Auckland wedding photography locations
Auckland is one of the most varied cities I’ve ever visited. Within an hour, you can move from calm white sand tropical looking beaches, to something more rugged and wild on the West coast, and back to the urban landscape. Whether you’re a professional photographer, a bride or groom, or just looking for some inspiring backdrops to try your hand at photography – here are some of our thoughts on the very best Auckland wedding photography spots. Throughout this article, we’ve included links to real photography sessions – both weddings and engagement sessions – for even more inspiration.
Our favourites include:
• Muriwai Beach
• Karekare Beach and waterfall
• Bethels Beach
• Narrowneck Beach
• Te Arai Beach
West Coast Beaches
Out west – Muriwai beach is a personal favourite of ours, with seemingly endless photo options. The rocks, cliffs, dunes, glassy sand and epic sunsets are all within a few minutes walk of each other, as well as some secret tracks leading to open areas of native bush.
If you have some time up your sleeve, Bethels lake is well worth a stop before you head to the beach proper. Huge sand dunes and a decent walk in, mean it’s not for the faint hearted, but once you’re there, it feels like you could be on another planet!
Karekare is famous for not only the black sand dunes, but also an impressive waterfall a few minutes walk from the carpark. The steep hill down to the carpark and long walk to the beach means that it’s often much more secluded than other beaches along this coast (making it a photographer’s dream!)
East Coast Beaches
You may have noticed from our work that we’re a little biased towards the rugged west coast, but there are also some beautiful options on the east coast that deserve mention.
While the inner city beaches can get rather packed during the summer months, head a little further north and you’ll have not only whiter sand, but fewer people to dodge!
Te Arai is the very best photo location (possibly stretching the ‘Auckland beaches’ category a bit far at 1hr 15 mins from Auckland central). If you’re thinking of an adventure session either before or after your wedding, and you’re looking for a softer more mellow beach option – Te Arai is the beach for you
Heading back in the Auckland direction, Omaha beach is known for it’s pastel colours – perfectly suited to wedding attire.
The north shore also has some great photo options – but is very tide dependent. Look ahead at the tide chart for Narrowneck beach – at low tide the rocks, cliffs and huge pieces of driftwood are exposed and with the afternoon sun going behind the hills, the light is soft and flattering.
• Cornwall Park
• Albert Park
• Victoria Park
• Parnell Rose Gardens
• Smith’s Bush
Public parks are a great option as you won’t need to get permission to take wedding photos here (although holding your ceremony here is another matter). In Auckland city both Albert and Meyers parks have huge amounts of variation within them. If you’re not a fan of the ‘manicured’ look, but want to go for a more natural look for your city wedding – head to the edges of the park. It’s usually a good deal quieter, but also tends to have more established trees and groves that – with the right angles – can start looking like an enchanted forest rather than an inner city park.
A little further down the road – the Auckland Domain has a surprising number of quiet walkways tucked away from the crowds.
Parnell Rose garden is another firm favourite. We’ve never actually taken photos in the roses themselves, as the giant and graceful Pohututakawa trees always steal the show here. If you have time and are looking for little more variation – the Dove Meyer flower garden is a summer favourite, as well as a small area of tropical themed planting.
On the North shore – Smith’s bush (behind the North Shore cricket club) is a great little gem. A well maintained boardwalk loops through the ancient trees – ideal for a forest look without actually needing to go bush-crashing!
Further South the Botanic Gardens have a great mix of interesting flower gardens and sculptures, but if you’re prepared to walk a little further you’ll find groves of established trees. If you’re visiting in Spring, the cherry blossoms, while extremely popular, seem to be less busy than their Cornwall park counterpart.
Urban Auckland – Restaurants and bars
We are lucky to be spoilt with some beautifully styled restaurants and bars in Auckland city – and if you play your cards right – they can make for a dramatic and interesting backdrop.
