A Chinese couple have notched up a romantic ‘first’ on the world-renowned Milford Track by celebrating their wedding at Pompolona Lodge.
Newly-weds Wei Sun and Jun Lu, from China’s Guangdong province, love hiking so their best friend Qiao Xinyu organised a wedding trip to remember on the track known as ‘the finest walk in the world’.
Sixteen friends came together from China and elsewhere to celebrate their marriage, for many making their first visit to New Zealand to do so.
Ultimate Hikes guide Julia Kepp said news of the proposed wedding celebration came as a “huge surprise” to everyone outside of the wedding group.
“We actually thought they were on their honeymoon and celebrating that with the trip with friends,” she said.
“It wasn’t until we got to Glade House, the first overnight stop on the walk, that they mentioned they were going to have their wedding ceremony somewhere on the track.
“We gave them some suggestions for spots along the track itself, but in the end they decided it would be better at a lodge.”
Wei Sun and Jun Lu had packed their wedding clothes into their backpacks, including a traditional wedding dress and high heels for Wei Sun. Her wedding flowers were collected along the track, and the ceremony was held on the helicopter pad at Pompolona Lodge on day two of the five day walk. (Friday March 15).
The whole group and lodge staff attended the wedding ceremony, although understandably most were not quite as well dressed as the bride and groom.
After the moving ceremony the couple had their wedding dance courtesy of Ultimate Hikes’ multi-talented guide Ryan Caldwell, who played the piano at the lodge and sang Neil Young’s Harvest Moon.
“They were an amazing group,” said Ryan. “They were all so happy and had a great time, and every night on the track was a celebration!”
Wei Sun said the couple were thrilled to have married in such an idyllic spot.
“Because we were hiking, our parents didn’t come along, but we will be having a family dinner when we return to China in my home province of Jiang Su,” she said.
She said the marriage had been registered in December, but the ceremony was “the important part” and they wanted to do it on a hiking trip.
“We couldn’t have done it without our friend Qaio Xinyu,” said Jun Lu. “He has been organising this trip since November and it’s been perfect.”
Qaio Xinyu lives in Melbourne and was convinced the couple and their friends would love hiking in New Zealand and topping it off with the wedding ceremony.
Fellow hiker and friend of the happy couple Chen Xiao Xiao said the whole group had had “the time of their lives”.
“We all loved the track and New Zealand, and we’re delighted to find out that the wedding celebration is the first anyone can remember.”