Hunter Valley is the ultimate mini-break destination with award-winning wineries, acclaimed restaurants, luxury accommodation plus a full calendar of festivals and events, now is the time to visit Hunter Valley.
Just two hours’ north of Sydney, you’ll fall in love with Australia’s oldest wine region, responsible for producing some of the best wines in the world such as the iconic Hunter Valley Semillon. With more cellar doors than any other wine region in Australia, you’ll barely scratch the surface during your wine weekend.
Here’s the lowdown on things to do in the Hunter Valley to make the most of your next Hunter Valley getaway.
Things to Do in the Hunter Valley
What to do in the Hunter Valley when you don’t drink wine
If you think there’s nothing to do in the Valley that doesn’t involve vino, think again. Jessica Humphries explores a host of indulgent activities...
With over 150 cellar doors to visit, a weekend is never enough to explore the Hunter Valley! From big-name wineries to boutique bottlers, Australia’s oldest wine region has it all. A couple of must-visits include Usher Tinkler Wines; one of the young guns of the region, visit this hipster hangout for wine tasting and salumi. Scarborough on Hermitage is a delightful cellar door experience where your generous hosts offer a complimentary cheese plate with your tasting! Across the road at Keith Tulloch visitors can enjoy wine in the premium tasting lounge overlooking the vines. For the vineyard with the best view, best photo opportunity for your group – and arguably the best moscato in the Valley, make sure you top by the Audrey Wilkinson cellar door – just make sure to book, as it’s very popular. Don’t leave without popping in to Cocoa Nib for the most delectable artisan chocolates.
If you’re after the perfect (and undiscovered) Hunter Valley road trip route, then we’ve got you covered. Check local guides in advance as some Hunter Valley cellar doors charge a tasting fee.
Hot Air Ballooning
What better way to see the tapestry of vineyards in the Hunter Valley than from the air with a hot air balloon flight over the iconic wine region. Balloon Aloft offer flights at sunrise, taking in the picturesque wine regions of Pokolbin, Lovedale, Rothbury or Broke followed by a champagne breakfast at Restaurant Cuvee overlooking the vines at Peterson House. Hot Air Ballooning in the Hunter Valley is the perfect activity for celebrating a special occasion or even a scenic backdrop to pop the question!
Hunter Valley Gardens
Hunter Valley Gardens are a natural wonderland. Wander the 8km of walking paths winding through 14 hectares of manicured gardens and enjoy the tranquillity. The garden display included 10 individually themed gardens showcasing the artistry of gardens around the world. While the gardens are the focal point, Hunter Valley Gardens has a packed calendar of events to entice families and nature lovers throughout the year including the popular Christmas Lights Spectacular. Visitors can also unwind and relax in the shopping village including the delectable Hunter Valley Chocolate Company.
On a recent visit to the NSW Hunter Valley, Flora King tires of wine tasting, takes to the saddle and meets the unlikeliest cowgirl in town.
Best Time to Visit
Hunter Valley is picturesque in any season and the best time to visit depends on your mood. Summer is harvest time; expect warm temperatures and lots of activity in the wineries. As the Autumn vine leaves turn a warm orange-red hue, celebrate the year’s harvest with the Hunter Valley Wine & Food Festival as well as the Lovedale Long Lunch in May. Winter in wine country is a beautiful time of year with clear skies, mild temperatures by day and retreat to a cosy fireplace by night. In Spring, the vines burst with light green foliage, flowers bloom and the Spring Festival of Flowers is held at Hunter Valley Gardens. The spring weather also attracts music festivals and the annual Opera in the Vineyards.
Thirty local wineries and food producers in the Hunter Valley are pooling their high-end nibbles and top drops for the area’s newest wine festival.
Choosing Where to Stay
Eight hidden accommodation gems of the Hunter Valley
There are more accommodation options in the Hunter Valley than you can poke a slice of smelly cheese at. for your holidaying pleasure, Here’s Austra...
Choosing where to stay in the Hunter Valley can be as complex as which cellar doors to visit! There is a vast selection of quality Hunter Valley accommodation from cosy cottages, villas with vineyard vistas, boutique hotels and luxury accommodation. To help make your decision easier, here’s our eight hidden accommodation gems of the Hunter Valley If you’d like to explore beyond popular Pokolbin, Lovedale and Broke then take the road less travelled and discover delightful Laguna.
A popular choice for visitors to the Hunter Valley is to stay in a B&B that offers a hearty start to the day before you head off for wine tasting. Hunter Valley Cooperage Bed and Breakfast sits on the boutique Kelman Vineyard and features rooms named after the wine (hello to the Chardonnay and the Shiraz suites!) as well as a downstairs theatre that you can have all to yourself if you time it right! Plus, the pancakes are to die for! Bella Wind Bed and Breakfast also features a great night’s stay with a couple who have literally opened up their home now that their children have grown up and moved out!
If you’re travelling to the Hunter Valley in a group, staying in an Airbnb can be a great way to get the team up there and ensure you’re all staying together. It’s also a good option for big families, or families travelling together, as having your own kitchen can be beneficial when feeding many mouths. There are an abundance of spacious villas, houses and cottages available from around $400 a night.
There are also an abundance of hotels to choose from; from the luxurious Crowne Plaza, complete with balconies overlooking the incredible golf course, to the self contained stays with Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort. These villas are also suitable for larger groups, as well as catering to couples. The central location makes these hotels just a stone’s throw from many of the major Hunter Valley Vineyards.
Put the wine glass down, there are also creative things to do in the Hunter Valley including a Candy Making Class at Hunter Valley Resort. Think peanut brittle, marshmallows and boozy rocky road, we’re in! Margan Wines offer a series of events and cooking classes throughout the year including a garden tour, hands on cooking class followed by feasting on the fruits of your labour with a gourmet lunch.
Husbands are with the kids, boyfriends have hit the golf course and dogs are at the neighbours. After weeks of careful planning and enough negotiating...
Top Places to Eat
The definitive list of the best places to eat and drink in the Hunter Valley
Hunter Valley locals are a savvy foodie community. Here are some regional gems worth visiting on a weekend getaway for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Hunter Valley is the perfect destination for foodies with restaurants serving up seasonal produce with creative flare complemented by local Hunter Valley wine, making it one of Australia’s finest dining destinations.
The best places for food & wine in the Hunter Valley include a selection of restaurants where the owner is also the chef, presenting their passion on the plate for all to see. Settle in to the intimate dining room at EXP with Chef Frank Fawkner serving up a creative menu focused firmly on fresh local produce. We highly recommend you indulge in the six course-tasting menu for a memorable foodie experience.
At Muse Restaurant Chef Troy Rhoades-Brown’s produce-driven menu is elegant and sophisticated. For more casual lunchtime dining, try sister restaurant Muse Kitchen at Keith Tulloch winery. At Bistro Molines be transported to South of France with Chef Robert Molines French influenced cuisine and charming country setting.
Be sure to book ahead at these popular Hunter Valley restaurants.
Festivals and long lunches
If you equate the Hunter Valley with any two events – besides the unbelievable concerts regularly hosted at the central Tempus Two estate, it’d definitely be the annual Hunter Valley Wine Festival, which sees the local wine makers and producers come together to show off their high-end nibbles and top drops – and the Lovedale Long Lunch. The Long Lunch sees busloads of travellers arrive in the Valley to venture from estate to estate, sampling the finest food and wine in a supremely chic country setting. This event has become famous for a reason!