Kiss me Kate – Canterbury’s top places to propose to your princess

Sarah Mankelow —  03/05/2011

There’s nothing like a Royal Wedding to get us girls dreaming about our own Prince William Charming. Sigh.

We all need a little romance in our lives – some of us more than others. And those of us who spend time in the outdoors in our parks and other places know just how special and mood-enhancing these places can be. So, why not make it official boys? Take us out in the wilderness, get down on one knee and make us feel like a princess. Here are my top spots in Canterbury for a proposal with a fairytale ending…

Castle Hill – Kura Tawhiti Conservation Area

Getting there: Drive west of Christchurch for about 80 minutes

Castle Hill has plenty of hidden corners for a romantic tryst

Come on – it’s got Castle in the name – it has to be good! Even without the cliché connection this is a fantastic spot – the stone outcrops that earned its name make it an awe-inspiring place to visit. And it’s amazing how you can get lost in this place – there can be 20 cars in the car park but in the reserve itself you can wander around unnoticed for hours; plenty of hidden corners for a romantic tryst.

Kura Tawhiti is a topuni site – history tells it was claimed by the son of celebrated chief Tuahuriri so that he could gather the green glowing feathers of kakapo in the area for his daughter Hine Mihi to wear (Aotearoa’s own royal fashion).

Learn more about Castle Hill – Kura Tawhiti Conservation Area

Millennium Walk – Arthur’s Pass National Park

Getting there: Drive west from Christchurch for about 2 hrs; the walk is only 10 min return.

Wintertime at "Chapel of the Snows"

A marvellous spot for a midnight proposal – the walk goes up behind the quaint Arthur’s Pass ‘Chapel of Snows’ to a viewing platform overlooking the Avalanche Creek Waterfall, which is lit at night. In the middle of winter, snow and icicles hang like glistening diamonds and frosty air requires lots of close cuddles. Plus, when you are ready to throw your own Royal Wedding, the back window of the chapel gives a view directly onto the waterfall – bringing the proposal and the ceremony together to make memories that last a lifetime.

A frozen waterfall and snow covered rocks at Avalanche Creek, Arthur's Pass National Park provide the perfect backdrop for romance

Learn more about Millennium Walk (and other short walks around Arthur’s Pass National Park) 

Mt Sunday – Hakatere Conservation Park

Getting there: Drive south then west to Mt Somers township then into the Ashburton Lakes, past Lake Clearwater; about 2 ½ hrs from Christchurch.

Lord of the Rings fans will know this lump of glacial rock as the capital of Rohan and home to Meduseld, the hall of King Theoden and his niece Éowyn. So we have rings, we have princesses and kings – we have a small hill to climb, which makes us all feel good when we reach the top. Apparently true Tolkein enthusiasts get dressed up into costumes to make the climb – that’s optional although very cool – and lets face it Éowyn’s white dress would grace any Princess bride.

Learn more about Mount Sunday

Mt Princess – St James Conservation Area

Getting there: St James is behind Hanmer Springs – this climb starts near Lake Tennyson, a further 45 km along Tophouse Road (shingle).

For true backcountry mountaineers who prefer to feel “on the top of the world” before making a life-changing decision like marriage, then Mt Princess must be for you (yes again, a corny name). This climb (2126 m) starts from near Lake Tennyson, which also has romantic connotations. Alfred Tennyson was Poet Laureate during Queen Victoria’s reign and is in the top ten of most quoted writers; including the phrase “Tis better to have loved and lost / Than never to have loved at all”. So once you and your true backcountry love reach the top, quote her some poetry and gift her a rock.

Learn more about St James Conservation Area

What would be (or is) your preferred proposal spot? I’d love to hear from you…

Sarah Mankelow


A North Island defector, I came south to go to Lincoln Uni and never looked back. My first ‘serious’ job with DOC was in Arthur’s Pass. I've been based in Christchurch since the turn of the century!

7 responses to Kiss me Kate – Canterbury’s top places to propose to your princess



    What a lovely article! would you happen to know any D.O.C outdoor venues where you could get married?


    I just hope whoever writes these keeps writing more!


    I propose that you do the same for Right Royal Romantic Rendezvous in other gorgeous regions of NZ


    We got engaged in the rain on Ulva Island! It was perfect. We then saw a wild kiwi and had fish and chips in the Kea Cart!!! Pretty hard to beat and its our 2nd anniversary today x


      Sounds awesome – that’s how memories are made! Ulva Island is a real treasure. Congratulations on your two year anniversary!