A great sampling of some of the best things to do and see in the beautiful Hunter Valley – no matter what you’re into, Hunter Valley Tours has got you covered!
The Hunter Valley region is one of the oldest wine regions in Australia, and considered by many wine connoisseurs to be the original birthplace of Australian wine. Known the world over for its Semillon and Shiraz offerings, this scenic valley is located only two hours away from the New South Wales Capital City of Sydney and a mere 45 minute drive from the beautiful coastal city of Newcastle. This gorgeous rural valley is home to world-renowned brands and family-run boutiques not just in wine, but also in chocolate, spirit distilleries, beer brewing houses, artisan cheeses and much, much more.
Aside from cellar-door fine wine tastings and vineyard tours, there’s plenty to enjoy in the Hunter Valley if you are looking for a little something different. Gourmet dining is one of the region’s popular attractions. Choose from a delicious array of artisan-crafted foods and farm-fresh produce, brought to life my talented chefs at top-notch restaurants offering everything from multi-course menus to high tea.
If you are traveling with family, you’ll find lots of activities for every age group. Hop on a hot air balloon and enjoy the scenery from up high, or take the kids to the Hunter Valley Zoo for live interaction with Aussie animals. Those who are into hiking or climbing can explore the World Heritage wilderness of Wollemi and Barrington Tops National Parks. All these diverse attractions are set against a backdrop of untouched natural landscape and picturesque vistas that you can take in from the ground or in the air.
Ways to Make the Most of Your Tour of Hunter Valley
If you are planning a weekend getaway from Sydney or Newcastle, check out our top 15 things to do in the Hunter Valley.
1. Develop your wine palate with premium wine tasting.
The Hunter Valley is wine country; some of Australia’s highly rated wines come from the more than 150 wineries in this region. In other words, no visit to the Hunter Valley is complete without sampling its award-winning selection.
Day tours can take you from Sydney or Newcastle to a local hotel, and then guide you through three to four wineries as you sample their range. Whether you’re a beginner or wine connoisseur, you’ll be able to choose between whole day and half-day options.
2. Take in all the sights aboard a hot air balloon.
One of the best ways to view the beautiful landscape of the Hunter Valley is to fly in a hot air balloon. During the one-hour ride, you’ll be able to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of mist-draped rolling hills and kangaroos hopping across the green patchwork of fields. A champagne breakfast awaits you when you touch down. It’s an intimate setting that’s perfect for wedding anniversaries, or those celebrating an important milestone in life.
3. Hike the trails of Barrington Tops National Park and experience a forest adventure unlike any other.
Barrington Tops National Park is a World Heritage site and one of the largest temperate rainforests in Australia. The most popular among its hiking trails is the 1,500-meter-high Aeroplane Hill Walking Track which gives a stunning view of the subalpine wetlands and picturesque waterfalls. While you’re hiking, keep an eye out for swamp wallabies, grey kangaroos, and other exotic wildlife.
4. Have a peaceful stroll along the coastal promenade of Bathers Way.
Walking down the six-kilometre Bathers Way is a great way to explore the city of Newcastle. Stretching from the lighthouse of Nobby’s Headland to Merewether Beach, this coastal promenade gives you a glimpse of Newcastle’s history, culture, convict heritage, and natural environment.
At the end of Bathers Way is a suspended bridge called Newcastle Memorial Walk, which was built to honour fallen soldiers and commemorate the centenary of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.
5. Kayak through the wild waters of Wollemi National Park and witness an unspoilt natural world.
Wollemi National Park is another World Heritage site featuring unspoilt bushland, cliffs, canyons, and gushing rivers. Explore the beehive-shaped rock formations of Dunn’s Swamp on a guided kayak tour and learn about its wildlife and aboriginal heritage. Rock climbing is also a popular activity in this pristine wilderness.
6. Enjoy an afternoon of art appreciation with the whole family.
The Maitland Regional Art Gallery is a museum for the whole family. This contemporary gallery housed in a federation gothic building features 11 exhibition spaces. The main collection focuses on paper, but sculptures, installations, and photographs from well-known Australian artists are also on display.
The museum dedicates an entire wing to children, highlighted by the Art Factory. Here your kids will be able to participate in art activities and special workshops.
