Travelling to Auckland may be more of an adventure than some guests are willing to undertake, but if you have a strong Kiwi connection, this rough terrain will provide a wedding backdrop worthy of a million snapshots.
Known as one of the most vast beautiful landscapes on earth, New Zealand provides everything from sand and surf to mountains and snow within just a short distance.
Auckland, located in the country’s North Island, is the most active hub with a population of 1.5 million. The city sits atop a volcanic field with over 50 separate peaks, so the views are simply astounding. The surrounding ocean also allows for walks on the beach and some of the best seafood you’ll ever savour.
The best time to go: Tucked into the depths of the Southern Hemisphere, Auckland’s seasons are the reverse of those in Canada. Summertime runs from December to January, while winter falls from June to August. Warm temperatures are most dependable from January through to March. Because of its terrain, however, Auckland is rarely humid and a nice cool breeze is almost guaranteed at night.
The flight: The trip to New Zealand will be your greatest obstacle. At 14 hours (Vancouver-Auckland) to 19 hours (Toronto-Auckland) in the air, it’s not for the faint of flight. Air New Zealand offers direct flights to and from Vancouver once a week but couples from the east coast will need to connect at least once (likely in San Francisco or Los Angeles). It’s not worth pinching pennies on this journey. Air New Zealand may not be the cheapest option, but it’s a high quality airline that will provide the service required to make this epic flight most manageable. You’ll also want to allow plenty of time to adjust to the new time zone and shake any jet lag well before the ceremony.
The legal paperwork: There are few complications when getting married in New Zealand, so long as you are legally free to do so. Simply choose an appointed marriage celebrant, apply for a marriage license using the Notice of Intended Marriage application form, and make a formal statutory declaration that there is no lawful impediment to your union. All of this can be done at a distance prior to arriving in the country with the signature of a Commonwealth Representative, or, if you will be in the country three working days before the ceremony, you can have the declaration signed and witnessed by a local Registrar of Marriages. The marriage license fee is $173.70 NZD.
The local customs: The indigenous Maori culture is highly respected in New Zealand and throughout Auckland you will see many of their places of worship, referred to as the Wharenui. Because of the country’s strong connection to this religion, which subscribes to the idea that all living things are descended from the Gods, Kiwis are very protective of their land. As such, it is very important not to bring in imported goods that may damage the local ecosystem and acts like littering will be severely looked down upon, so be very respectful of the habitat.
The local cuisine is heavy on meat pies, which are a savoury delight. Replace the traditional midnight snack of pizza and hamburgers with some pies from a local bakery and your wedding guests will be beyond grateful.
The venue: For a small intimate wedding, Mantells Mt Eden is a brilliant locale. A stone courtyard with a Tuscan flair and tropical palm trees provides the perfect space for a wedding service and introductory cocktails. The party can then move into a long narrow dining room where guests will enjoy some of the finest cuisine in Auckland. With an exposed kitchen, it’s easy to observe Mantells’ experienced chefs while they create gourmet food with unbeatable taste and exquisite plating. Their filets of beef simply melt in your mouth while exotic flavours like saffron are happily introduced to the smoked salmon plate. Even dietary restrictions provide a welcome challenge for these top-notch cooks.
Mantells is also a short five-minute drive to the top of Mount Eden’s volcanic cone, which provides some of the best views of Auckland—perfect for photographing the bridal party.