You’ll of course need to seek permission before you descend upon an unsuspecting restaurant. We find that asking a few days in advance is the best bet and be sure to check what the best timing will be. The ideal time is often between the lunch and dinner service when things are relatively quiet.
If you have your bridal party in tow – buying a round of drinks is a good way to say thanks to the restaurant – and has the added bonus of keeping your bridal party busy and hydrated, so you can take a few bonus couples shots.
It always pays to have a nearby backup plan as it’s super important that you don’t disrupt any customers. If you’re favourite spot is taken – you’ll just need to go with Plan B and work around any patrons.
Queens wharf and the viaduct area have some great urban backdrops (more of an artsy, industrial vibe) while mid Queen street has some surprisingly grand old buildings with beautiful doorways. If you decide you’d love some urban looking wedding photos – be prepared for many congratulatory remarks from passersby.
Seasonal Wedding photography locations
Every season in Auckland has its perks, and with it some epic photo opportunities. These are just a few of our favourites.
Spring blossoms are a hotly contested backdrop and for two weeks in September, every man and his dog flocks to Cornwall park to catch a glimpse (and a photo in front of) the pink blossoms.
Every year the crowds seem to get bigger, and finding an angle where you don’t have half of Auckland in your shot is becoming next to impossible to find. Equally impressive (and a few weeks after the cherry blossom hype has died down) Albert park’s magnolia trees burst into pink blooms. Unlike the Cornwall park blossoms, these tree limbs almost touch the ground, making for an even greater backdrop and (so far) seems to be relatively undiscovered by the masses.
Mt Eden area is also home to the darker pink variety of blossoms – many of which are grown on the side of the road. If you can get creative with your angles – you’ll be the only one taking photos of these trees. You just might get a few odd looks from onlookers who can’t write see the vision.
Last spring we also discovered an incredible grove of cherry blossoms out at a venue out west – we won’t give away their secret just yet, but if you’re planning a Kumeu wedding in September – let’s chat 😉
And finally – if pink just isn’t your colour and you’re looking for something a little less candy floss looking – Pear blossoms are even better. Grown in large commercial orchards, these also bloom a little later in spring and have the added advantage of looking like snow.
Autumn in the inner city means bright red ivy coloured walls (we find a new favourite every year). You’ll also find a few bright yellow ginkgo trees in Auckland central that litter the ground with an impressive carpet of gold.
While summer weddings may seem like a good idea, the heat and harsh light often leaves us photographers hunting down areas of shade to avoid the dreaded ‘panda eyes’.
A favourite area of ours is around Waterloo quadrant, as the high buildings mean there is almost always a perfectly shaded area as well as a huge variety of architecture and established gardens.
Winter in Auckland means you head indoors. See the entire section above about restaurants, bars and building facades for some more winter inspiration.
We hope this has given you a bit more inspiration for your wedding photos. If you’re still a little stuck for ideas – we have two bonus tips.
Tip #1. Head to google maps and pop in your venue address. If you’re having your ceremony and reception at separate places – even better – you’ve just given yourself an even wider radius to look for photo locations!
Start off with the basic view and look for areas of green and anything near the water. Often there are small neighbourhood parks that you would have never known were there! For further investigation – throw it into satellite view. If that green patch turns out to be a rugby field – it’s probably not going to be worth checking out, but anything with trees is!
Make a shortlist and then go for a drive to check them out.
Tip #2. Wait until the right time of day (the time when you will be taking creative photos) and go for a walk around your venue and the surrounding neighbourhood. Slowing down and walking vs driving – you’ll be amazed at how much more you’ll notice!
Keep in mind that the light is going to change a lot depending on your season. If your wedding is still 12 months or more away – go as close to your wedding date as you can for a scout around to see what your options might be. If you’re only a few months or weeks out from the wedding date – have a look at what time sunset is on your wedding day, and work backwards from there to get a rough idea of what the light might be like.
#2a. If you want to be super geeky about it – get yourself the Sunseeker app. 3D mode means you can track the suns position in the sky for any day of the year for a super accurate planning tool.