Over Wine Tasting? Cool Things to Do in the Hunter for the Active Traveller
A wine-drenched holiday is certainly guaranteed in the Hunter Valley, but there’s so much more behind the pretty vineyard face. When you love to get out in the great outdoors, leap into thrilling activities and discover natural wonders, you’ll find a wealth of adventures to say ‘cheers’ to with your sunset wine.
Do you want to do it all? Our private Hunter Valley tours combine wine tastings at the Hunter’s celebrated wineries with your choice of fun activities and attractions in the region. If you’re visiting with the little ones or for a family birthday – or you’re just not that into wine – we’ll design an action-packed tour itinerary to suit you.
Grape stomping ($35pp) at Hunter Valley resort, Aqua Golf ($8pp) and Putt putt golf ($12pp for both) at Hunter Valley Gardens Village, High Tea at Voco Kirkton Park (starting at $59pp), visit the Hunter Valley Zoo, ride a Segway, explore Hunter Valley Gardens, attend a cooking class with a Hunter chef, go horse riding with Hunter Valley Horses, enjoy a hot air balloon ride, helicopter ride or even a flight in a vintage war plane from Cessnock airport. Try Pinot and Picasso at Maitland for an artistic experience where you can paint with your pals whilst enjoying a cup of tea and a delicious grazing box of cheeses, meats and more or you can multitask with the wine drinkers in your group enjoying a classy drop of vino whilst they paint.
There are far more options than you think so check out the details below to plan your Hunter Valley adventure for non drinkers.
Ready to explore? Let’s launch into Hunter Valley adventures.
Visit the Hunter Valley Zoo
Hand-feed kangaroos and wallabies, ‘ooh and ahh’ over baby farmyard animals and hang out with rainbow lorikeets at the Hunter Valley Zoo. A great day out for kids and big kids at heart, daily shows put you up-close and personal with cheeky monkeys and mighty crocodiles, with expert talks to add a fascinating educational element.
Wander around walk-through yards and watch the antics of Tasmanian devils, dingoes, meerkats and even ring-tailed lemurs. Stock up on the region’s succulent fresh produce and bring a packed lunch to enjoy lovely picnic areas and gas barbecues.
Explore the Hunter Valley Gardens
Ten themed gardens provide a whimsical adventure in nature, with roses, oriental species and formal landscapes that change magically with the seasons. The Hunter Valley Gardens stretch across 225 hectares in Pokolbin, of which 60 acres are dedicated to international display gardens. Put your walking shoes on to traverse eight kilometres of paths and get your camera ready for sparkling waterfalls and enchanting statues.
Once you’ve soaked up the serene atmosphere, grab a coffee and check out the quaint jewellery, glassware, candle and boutique clothing stores at the Shopping Village just outside the entrance. If you’re travelling with the kids, there’s a playground and a picnic area onsite too.
Gallop into the sunset
Imagine horse riding alongside wallabies and kangaroos as they graze on the grass in the golden light of sunset? A horse riding adventure is a spectacular way to discover the Hunter Valley countryside. You’ll explore the Molly Morgan Range, with trail rides for beginners up to experienced riders who’d like to take on the higher ridges. At Hunter Valley Horse Riding and Adventures, there’s plenty more to do before or after your ride. Pop the kids on a tractor ride to feed the animals or treat them to a thrilling pony ride. Go bushwalking, bird watching or mountain bike riding, or arrange an exciting marriage proposal onsite. Apparently, the venue has a 100% success rate!
Segway around town
If you’ve ever seen a Segway glide by and thought that it looked a little tricky to master, you’ll be happy to know that it’s a lot easier than it looks. Plus, if you’re visiting for a hen’s weekend or any kind of party, this is a fun way to hang out as a group and have a barrel of laughs along the way.
Tours run from the Adventure Centre Hunter Valley and start with a lesson so you’re comfortable to set off. A guide will take you along off road tracks and across the 1880s Stock Route, which leads to the property of the Hunter Resort. Keep your eyes peeled for hares, kangaroos and foxes, as you make your way to Vanessa Vale vineyard and the Hunter Valley Bottling Company.
Cultivate your cooking skills
After you taste the seasonal produce and farm to fork cuisine of the Hunter Valley, chances are you’ll find inspiration to amp up your own cooking skills! The Hunter Valley Resort offers a purpose-built Cooking School Kitchen so you can take some of the foodie magic home with you.
