If you are looking for the best things to do in Hunter Valley, the first thing that will spring to your mind is either exploring the Hunter Valley wineries and world-famous vineyards or experiencing the tantalising gourmet foods in local eateries. But, let me tell you guys, this valley will offer you more than that.
Hunter Valley is one most famous tourist destinations in Australia, a short distance from Sydney that attracts millions of people every year. And the reasons? Not just the wine and restaurants, but also hiking, hot air ballooning, horse riding, wine-barrel racing, scenic flights, visiting hunter valley gardens, chocolate factories, spas, art galleries, local markets, playing golf—Yeah, the list is very long.
It is easy to understand why this region is one of the most alluring getaways from Sydney. So, without wasting more time, let’s check out the top 15 fun things to do in Hunter Valley before planning your next trip here.
1. Enjoy The Wine Tastings
Your visit to Hunter Valley is incomplete without experiencing the wine tour. From specialty drops to red or white—you will be spoilt for choice in this wine country.
You can enjoy the tour with your gang or solo. Tasting the specialty wines while exploring the Hunter Valley region and discovering the surroundings is pure bliss for your mind and body.
Due to the health restrictions, pre-booking is mandatory for the wineries now. And for that, check out the online booking platform to secure your place in advance.
Here, I will share some of the best wineries in Hunter Valley that you should not miss while visiting this place.
It is my favourite spot for two reasons—you can taste five Tulloch Wines and five homemade chocolates in its 45 minutes of tasting time. And their offering of Kombucha or Junior tasting, an alcohol-free facility for kids and non-drinkers.
Besides taking a sip of Brokenwood wine and luscious sample food, you will also know about wine-making art and Brokenwood’s history.
You can enjoy your whole day at the Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard—a fantastic picnic spot that offers a wine tasting experience and a visit to their in-house museum.
If you want to taste authentic and vegan-friendly wine, stop at Oakvale. This pet-friendly winery is a great place to indulge yourself in some hand-crafted wines and enjoy the scenic view of Hunter Valley.
2. Go For Hot Air Ballooning
If you want to celebrate your wedding anniversary romantically, take your other half for a hunter valley ballooning to witness the picturesque view of the beautiful landscapes, vineyards, national parks, and farmlands.
Book your hot air Balloon ride at Balloon Aloft early in the morning and take in bird’s eye views of the Hunter Valley’s wine regions like Rothbury, Pokolbin, and Broke.
Balloon Loft also offers packages like Exclusive Flights. You will get the royal treatment with chocolate and champagne during the flight that concludes with a photo album and a delicious breakfast at Peterson House Winery.
If you are with a group, arrange a Corporate Flights for them—that offers a dozen balloons for 100 people per morning. And, if you have the plan to visit this place in October, don’t forget to take part in Balloon Fiesta—an event where dozens of colouring balloons drift over the valley at sunrise.
3. Learn Some Cooking Techniques
The best way to get a little closer to local culture is to attend the cooking class and get your hands on local organic produce. Joining some cooking classes will help you to do so. And undoubtedly, it is one of the best things to do in Hunter Valley.
Join the Hunter Valley Cooking School to learn some culinary skills from the chef. All ingredients you will get here are locally produced. You can also learn a course on Binnorie cheese made from a nearby cheese factory.
Do you want to prepare some pizza? Attain a Pizza Making Class at Hunter Valley. You will get the finest quality flour and organic tomatoes and learn the sauce preparation using the Italian method.
And if you have a sweet tooth, go for a Candy Making Class. Here you can prepare the alcohol-infused candies with the executive chefs, like Boozy peanut brittle or rocky road chocolate. You can also take candy and recipes with you home.
4. Spend Time At The Beautiful Hunter Valley Gardens
One of the top things to do in Hunter Valley is to spend some quality time in some of the beautifully manicured Hunter Valley gardens featuring flowers and trees that will amaze you with stunning sights, sensational colours, and mesmerising fragrances.
From exploring the fairy tale characteristics in Storybook Garden to observing the thousands of scented roses in Rose Garden—these ten themed gardens are waiting for you with their exotic plants, Italian grotto, delightful restaurants, Indian mosaic, and waterfalls.
You can also go for Aqua golf or Putt-Putt golf games and win a prize by just hitting a ball on the targets. And if you want, you can join some hunter valley golf courses in Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley Resort or Vintage Golf Club in Rothbury.
These award-winning Hunter Valley Gardens also arrange some fantastic events, including Christmas Lights Spectacular or the Snow Time in the Garden—which will take only a two-hour drive from Sydney.