7. Make friends with kangaroos and koalas up close at the Hunter Valley Zoo.
Feed the kangaroos, pat the koalas, and watch beautiful birds fly over you inside the aviary at Hunter Valley Zoo. These are just some of the activities in store for you when you visit the Zoo and it’s sure to be a hit with any animal lover. Get to see and touch exotic wildlife up close, including white lions, meerkats, cheetahs, lemurs, and marmosets with their Encounters experiences – an absolute must!
8. Walk along the Wollombi history village walk.
The best way to explore the charming town of Wollombi is through the Historic Wollombi Village Walk. This one-kilometre, self-guided heritage walk takes you from the aboriginal heritage of Wollombi to its convict and colonial days. Pick up a map at the Wollombi Museum to see old buildings, 19th-century sandstone cottages, and cosy guesthouses. The annual Wollombi Festival is hugely popular and frequently sells out, and the Wollombi Markets are a hit with locals and visitors alike.
9. Take part in heart-stopping action with an exhilarating skydive or drive.
Looking for an exciting way to tour Hunter Valley vineyards? Why not skydive or drive a supercar for the ultimate adrenaline rush!
Tandem-skydiving from 14,000 feet lets you drop from the sky in bullet speed, float like a cloud, and then touch down safely on the ground for a fun, wicked experience.
Or, you could book a Hunter Vineyard Cruise package! This adventure lets you drive a Lamborghini Supercar, McLaren Supercar, or 1968 Camaro SS muscle car to the Hunter Valley for three hours around the best vineyards in the area with Hunter Supercruise.
10. Discover a horticulture haven and smell thousands of flowers at Hunter Valley Gardens.
Hunter Valley Gardens covers more than 60 acres of flora organised into contrasting themes. The Rose Garden is an all-time favourite, while azaleas, magnolias and camellias adorn the Oriental Garden. Couples are sure to love the Lakes Walk, whereas kids can check out the nursery rhyme characters at the Storybook Garden. All these immaculately-manicured gardens are perfect for slow lazy afternoons.
11. Treat yourself to a relaxing spa day.
The Hunter Valley region is a favourite place for Sydneysiders and Novocastrians to unwind. Whether you’re dipping into a Jacuzzi or relaxing in an outdoor pool with a mountain view, spa treatments are the perfect way to reward yourself after a gruelling week. There are myriad of great options for spa-packages and treatments throughout the Hunter Valley.
12. Do your tummy a favour and sign up for a tasting menu.
Foodies who visit the Hunter Valley are spoilt for choice. All of the delicacies you crave – cheeses, chocolates, chutneys, grapes, aromatic oils, honey, olives – can be found in this fertile valley. Highly acclaimed restaurants such as EXP, Circa 1876, and Muse offer seasonal chef’s tasting menus at a rustic cafe or alfresco dining setting. For those with a sweet tooth, the award-winning Sabor dessert bar is a must-try.
13. Tee off at a world-class golf course.
The Hunter Valley hosts several 18-hole championship courses that cater to golfers of all skill levels. Check out the greens at the Vintage Golf Club in Rothbury – designed by Hall of Fame Inductee and Australia native Greg Norman. You can also show off your putting skills at the Cypress Lakes Golf Course in Pokolbin, designed by no less than Steve Smyers.
14. Sample the mouth-watering Hunter Valley chocolate.
Drop by the Twenty-3 Twenty Chocolate & Fudge Factory by the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company and watch those goodies line up before your eyes. The selection here is more than just milk chocolate – try the exotic chilli chocolate, fruit-blended fudge, rock candies, and brittles!
15. See the sights on a Segway.
Too tired to walk? Hop on the X2SE Segway and join the Hunter Valley off-road tour!
The guide will provide initial training in a large open space to make sure everyone feels comfortable on the Segway. Then the tour will proceed on a 5.5 kilometre off-road adventure down the tracks and trails of the 1880’s Stock Route, through the celebrated McGuigan Wines vineyard, and finally ending at the Hunter Bottling Company.
During your Segway ride, you may encounter kangaroos, foxes and even a wombat as you glide along the spectacular view of the Brokenback mountain range.
How to get around the Hunter Valley and see it all
Are you ready to explore the Hunter Valley? Our Hunter Valley tours are designed with tourists in mind. Early spring is the best season for many outdoor Hunter Valley tours, but you can also visit in the summertime when grape plants grow in abundance. Autumn and Winter can also be perfect for getting cosy with some mulled wines, filling up on hearty restaurant meals, lingering in a spa bath and enjoying the crispness of the countryside. There are many things to do, all year round, so book your Hunter Valley adventure today and start planning!