got tired of waiting for Australia to legalize [same-sex marriage].”