Getting hitched in the wild wild Queenstown-Wānaka area? Lord knows we don’t blame you. Forget who’s asking – we’d say yes just for the location. Queenstown and Wānaka are, without a doubt, two of the most beautiful places in the world to get married. The crystal clear lakes, the snow-capped mountains, the untouchable views and the killer diller locals pack a punch that’s hard to beat. Fine, so we’re a little biased. Sue us.
Point is, we know how good we’ve got it, living in the greatest backyard of all time. And we know how good you’ve got it, getting married in said backyard. That’s why we’ll do our darndest to make your big day exactly as incredible as every Central Otago wedding oughta be.
Enter, ‘The Good Folks’ Guide to a Queenstown Wānaka Wedding’. From locals with all the tea, for young lovers just like yourself. Grab a cold one, and dig on in.
Where to host an intimate night-before soiree
It’s like the saying goes – every great day starts the night before. And while we’re not necessarily talking about a solid nighttime skincare routine like the rest of the internet, we’ll take a little creative license on this one and say that every wedding celebration should really begin the night before.
Whether it’s dinner with your nearest and dearest, a few drinks at Rhyme X Reason Wānaka to shake off those pre-wedding nerves, or a swanky soiree at Muttonbird that combines the two – the night before will set the mood for the big day like nothing else.
Want the best of Queenstown food & fine dining? We hear you. Here’s a few of our favourite hotspots in Queenstown and Wānaka for all your pre-wedding needs.
- Cocktails with the girls? Nest Bar is one Queenstown restaurant you can’t miss, if not for the incredible views the floor to ceiling windows allow, then for the boujee atmosphere and wicked wine list. Undoubtedly one of the best restaurants in Queenstown, Nest has cocktails to die for and a menu to cry for – so whether you’re wining or dining, Nest is the place to be.
- Beers with the boys? In Wānaka the night before? Nothing quite draws the cool crowd like Kai Whaka Pai. No matter the time of day, Kai’s will always draw a crowd thanks to its friendly staff, relaxed atmosphere, and damn good Wānaka brews. Consider this a staple with the locals for a reason.
- Food Truck style? Wanaka’s food truck scene is one not to be missed, head to Brownston Street and grab yourself our fav fried chicken from Firebird.
- Feeling fancy schmancy? Amisfield will treat you right. Located on the shores of Lake Hayes in Queenstown, Amisfield takes fine dining to a whole new level. With a carefully crafted menu that’ll leave you drooling, then stupidly satisfied, Amisfield puts the fancy in fancy pants.
- Dinner with the nearest and dearest? Enter Hook, the Salmon Saviour of Wānaka. How many other places do you know where you get to catch your food before you eat it? That’s right – grab your fishing rod ladies and gents. This is one dining experience you won’t forget.
Guest accommodation ideas
If you’re planning a destination wedding in New Zealand, there’s a good chance you and your guests will be heading to Queenstown or Wānaka. And as with every journey, a place to pop your head at night often makes or breaks the trip. Nothing’s worse than a lumpy pillow and thin walls, trust us.
While it’s definitely not your issue to suss accommodation for every single guest, a few recommendations can go a long way to remove the stress for your guests. And that, my friends, is key. So without further ado, here are our top picks for luxury Queenstown accommodation and Wānaka winners.
- Sherwood, Queenstown. It’s hard to say whether Sherwood is better known for its luxury (and sustainable) accommodation, its delicious menu, or its incredible Queenstown location. Either way, we’ll let someone else fight it out while we enjoy all three – and so should you.
- The Camp, Hawea. Think a groovy mix of lakeside safari tents, domes, and yurts, or just bring your own tent and caravan and park up for a few days. With quite the laidback feel, grab a bite from the food trucks in summer or let your kids loose on the playground. Should someone actually say yes to a kids-allowed wedding, anyway.
- Airbnb. The hero of the average folk, Airbnb has a delicious amount of stunning properties available all around Central Otago. From secluded luxury cabins high in the hills to all things comfort and cosy in town, from crowd pleasers to high-life views; the world is your accommodation oyster.
Got a few days to kill in the Wānaka Queenstown area before your wedding? Well, if you’ve got a hot minute to spare between all the last minute prepping, nothing will get you chuffed and relaxed like a few local activities. The adventure capital of New Zealand, Queenstown has something for the whole bridal party.
- SnowFarm, Cardrona Valley. Winter Wedding? Say no more. While Cardrona or Treble Cone also make for a great ski day, if you’re wanting to try something a little different, why not give Cross Country Skiing a try? You can even ski out to one of SnowFarm’s famous little huts. Pack your mulled wine sachets and a bottle of the cheapest, and enjoy a toasty night in the hills.
- Shotover Jet, Queenstown. Go on, get the adrenaline rush out of the way early in the game. Take a jet boat through the stunning Shotover River Canyons, hold onto your hats, and prepare to laugh till you dribble.
- Mountain Carting, Cardrona. Nothing says make your friends jealous like mountain carting in Cardrona during the summer months. King of the hill.
Best post-wedding, day-after celebration ideas
It’s been a whirlwind. The pre-wedding activities were a blast, the big day was the breezy, brilliant, beautiful tipi wedding you’d always imagined, and you’re now married to your best friend. You’re riding high. And what better way to ride that high than to keep the celebrations going with an epic post-wedding, day after activity.
- Tipi BBQ & Lawn Games. The tipis were a hit. Everyone’s talking about them. So why not just… keep them up for day? A post-wedding lunch with your closest friends and family in the dreamy Nordic tipis you tied the knot in sounds a little like perfection, to me. Just saying. You know who to call.
- The TSS Earnslaw, Queenstown. Sit back, relax, and cruise across Lake Wakatipu on the TSS Earnslaw, a century old coal ship. With an optional BBQ Buffet Lunch across the lake at Walter Peak, what better way to relax and enjoy precious time with your loved ones the day after your celebration?
- E-Biking, Wānaka. Post-wedding, a cruise round town on a flashy e-bike might be just what you need. And if that e-bike happens to take you to a vineyard for a post-wedding drink, that’s fine too.
- Diamond Lake/Rocky Mountain Walk. Think a 2.5-hour loop, with all the epic views of a long-haul trek into the mountains. Trust us, this one’s low-risk, high-reward.
Romantic getaway for after the wedding
And now for the best part. The honeymoon. Screw everybody else – you’re here for your new partner and no one else. It’s the first days of the rest of your life together, so set the bar high, splash out, and make them days (and nights, obviously) you’ll never forget.
Here are a few of our favourite romantic getaways in Queenstown and Wānaka. Go on, do ‘em all.
- Onsen Hot Pools. Did you even come to Queenstown if you didn’t go to the Onsen Hot Pools and post it to the gram? Didn’t think so.
- Milford Sound Scenic Flight. Take your love to new heights with the Milford Sound Scenic Flight. Yes, that also made us vom in our mouths a little, but a bad cliche won’t even touch you when you’re in the helicopter.
- Wine Tour Wānaka. Get wining and get dining, baby. Responsibly, of course, but wining all the same. It’d be a damn shame to come the whole way to Central Otago and not go on a wine tour – Maude Winery is right in town if you’re looking for an easy walk home.
So there you have it, good folk. The guide just for you, to all things wedding it up in Queenstown Wānaka. But in its simplest form – just soak up every moment you can, and make every single minute as memorable as possible. That’s kind of the whole point.
Oh, and notice the wedding day is missing from this blog? It’s because we’ve got truckloads of other advice for making your day as perfect and tipi-heavy as possible – check out the stack in our journal for all the inspiration you’ll need. You might need another cold one.