Under the helm of Executive Chef Phillip Collis and his team, the hands-on classes consist of three-course lunches or dinners that you’ll make from scratch. That’s not all though, as the courses include a tutorial with the cellarmaster and…drumroll please…eating your delicious creations.
Get a bird’s eye view
Have you always wanted to take a helicopter ride? What could be better than flying high over soaring mountain ranges and undulating vineyards? Hunter Valley Helicopters offer scenic flights that range from 10-minute joy rides to premium private tours.
For example, do the Ultimate Bubbly Breakfast tour to launch as the sun rises and set down at one of the Hunter’s cafes for a champagne morning feast. If you want to pop the question or give someone a birthday gift of a lifetime, they’ll also plan a special occasion flight to suit.
Hike the Yengo National Park
When you’re looking for remote seclusion, take your hiking boots to the Yengo National Park. Part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage area, dramatic gorges and ridges join Aboriginal cultural heritage and gorgeous walking trails. To take it easy, trek the Finchley Cultural Walk and discover Aboriginal engravings along the way.
The Circuit Flat walking track is a great one for bird watchers, with turquoise parrots to spot among the trees. You’ll also see Australia’s second-oldest bridge, which was built by convicts in 1831. To work off last night’s rich cuisine, traverse through remote wilderness areas for six kilometres on the Yango walking track. Love your 4WD or mountain biking? Get your thrills on the Big Yango loop trail.
Rise high in a hot air balloon
With the perfect combination of blissful serenity and heart-pumping fun, it’s hard to beat a hot air balloon ride – especially when you’re floating in silence over the Hunter Valley. If you’re not too awe-struck, the photo opportunities alone make this a truly memorable experience. The flights depart at sunrise and float across Pokolbin, Lovedale, Rothbury and Broke for around an hour. Being the Hunter Valley and all, it makes sense that your flight ends with a gourmet champagne breakfast at a vineyard.
Go for a hole in one
Hands up if you want to go from the greens to the vineyards and back again? You’re in luck, with gorgeous places to take a swing. And, courses just happen to be right near vineyards, to take a refreshing sip. The Hunter Valley Golf and Country Club decorates the Crowne Plaza in Lovedale, with an 18-hole championship course.
Rothbury hosts the Greg Norman-designed Vintage Golf Club, surrounded by the vines of Bimbadgen winery. In Pokolbin, Cypress Lakes Golf and Country Club features views to the Brokenback mountain range. If you’re staying in Maitland, go for a round at Easts Leisure.
Spend a day at Lake St Clair Staying in Singleton?
You’re not far from Lake St Clair and hours of watery fun. Sparkling within the hills of the Mount Royal Range, it’s the perfect spot for a picnic with your Hunter Valley cheeses, while the kids splash in the water. Along with swimming, you can sail, kayak, water ski, fish and camp onsite. There’s also a lovely drive along the eastern shoreline on Carrowbrook Road.
Take a spin on Tourist Drive 33
Road trip fans won’t want to miss out on a countryside spin across Tourist Drive 33. It extends through Calga, Wollombi, Cessnock, Pokolbin and Banxton with attractions for stopovers along the way. You’ll drive on the original Great North Road, which is a 240-kilometre stretch built by convicts between 1826 and 1836. Along with sweeping views, the drive takes you to Yengo and Werakata National Parks.
Traverse the Great North Walk
Overlooking the city of Cessnock, the Bimbadeen Lookout is a scenic reward after exploring the bushlands on the Great North Walk. For a chilled-out trek, follow the Mount View ridgeline to Pokolbin Mountain Road. Don’t forget your water bottle and some snacks for the hike from Millfield village, which is 13 kilometres one-way and takes you into Hunter Valley Dry Rainforest.
Swap wine for beer and cider
Just because you’re over wine tastings, doesn’t mean you can’t wet your whistle with something else, right? Let us know and we’ll turn your wine tour into a beer fest and throw in some vodka tastings along the way. The Mighty Hunter Valley (Potter’s Brewery) produces their own signature brews, like the German-style golden ale, Kolsch. Are your taste buds more aligned with gin, vodka or butterscotch schnapps? Hunter Distillery offers top shelf spirits for your tasting pleasure, including their award-winning Copperwave Distilled Gin.
The wine connoisseurs in your travelling party can always fulfil vineyard fantasies to their heart’s content in the Hunter Valley. However, for those of you wishing to spot wildlife, hike, bike and befriend local craft beer, that’s all here for you too. So, what are you waiting for? Ask us about our private wine tours of the Hunter Valley that can be customised to suit the wine drinkers and the adventure seekers in your group.