5. Participating In Wine-making & Wine-barrel Race
What can be better than squishing grapes with your bare toes while jumping in an oak barrel and making some wine? Yes, learning the traditional wine-making process is one of the interesting outdoor things to do in Hunter Valley.
Soak your bare feet into the grapes and experience how the skin, stem, and seeds finally end up in your glass. So, book your grape stomping fun with your friends and get your feet dirty in a barrel to make some wine.
Are you with a competitive crew? That’s great. Go for a wine barrel-rolling race. It is a fun race where you can participate with your friends. All you have to do is roll the barrel of wines. And prize? Two bottles of local wine for the winning groups.
6. Visiting The Hunter Valley Zoo With Kids
If you are up for an entire family tour in Hunter Region, nothing can be better than exploring the hunter valley zoo with your kids. Situated within the wine country and near the Hunter valley gardens, this place is home to many native and exotic animals across the globe.
From feeding the kangaroos and farmyard animals to cuddling up with the koalas or patting a wombat—there are plenty of fun things to do at Hunter Valley Zoo.
Kids will love to see the animals like Meerkats, Ring-tailed lemurs, birds, dingoes, and replies. White Lions, Monkeys, Tasmanian Devils, and American Alligators are the exotic collections here.
With free barbeque and seating facilities, you can arrange a picnic for your family in this relaxed and fresh atmosphere.
7. Visiting The Hunter Valley Chocolate Company
Chocolate lovers, here’s good news for you. If you are in Hunter Valley, visit the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company & Fudge Factory and treat your tastebuds with some melt-in-the-mouth Belgian chocolate.
This Chocolate company is one of the most famous attractions for all tourists serving the finest quality handmade chocolate and freshly produced fudge for the last 20 years.
What’s so special? They use Belgian couverture chocolate with the coatings of Australian fruits and nuts. And for infusion, they use pure fruit oil to get the actual fruity flavour. Besides that, they have a wide selection of fudge and gelato too.
8. Take A Tour Of The Maitland Regional Art Gallery
Whether art is your first love or you want to spend some family time, taking a tour of the art galleries is one of the must-try things to do in Hunter Valley.
Located in the federation gothic building, the Maitland Regional Art Gallery aka MRAG is a model of 1900 architecture and today home of more than 6000 artworks made by some of the most famous international and Australian artists.
The artwork mainly focuses on paper, but it also carries art collections like photographs, sculptures, and installations. You will find a kids’ wing featuring art activities and workshops here.
Along with exploring the exhibition and gallery shops for the crafted artisan products, you can also visit Seraphine Cafe—a cozy cafe nestled between this art gallery to satisfy your soul and tummy with some delectable dishes.
And don’t forget to visit Newcastle Art Gallery—another worth visiting place for all the art lovers that will please your eyes with its beautiful collections of Australian and Japanese ceramics, Australian Indigenous Art, sculptures, and many more.
9. Strolling Around The Hunter Valley Markets
This valley is not just famous for having some top-quality wineries across Australia. But a perfect place to meet new people, explore the artisan products and taste local tipples and seasonal cuisine—in a word strolling around the markets scattering over the valley.
Maitland market is a very old one, situated in Maitland Showground, and has been offering artisan goodies and seasonal products for the last 25 years in Hunter Valley. You can also shop for clothes, lifestyle products, and antique items here.
Handmade in the Hunter Markets
This market is a must-visit place for all art lovers. You will love to buy handmade products like arts, jewellery, home decor, and paintings. And the best part of this market? It is located near Kevin Sobels wines. This cellar door will offer you a large selection of dry table wines, fruity whites, classic reds, and luscious desserts.
Wollombi Village Market
Wollombi Village Market is another market in Hunter Valley that you should not miss if you are searching for local produce like cheese, handmade jams, or sourdough bread. You can also explore the nearby Wollomi Village—a historic town and a famous rest stop dotted with cozy cafes, guesthouses, and sandstone cottages.
10. Be Adventurous With Hunter Valley Horse Riding
If watching the photogenic vineyards of Pokolbin and Lovedale from the aerial view is not your thing, what can be better than horse riding adventures and drinking the surrounding beauty at sunsets?
Yes, book a day with your whole family for an adventurous horse and carriage ride in the Hunter Valley. From exploring the picturesque spots of Molly Morgan Range to discovering the abundant farmlands and small villages or maybe some wildlife—this is undoubtedly an excellent tour for all ages and groups.
The horse-drawn carriages offer tourists wine tours, picnic rides, corporate events, weddings, and romantic charters. So, plan your trip and relax your mind in the peace and tranquillity of this wine country.
