The best things to do in Hunter Valley
When you think of Australia, you might picture vast deserts, iconic landmarks, and bustling cities. However, tucked away in the state of New South Wales, lies a hidden gem that has been captivating visitors for centuries – the Hunter Valley.
Known as Australia’s oldest wine region, this area will surprise you with its romantic vibe and endless opportunities.
From indulging in world-class wines on a Hunter Valley wine tour, to exploring breathtaking natural landscapes, this beautiful region of Australia offers something for everyone. Here is your detailed guide to things to do in Hunter Valley.
Discover Hunter Valley’s century-old wineries
While the Hunter region promises natural beauty and luxury hotels complete with fine dining and spas, its main attractions are its world-class wineries. Here you’ll find the best Australian wine and landscapes that will leave you gasping. So, yes, add a winery to your itinerary. Here are some recommendations.
Audrey Wilkinson: Breakfast with Bubbles
For a truly delightful start to your day, embark on Breakfast with Bubbles at Audrey Wilkinson. This unique experience invites you to indulge in a delightful breakfast spread while savouring the winery’s finest sparkling wines. As you gaze out over the rolling hills and vineyards, let the flavours of the local wines dance on your palate, a perfect prelude to a day of wine exploration.
Brokenwood Wines: a journey into winemaking
Brokenwood Wines holds a special place in the Hunter Valley’s winemaking history. Established in 1970, the winery has earned a reputation for producing exceptional wines, particularly their flagship Semillon. Visit their cellar doors and embark on a spectacular wine tasting experience. From standard tastings to private tastings led by passionate winemakers, Brokenwood Wines offers a range of options to suit every palate and interest.
Tulloch Wines: a private wine tasting
For a truly exclusive experience, book a private wine tasting at Tulloch Wines. Nestled in the heart of the Hunter Valley, Tulloch Wines has been crafting fine wines since 1838. During your private tasting, you’ll have the opportunity to sample their wines in a serene setting, immersed in the winery’s impressive heritage and ambience.
Go wine barrel rolling at the Hunter Valley Resort and Farm
If you’re looking for a fun and memorable activity to do while you’re in the Hunter Valley, wine barrel rolling is definitely worth considering. It’s a great way to get some exercise, have some laughs, and learn a little bit about the history of winemaking.
The task is not easy…but that’s part of the fun! Wine barrel rolling is all about getting messy, laughing with friends, and enjoying the camaraderie of the experience. And of course, there’s always the chance to win a prize at the end of it, such as a bottle of wine or a voucher for a local winery.
Embark on a culinary adventure at the Hunter Valley Cheese Factory
For cheese lovers, the Hunter Valley Cheese Factory is a must-visit destination. Step into the factory’s cheesemaking room, where you’ll witness the magic of cheese transformation. Watch as skilled cheesemakers carefully curdle milk, mould and age cheeses, and transform them into a symphony of textures and tastes. They’ll guide you through the diverse range of cheeses, helping you find the perfect pairing to suit your taste buds.
Take a Hunter Valley hot air balloon flight
Hot air ballooning is a must-do for any traveller seeking a truly unique and spectacular way to explore the Hunter Valley’s natural beauty.
Your hot air balloon ride takes you on a scenic journey over the Hunter Valley, offering you a bird’s-eye view of its diverse landscapes. You glide over vineyards, rivers, forests, and green hills, gaining a newfound appreciation for the region’s natural splendour.
As you ascend higher on one of these scenic flights, the landscape below gradually morphs into a patchwork of green hues, dotted with pockets of farmland and meandering roads.
Venture beyond the vineyards and into the heart of the Hunter Valley’s verdant landscapes, where a network of hiking trails awaits, each offering a unique perspective on the region’s natural beauty.
For nature lovers, Barrington Tops National Park is the perfect place for a day trip. Here, you’ll find spectacular wilderness areas with towering mountain ranges, pristine forests, and cascading waterfalls, all waiting to be explored.
If you’re seeking a more tranquil hiking experience, skip the national parks and visit the Hunter Valley Gardens. With over 1 million ground cover plants – including a rose garden with more than 6000 roses – the gardens provide a kaleidoscope of colours and fragrances, making for a truly unforgettable experience.
Bike your way around the Hunter Valley wineries
The Hunter Valley’s cycling trails cater to all levels of experience, from leisurely family rides to challenging mountain bike adventures. There are lots of bike hire companies and you can get an electric bike if you’re after a more comfortable ride.
For a gentle introduction, follow the Hunter River Cycleway, a flat and scenic route that follows the banks of the iconic Hunter River, offering stunning views of vineyards and farmland.
Play aqua golf at the Hunter Valley Gardens Aqua Golf & Putt Putt
If you’re up for a fun activity that will help you build up an appetite, playing aqua golf is the best way to do it. This fun game combines golf with water elements and is played on a course with floating targets where players use special floating golf balls to try to hit them.
