Visit the Hunter Valley

Cycle your way through the Hunter Valley vineyards

Cycle your way through the Hunter Valley vineyards. Photo: Tourism Australia
 

The Hunter Valley is a two-hour drive north of Sydney.  It's Australia’s oldest wine region with around 150 cellar doors for you to sample. While the Hunter Valley's main attraction is its vineyards and wineries, it also has world heritage-listed national parks and nearby beaches, making it the perfect getaway in any season.  

 
How to get to the Hunter Valley

The best way to get to the Hunter Valley is to drive. If you don't have your own wheels, hire a car or book a tasting tour. You can get to the Hunter Valley by public transport but it’s not a direct route. You have to catch a train from Sydney to Maitland and then a bus or taxi to the wine country. The Hunter wineries and attractions are spread out over a huge area. 

Wine tasting in the Hunter

a group of men playing croquet and sipping wine in the Hunter Valley

Cheers to Hunter Valley wines. Photo: Destination NSW

The Hunter Valley is pure heaven for food and wine lovers. It's renowned for its semillon and Shiraz courtesy of its dry rich soil. However, I’ve tried all varieties of reds, whites, dessert wines, ports, and sparkling wines made in the Hunter, and every drop is as delicious as the last. 

Wineries range from small boutique family vineyards to international bestsellers. Each cellar door is as charming as the last you sampled. Some of my favourites are Tulloch, Saddlers Creek, Mountview, Brokenwood, Audrey Wilkinson, and Tamburlaine’s organic wine range. In fact, I don’t think I’ve been to any Hunter wineries where I haven’t fallen in love with their produce.

 
people horse riding in the Hunter Valley

Go horse riding in the Hunter. Photo: Destination NSW

 
If all this talk of wine has made you thirsty, visit the Matilda Bay Brewhouse for a cold beer or cider, or the Hunter Valley Distillery where you can taste test their vodka, gin and schnapps. 
 
Wine tours

From Sydney: There are plenty of Hunter Valley winery tours that start and finish in Sydney. Book a full-day tour and enjoy being chauffeured while you sample wine from morning till night. 

Already in the Hunter: grab a map from the tourist information centre and create your own adventure. Another way to get around the Hunter Valley is Hop-On Hop-Off Bus. Otherwise, book an organised tour - and there are plenty of great options to choose from. 

Hunter Valley food

a couple having a picnic among the vineyards

Have a picnic among the vineyards. Photo: Destination NSW

The Hunter is renowned for producing great cheeses, chocolates and country-style cooking. It’s also home to many great chefs who have escaped city-living to run their own restaurants and cafes.

  • Head to the Smelly Cheese shop to find more cheeses than you could ever dream of. Get the full smelly cheese experience and walk into the only Fromagery (walk-in cheese room). 

  • Head to the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company for home-made fudges, chocolates, truffles and more. Watch the chocolatiers at work through the viewing window – it’ll be all the sweeter when you bite into that sweet-treat.

  • Take a gourmet food tour with the Two Fat Blokes 

  • A few restaurant suggestions are:
    • Amanda's on the Edge
    • The Cellar Restaurant
    • Verandah Restaurant on Calais estate
    • Esca Bimbadgen at Bimbadgen estate
    • For something more casual, head to the Australian Regional Food Store and Café or Drayton's Log Press Café family restaurant for morning and afternoon teas, and lunches.

See some of our favourite activities and tours below.
 

Non-wine things to do in the Hunter

the Hunter Valley Gardens

Visit the Hunter Valley Gardens. Photo: Destination NSW

  • The Hunter Valley Gardens has 12 different themed gardens spread over 60 acres. Get lost in the Rose Garden which has thousands of sweet-smelling roses on display. The Sunken Garden is another popular spot with its 10 metre high waterfall and stunning garden beds and trees surrounding it. Don't miss my all-time favourite - the Storybook Garden where giant fairytale characters are sculpted from shrubs and flowers. See Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill tumbling down the hill, Alice in Wonderland at the Mad Hatters Tea Party, and the adorable Little Bo Peep!

  • For something completely spectacular, take off in a hot air balloon flight followed by a champagne breakfast. Enjoy stunning views and food in the Hunter Valley.

  • If history and culture are your thing, visit the historic town of Maitland with its 19th-century architecture, history museum, art gallery, old gaol and many craft and curio shops. You can see more of the same at nearby Morpeth and Newcastle where there’s also a signposted heritage walk. Get a free map at the Tourist Information and take a self-guided tour.

  • See local Aboriginal artists working on their artworks on the WUPA@Wanuruah art trail at the Hunter Valley resort.

 
 local Aboriginal artists on the Wanuruah art trail in the Hunter Valley

See local Aboriginal artists on the Wanuruah art trail. Photo: Destination NSW

  • Tour Maitland Gaol which housed some of Australia's most notorious criminals during its 150 years. Hear about their stories and their daring escapes. 

  • Visit the Hunter Valley Zoo and hand-feed a kangaroo, pat a koala, and meet the local monkeys, lions, and farmyard animals. Pack a picnic and make a day of it.

Outdoor adventures in the Hunter

people doing a quad bike tour at Port Stephens

Take an Aboriginal cultural tour on quad bikes. Photo: Destination NSW

  • Go surfing at one of Newcastle’s beaches or quad biking on the sand dunes. Head a little further north to Port Stephens where there are more surf beaches and lakes where you can fish, canoe, windsurf or watch the dolphins playing. 

  • Take a sightseeing cruise down the Hunter Coast. You’ll see pods of dolphins, seabirds, turtles and plenty of other marine life. (Cruises depart from Newcastle).
     

A ranger taking people through Copeland Tops State Conservation area in Barrington Tops

Tour Copeland Tops State Conservation area in Barrington Tops.  Photo: Destination NSW

  • Explore the magnificent World-Heritage Barrington Tops National Park in the upper Hunter Valley. This  National Park has rugged mountains, gorges and forests, and is perfect for bushwalking, horse riding, camping and 4WDing. Popular walking tracks include:

    • Aeroplane Hill Walking Track is 6km one way and takes around 2 hours. Walk through wetlands and woodlands to get to Careys Peak lookout and be rewarded with spectacular views. 

    • Antarctic Beech Forest walking track is a 2.5 km loop and takes just over an hour. The walk takes you through the rainforest, and past cascades and waterfalls. This walk is popular with birdwatchers.

    • Blue Gum loop trail is a 3.5 km loop that takes around 2 hours. The track takes you past cascades, eucalypts, and rainforests.

    • Devil's Hole lookout walk is 300 metres and takes up to 15 minutes to complete. This short walk is wheelchair-friendly.

 

 

Where to stay in the Hunter Valley

Peppers guesthouse in Pokolbin.

Stay at Peppers guesthouse in Pokolbin. Photo: Destination NSW

The Hunter Valley has endless choices of where to stay. Book into one of the many hotels, guest houses or local bed and breakfasts, and caters for all budgets. Just some options include Chateau Elan At The Vintage, Spicers Vineyards Estate, The Convent Hunter Valley.

Check out our recommended tours and activities in the Hunter Valley