11. Relax Your Mind & Body At Spas
Taking spa treatments and pampering yourself to rejuvenate your mind and soul can be the best things to do in Hunter Valley. So, if you want to free yourself from the daily hustle and bustle, visiting the day spas or the heath retreats are nothing but heavens for you to make your vacation more meaningful.
Day Spas—You will get glowy skin when you treat yourself with hot stone therapy, body massages, and facial and body wraps.
Health Retreats—Replenish yourself in the Elysia Wellness Retreat Spa. It is the largest day spa and is famous for Watsu aquatic bodywork and other massages and body treatments.
12. Explore The Eateries—A Dreamland For Foodies
Whenever talking about the best things to do in Hunter Valley—having fine dining from local eateries and sipping the wine is my favourite one.
Hunter Valley is a hotspot for all food lovers and home to farm-fresh produce products like cheeses, chocolates, olives, and grapes. This place is also famous for having some of the best quality restaurants that your tastebuds will sing with joy.
You can plan your trip in eateries like Muse restaurant to get your hands on the most delicious chicken and oyster dishes, or maybe that Muse coconut dessert.
Make a stop at the Cellar Restaurant and try their slow-cooked lamb recipe with flatbread and pickled cucumber. And don’t miss out on pan-fried halloumi with beetroot, watercress, and tahini yogurt.
To satisfy your craving for dessert, head to Sabor Dessert Bar—an award-winning dessert restaurant famous for high tea, sweets, and wines.
13. Go Hiking At Barrington Tops National Park
If overnight hiking, fishing, picnic, and camping activities are on your bucket list, Barrington Tops National Park is the perfect spot for you to fulfil your needs.
This spectacular National Park, located in the upper valley region, holds some international significance for being a part of the Gondwana Rainforests. This World Heritage Site is home to a large number of diverse habitats, including birds and animals.
Plan for day hiking, where you can enjoy cycling trails, barbeque parties, and fishing—these are some of the best outdoor things to do in Hunter Valley.
Some popular hikes are the Blue Gum Loop Trail—which offers picnic spots and a riverside walk that passes through the rainforest. Antarctic Beech Forest Walking Track—comes with scenic views, bird-watching, and rainforest opportunities.
Aeroplane Hill Walking Track—is famous for offering wildlife spotting, scenic woodlands, and wetlands located in the sub-alpine region.
14. Going For A Coastal Walk
Nothing can be better than walking along the Bathers Way, which is the best way to experience the coastline, a hotspot for runners, bikers, and everyone.
It connects the Newcastle’s beaches from Nobbys Beach to the Mereweather baths. This coastal area will amaze you with the salty sea air, fantastic oceanic view, and hidden history.
Besides that, you will get the chance to visit Newcastle—the largest city of Hunter Valley, filled with eateries, parks, galleries, museums, gardens, and many more. Bathers Bay also connects the Newcastle Memorial Walk—a scenic bridge popular for whale watching and holds some historical significance as well.
15. Spending Night In A Tiny House
In the heart of this wine country, you will find tiny houses popping up all over the valley—spending a romantic night and having a candlelight dinner with your better half is one of the best memorable things to do in Hunter Valley.
Instead of booking a large hotel room or a big house, you can easily spend a relaxing weekend in a fully-equipped house while taking a sip of your favourite wine beside the campfire.
Malniri Park has been in Hunter Valley for nearly 40 years. It is a family-friendly spot overlooking the stunning Hawkesbury River.
Dam It Getaway is a fantastic property just 30 minutes from the Barrington tops national park. They offer an outdoor pool and spa with a beautiful view of the valley.
In Piccolino, you will have a calm and peaceful atmosphere without any internet connection. Located near the Wollemi National Park, it is a perfect place to explore the bushwalking tracks and aboriginal caves.
Tiny House 888 is housed in the heart of central Pokolbin and is the best escape from busy city life. With more than 150 wineries, landscapes, and restaurants, this is nothing but heaven to spend some quality time with your family.
I hope you have got enough idea about some of the top things to do in Hunter Valley in this article. Whether you are a wine lover, teetotaller, or a couple searching for alone time—this is a perfect place to spend your holiday.
From exploring the wineries and top-class restaurants with their delectable dishes to hot air-ballooning or experiencing hiking and camping—Hunter Valley is a dreamland for all the hodophile out there.
So, if you want to take a break from that eat-sleep-repeat lifestyle, just pack your back and plan a trip to this Australia’s oldest wine region.
Also, read—19 Amazing Things To Do In Albany.