Several Hunter Valley resorts offer aqua golf. One popular option is Hunter Valley Gardens Aqua Golf & Putt Putt, which is located in Pokolbin. The course has 18 holes, and it is open seven days a week.
Take the whole family to the Hunter Valley Wildlife Park
Home to over 1,000 animals – from kangaroos and koalas to giraffes and lions – the Hunter Valley Wildlife Park provides an up-close and personal encounter with Australia’s unique wildlife, making it one of the best things to do in the area.
You’ll have the opportunity to hand-feed kangaroos, watch koalas snoozing in gum trees, and marvel at the majestic lions lounging in the sun.
Whether you’re visiting with young children or simply seeking a fun-filled day out, the Hunter Valley Wildlife Park is sure to delight. It’s a great place to learn about Australian wildlife, appreciate the beauty of nature, and create lasting memories with your family.
Add a splash of culture at the Maitland Regional Art Gallery
A visit to the Maitland Regional Art Gallery is the perfect way to spend a few hours in Hunter Valley. The gallery boasts a collection of over 4,000 works by Australian and international artists, spanning a diverse range of mediums and styles. From the delicate brushstrokes of Impressionist masters to the vibrant modernist creations of Pablo Picasso, the gallery has something to offer art lovers of all ages and backgrounds.
Stroll around the Levee
Escape the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse yourself in the charming atmosphere of the Hunter Valley’s waterfront precinct, the Levee. Located along the banks of the Hunter River, the Levee is a captivating blend of waterfront dining, shopping, and entertainment, offering a delightful escape for any visitor.
From casual eateries serving up fresh seafood and pizzas, to fine dining establishments showcasing exquisite degustation menus built from local produce, there’s no better way to spend a nice evening in Hunter Valley.
Have a lot of fun at the Storybook Gardens
At the Storybook Gardens, you’ll find giant sculptures of beloved fairy tale characters, which bring stories to life. This enchanting garden is a must-visit destination for families with young children. Look out for Cinderella, Snow White, and Peter Pan. The sculptures, crafted with intricate detail and vibrant colours, will transport you into the magical realms of your favourite stories.
Take cooking classes and learn more about the local culture
Unleash your inner chef and embark on a culinary adventure at Majors Lane Cooking School in Hunter Valley. This renowned cooking school offers a variety of classes, catering to both beginners and experienced cooks alike. Under the guidance of experienced chefs, you’ll learn the art of preparing delectable dishes using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. This is a great option for those seeking both a romantic getaway, or a fun-filled activity with friends and family.
Enjoy a horse riding experience
Saddle up for an unforgettable adventure in the Hunter Valley and embark on a horseback riding experience that will take you through the region’s picturesque countryside.
Hunter Valley Horse Riding offers a variety of trail rides, ranging from gentle strolls along the river, to exhilarating gallops through the rolling hills.
With experienced guides at your side, you’ll explore hidden gems and breathtaking vistas that are only accessible on horseback.
Host your wedding at a winery
How about spending your most special day amidst the rolling hills and picturesque vineyards of the Hunter Valley, where the air is perfumed with the sweet scent of grapes and the promise of a celebration to remember? Imagine exchanging vows under the shade of ancient olive trees, the sun setting over the beautiful valley casting a golden glow on your happy faces.
The Hunter Valley is a popular destination for weddings, and for good reason. Its romantic ambience, exquisite wineries, and world-class cuisine make it the perfect setting for a special occasion.
If you’re looking for a truly unique and memorable wedding experience, consider hosting your ceremony and reception at a winery in the Hunter Valley. You’ll be surrounded by stunning scenery, delicious food and wine, and the warm hospitality of the region’s people.
When is the best time to visit Hunter Valley?
The best time to visit Hunter Valley depends on what you want to do on your trip.
- Spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May) are the best times to visit the Hunter Valley for pleasant weather. Temperatures are mild during these seasons, with average highs ranging from 18 to 25 degrees Celsius. Autumn is especially beautiful, as the vineyards are ablaze with colour and the weather is perfect for taking a scenic drive.
- Winter (June to August) is the coldest time of year in the Hunter Valley, with average highs ranging from 10 to 15 degrees Celsius. However, it’s also the least crowded time of year, so if you’re looking for a quieter experience, winter is a good option.
- Summer (December to February) is the hottest time of year in the Hunter Valley, with average highs ranging from 25 to 30 degrees Celsius. Be prepared for hot, sunny weather and high humidity.
If you’re planning to visit wineries in the Hunter Valley, it’s important to be aware of the grape harvest season. The harvest typically runs from February to April, so if you want to experience the excitement of the the harvest, plan your trip during this time.
See also our detailed travel information on Western Australia here.