You’re deeply in love, so you’ve decided to propose to your beloved. But where should you do it? Romantic Aotearoa, of course. With so many spectacular beauty spots, from deserted islands to lush green bush, all you need to bring is the ring.
High hopes with Auckland Seaplanes
Appreciate the beauty of Waitemata Harbour from above in an amphibious plane. With the sea as your runway, these robust little machines taxi out through the wharves of Wynyard Quarter before soaring over the island jewels of the Hauraki Gulf. Auckland Seaplanes CEO Chris Sattler describes their most popular proposal package: “We fly the guests to magnificent Motuihe Island, then leave them on a deserted beach with a bottle of chilled bubbles. Returning some time later, we fly the happy couple on to Waiheke for lunch, to enjoy the rest of the day or stay overnight. We’ve never had anyone say no yet.”
Auckland Seaplanes depart from Wynyard Wharf’s charming Viaduct Harbour where, if you’re not staying on Waiheke, a range of bars and restaurants will vie for attention upon your return. Pack for all four seasons: sunscreen, something for a breeze or rain and sensible shoes for stepping out of a plane onto a pristine beach. Bookings essential.
Light up each other’s lives
If your beloved is an active type before asking for their hand in marriage you might want to take them to the Cape Brett Walkway in the Far North. This hearty 16km hike to an isolated lighthouse takes eight hours, unless you fancy taking a shortcut and chartering a water taxi part of the way, which can slash the trip to a two-hour (5km) ramble. With plenty of stunning sites to declare your love, you’ll want to speak in a clear voice on account of the raucous tweeting of native birds, the roar of the sea and the wind in the branches of the manuka trees.
The nearest township is historic Russell, four hours’ drive from Auckland. Dusty from Bay of Islands Water Taxi can drop you at the start of the easier walk or meet you at the lighthouse with provisions if you’re sleeping at the Department of Conservation hut. Dusty can also collect you when you’re ready to return to civilisation.
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Gazing up at the heavens can often make a couple feel like canoodling ... or perhaps formalising their union. If you’re aiming for the stars, you’d be hard pressed to find a rival for the South Island’s phenomenal starscape at the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Night Reserve. With a designated 4300sq km light pollution-free zone, the only thing to outshine the twinkle in your eye will be the glittering constellations up above.
Driving to Lake Tekapo from Christchurch or Queenstown takes about three hours. When you arrive, you’ll find a huge range of things to do, including night sky tours at Mount John Observatory, horse trekking, skiing, ice skating, snow tubing and some of the most extraordinary outdoor hot pools in the world.
Striking gold in romantic Clyde
Once a bustling Central Otago gold mining town, Clyde sits beside the Clutha River and is popular with history buffs, cycling enthusiasts and walkers. But the jewel in Clyde’s crown is surely the lovingly restored Olivers Lodge and Stables, an elegantly historic accommodation complex that deserves every one of its five stars. Beautifully appointed with fabulous gardens, it’s no surprise Olivers plays host to plenty of weddings. Featuring rooms with claw-foot baths and wide beds, not to mention the exquisite food, wine and service in their bakery, deli and brewery, Olivers is a place you won’t want to leave.
Riverside Clyde is just an hour’s drive from Queenstown and is beautiful year-round. Whether you want to cycle the Clutha Gold Trail or the Otago Rail Trail, take a jet boat tour or go fly fishing, kayaking or gold panning – there’s plenty to do once the proposal has been accepted.
Put your best foot forward
A long walk with your beloved is a magical way to nurture a relationship, making the Te Araroa Trail an outstanding place to propose. Starting at the tip of the North Island and finishing in Bluff in the South, this journey takes 50-80 days per island to complete. If your relationship can withstand that, you’re a shoo-in for lifelong commitment. With so many picturesque spots, it’s hard to pick just one bended-knee moment but we suggest stopping about halfway along on the Paekakariki Trail just outside Wellington. Choose between the high point of the track with impressive views of the Kapiti Coast, or one of the breathtaking swing bridges near the middle.
Don’t want to walk the whole trail? Do a 10km portion as a daytrip, from Paekakariki train station to Pukerua Bay (or vice versa). Just 40km out of Wellington, walkers need to be prepared for all weather and conditions, even if they’re only doing the single day. Better safe than sorry.