LGBT-friendly New Zealand was courting gay couples long before same-sex marriage was legalized in 2013, and Queenstown especially rolls out the rainbow carpet for a warm welcome!
Set on the shores of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by magnificent mountains, Queenstown was recently voted the third friendliest city in the world by Conde Nast Traveler. Auckland ranked ninth, making New Zealand the only country in the world to boast two of the friendliest cities in the top ten.
Factor in the minimal paperwork requirements and a brief legal ceremony that can be performed at the time and location of your dreams–what’s stopping you from pushing this compact but sensational island to the top of your ‘yes’ list? Say, “We do” atop a dramatic alpine mountaintop, on a secluded beach, beside a tranquil lake, or in a bountiful vineyard. New Zealand offers a wedding destination and a banquet of honeymoon activities designed to cater to every fantasy and budget.
Pedal through the vines. How does a self-guided cycling tour through the vineyards of Gibbston Valley sound? Savor the breathtaking scenery as you wind your way along the beautiful Arrow River Trail to the Kawarau River. Fortify your courage to cross suspension bridges with wine tasting and a picnic lunch along the way, and remember to
bring your camera because the views are massive.
Hella epic heli skiing. You may always charter a private helicopter ride to one of the dozen different mountain ranges in Queenstown or Wanaka and celebrate your union on a private pinnacle. Or opt for the company of a few fellow powder hounds, get in a half dozen ski or board runs, and enjoy a catered hot lunch on the peaks.
Cruise Milford Sound. You cannot go to New Zealand and skip this “Eighth
Wonder of the World,” as per Rudyard Kipling. New Zealand’s most famous tourist destination is a mind-blowing fiord tucked within the glacier-carved Fiordland National Park. Book your journey with a cruise operator that offers a smaller ship to enjoy a more intimate and up-close experience of the Sound’s grandeur. Cascading waterfalls, ancient rainforests, pods of dolphins, seals, and penguins beckon.
Horseback along the Pacific Ocean. Hold your ceremony on the shores of a remote Gisborne beach and then gallop off into the sunset, (literally). Gisborne enjoys some of the best weather in New Zealand, and some of the best beaches come with that. Perched on the far easterly edge of the country, the charming coastal city is just two hours south of a small settlement called Rangitukia. Here you can line up a four-hour horseback excursion through driftwood-strewn, wild beaches at the mouth of the Waiapu River and winds deep into dense native bush.
Indulge in a luxury spa retreat. You’re sure to be exhausted after all of this adventure, so partake of some vino therapy at Spa Di Vine Country Escape. An easy drive through verdant countryside leads you to the beautiful stone mansion where you’ll be treated to side-by-side hot stone or warm bamboo massages followed by an invigorating foot scrub with organic body butters. They won’t let you go before delivering the finishing touch: a melt-in-their-hands facial and scalp massage. Ahhhh…wedded bliss.
For more inspiration, browse through our latest edition of Voyage and explore our other hand-picked LGBT-friendly destinations.