Sophie Watson, 30.01.2017

Signed, sealed, delivered: Kiwis want love letters for Valentine's Day

This February 14th, you can forget the flowers and chuck the chocolates – our new survey has revealed what people really want for Valentine’s Day: handwritten love letters. What's more, far from being a dying art, 82% say they've written heartfelt love letters in the past, and Kiwis are still far more likely to treasure a handwritten letter than a love text.¹

Sealed with a kiss: Kiwis are smitten with love letters

It's official: even in this technological age, love letters are still one of NZ's most-loved romantic gestures. In fact, in our recent survey of 200 Kiwis, love letters were revealed as the gift-most-wanted for Valentine's Day 2017. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed - 60% - said that their dream present would be a heartfelt love letter or poem; which means that love letters are a more desired gift than being taken to a fine restaurant (chosen by 26%) or getting flowers and chocolates (picked by 12%).   

What's more, New Zealanders don't just want to get love letters, they're giving them too: 81% of those in the survey said that they believe love letters to be a vital part of a happy relationship, with 77% of men and a whopping 85% of women stating that they've written some form of love letter in the past.

The greatest love letters in history

So what makes a love letter so special? Perhaps history can tell us. We asked those in the survey to vote on their favourite love letters of all time, and we've collected the best below. They're the perfect addition to any Valentine's Day celebrations.

Not only are these letters beautiful, they're the perfect inspiration if you're thinking of writing something heartfelt of your own. Flick though our slideshow and feel the romance!

The world's seven greatest love letters

  • Johnny Cash's love letter to June Carter Cash1/7
  • Eleanor Roosevelt's love letter2/7
  • 3/7
  • 4/7
  • 5/7
  • 6/7
  • Frida Kahlo's impassioned letter of love7/7
  • #1 Johnny Cash's life-long love


     “We get old and get used to each other. We think alike. We read each other’s minds. We know what the other one wants without asking. Sometimes we irritate each other a little bit. Maybe sometimes take each other for granted. But once in a while, like today, I meditate on it and realize how lucky I am to share my life with the greatest woman I ever met.”

     - Johnny Cash (to June Carter Cash)


    With 44% of the vote, Johnny's appreciation of his June is NZ's most beloved love letter.

  • #2 Eleanor Roosevelt's secret love


    ‘’Ah, how good it was to hear your voice. It was so inadequate to try and tell you what it meant. Funny was that I couldn’t say je t’aime and je t’adore as I longed to do, but always remember that I am saying it, that I go to sleep thinking of you.”

     - Eleanor Roosevelt


    Eleanor Roosevelt's tribute to love that burns strongly even when not spoken out loud gained 16% of the vote

  • #3 Ernest Hemingway's unrequited love


    “I can't say how every time I ever put my arms around you I felt that I was home. Nor too many things. But we were always cheerful and jokers together...”

     - Ernest Hemingway to Marlene Dietrich


    Ernest's unrequited yet relatable pining for the glamorous, unattainable Marlene Dietrich just narrowly missed out on the #2 spot - it came third, with 13% of the vote, showing that even the love that comes from friendship can have its own romance.

  • #4 John Keats' absorbing love


     “My love has made me selfish. I cannot exist without you — I am forgetful of every thing but seeing you again — my Life seems to stop there — I see no further. You have absorb’d me.”

     - John Keats


    Sometimes your feelings strike you like lightning. Whether this consuming affection is love or infatuation isn't always clear - but what is clear is that 12% of Kiwis love this quote. At #4, it's Keats.

  • #5 Richard Burton's fervent love


    ''My blind eyes are desperately waiting for the sight of you. You don’t realise of course, E.B., how fascinatingly beautiful you have always been, and how strangely you have acquired an added and special and dangerous loveliness.”

     - Richard Burton to Elizabeth Taylor


    Their love may have been infamously tumultuous, but their passion is obvious. Richard and Liz take the #5 spot and 9% of the vote

  • #6 Napoleon Bonaparte's passionate love


    ‘’Since I left you, I have been constantly depressed. My happiness is to be near you. Incessantly I live over in my memory your caresses, your tears, your affectionate solicitude. The charms of the incomparable Josephine kindle continually a burning and a glowing flame in my heart...”

     - Napoleon Bonaparte


    True love still burns bright at a distance, and Napoleon's memories of his beloved Josephine were warm enough to earn 4% of the vote and a 6th place finish.

  • #7 Frida Kahlo's overwhelming love


    ‘’Truth is, so great, that I wouldn’t like to speak, or sleep, or listen, or love. To feel myself trapped, with no fear of blood, outside time and magic, within your own fear, and your great anguish, and within the very beating of your heart.”

     - Frida Kahlo


    It may be the greatest love letter for just 3% of New Zealanders, but nonetheless, Frida Kahlo's ode to her Diego is an incredibly moving, evocative piece of writing.

How to write a love letter

Feeling inspired after those beautiful words? It might be time to join the busy ranks of Kiwi letter writers. Before you do, however, it's important to remember a few of the factors that go into crafting the perfect love letter:

1. Write from the heart

Don’t fret about finding endlessly creative ways to say I love you - a great love letter doesn’t have to be all polished prose. In fact, 82% of survey respondents said that they actually preferred raw passion to poetic writing, indicating that a letter written straight from the heart is more special than one that focuses on evocative imagery.

2. Honesty is definitely the best policy

Similarly, only 5% of Kiwis think that beautiful writing is the most important part of a romantic letter. Honesty is far more valued: nearly four in five people (77%) say that honesty is the most important thing to try for; followed by 8% who think it's vulnerability. 

3. Use pen and paper

The medium matters when writing to your beloved: 60% of New Zealanders say that handwritten, paper letters are the most romantic. This by far eclipses the 5% of Kiwis who think that text messages are the romantic medium to beat.

4. Send your love letter only once you're already dating

It's also important to pay attention to when in the relationship you send your love letters. 23% of Kiwi men said that they would use a love letter to express interest in someone before dating them. However, only 11% of women said this was appropriate, with 89% preferring to wait until they're exclusively dating someone. Perhaps these eager Romeos are best to err on the side of patience!

5. Know that the recipient might just treasure it forever

One final tip: if you do write your sweetie a love note, know that it might stick around. Indeed, Kiwis are likely to treasure their love letters, sometimes forever: 86% of men and a huge 90% of women think that it’s perfectly acceptable to keep love letters from an old flame. What’s more, 55% of men and 67% of women think it’s fine to keep old letters even when you’re with someone new.

EliteSingles editorial, January 2017

Do you have tips for writing the perfect love letter? Or know of a famous romantic letter that didn't make our shortlist? Let us know! You can tell us in the comments below, say hi on Facebook or Twitter, or drop us a line at