How to get the best tour prices when you are on a budget
Visiting the Hunter Valley on a budget? Need a tour to make your trip “wallet friendly”? Joining a tour is still the best way to get access to better deals at the cellar doors, get to taste and experience more than the average “walk in” visitor from the public and for everyone in your group to be able to participate – no one in your group has to miss out in order to be the designated driver!
If you are looking for the best tour deals in order to keep your Hunter Valley tour affordable for everyone in your group, follow these tips to keep your trip economical so there are no post tour financial hangovers – only wine related ones!
Full day tours on a shared bus start at $115-125pp (including cellar door tasting fees).
Private tours generally start at $$1050 for a 13 seat bus (these are charged per bus exclusively hired rather than per person) for pickup from your Hunter Valley accommodation in Pokolbin, Rothbury, Lovedale, Cessnock and surrounds (not including tasting fees) on a Saturday.
Half Day Tours
When websites advertise “prices starting from” they are often quoting a half day price. Half day tours are usually 3 – 3.5 hours in length whereas a full day tour usually lasts around 8 hours (it may be closer to 9 hours depending on the travel time from your accommodation). A typical half day tour in the Hunter visits 3 cellar doors with a quick visit to the cheese and chocolate shops and costs around $90 – $95pp AUD on a Saturday (the most popular day in the Hunter).
While this might seem like a great low price Hunter Valley wine tour at first, there is always the question of value versus price. As tour operators have many of the same expenses to run a half day tour as they do to run a full day tour, the half day tour price is around ¾ of a full day tour price.
You can get up to 8 hours of Hunter Valley tour fun when you opt for a full day tour ($115 – $125pp AUD depending on whether cellar door tasting fees are included or at your own expense in addition to the tour price).
Some tour companies offer half day tours in 2 sessions (a morning and an afternoon session) however this makes for a rushed tour (they have to fit the next or the previous session in so there isn’t time for the usual tour “atmosphere magic” and photos).
It’s such a shame to jam in a quick look at a few cellar doors for almost the same price as a full day tour so unless your reasons are time based (you need to attend a wedding or some other activity in the valley), I wouldn’t recommend choosing a half day tour simply for economic reasons.
Pro Tip: Watch out for hidden tasting fees! Some tour operators advertise a great looking price however the fine print explains that you’ll need to pay tasting fees at the cellar door if you don’t purchase. This can be awkward as cellar doors won’t bill $5pp to each individual on the tour via Eftpos (it would take too long and the transaction fees are not feasible for frequent small amounts). There is nothing worse than having to “pass around the hat” after each cellar door and collect fees or rely on people you don’t know paying their share !
Hint: Look for tours where the cellar door tasting fees are collected upfront in the tour price (our Hunter Valley Wine and Beer Adventure Tour is a good example). This way there are no awkward moments and you don’t have to rely on others in your tour group (that you may not know) to pay their fair share.
Grab your gal pals (and their pals or partners!) and put together a private tour
While private tours for small groups (8 people or less) can be quite expensive (hence mixed group shared bus tours are best for groups with these numbers), private tours are great value for groups of 11-13 people (on a 13 seat bus) and groups of 16-20 people (on a 20 seat bus). Private wine tours of the Hunter Valley usually have a set price per bus so when you have a large group to share this amongst, the cost becomes cheaper the more people you have onboard.
This is a little bit of a gamble however as a great price per person relies on the group numbers. If the majority of the group drop out at the last minute the price can no longer be as attractive. However, if you know your numbers and you have a larger group you can save a bit on the transport and put your budget towards the cellar doors you’d like to visit. On a private tour you can choose the venues (and we book them in for you so you don’t have to worry about making phone calls and making all the appointments fit together into a custom itinerary) so you can choose cellar doors that are more budget friendly or you can choose to splurge on a particular cellar if it is your favourite.
Join a Sunday or mid-week tour
Ever heard of “cheaper Tuesday” at the pizza shop? Well it’s “cheaper Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday” in the Hunter Valley!
While not all operators will be running tours on these days (traditionally Mon and Tues or Mon/Tues/Wed are the “weekends” for all of us who work Sat and Sun in the Hunter) if you can pick up a tour on these days and you can avoid the weekends you’ll get cheaper tour prices and the cellar doors will be much quieter and able to spend more time with your group.
In 2023 Tastes of the Hunter Wine Tours will be running our Hunter Valley Wine and Beer Adventure Tour (able to be booked by any size group) on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays which is a great option for cheap hunter valley wine tours.
If you have a group of 8 or more people you can get fantastic off peak rates for private tours (bus reserved exclusively for your group and no other passengers where you can choose a custom itinerary that we help design with your input and book with the venues) which run Mon-Fri as well as Sunday.
All of the above are great ways that you can save $$ on your Hunter Valley tour without having to compromise on tour quality. The Hunter Valley is such a beautiful place with gorgeous local produce and amazing people. With a little planning and the above tips, you can enjoy it without having to burn a hole in your wallet!