Get us in your inbox

Search
Aerial shot of hot air balloons in Hunter Valley
Photograph: Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association

How to make the most of 48 hours in the Hunter Valley

With award-winning wines, show-stopping views, farm fresh produce and luxurious accommodation, the Hunter Valley is a gem of a destination

By Time Out in association with the Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association
Advertising

In Australia’s oldest wine region, the Hunter Valley, you’ll find a destination that is one of the nation's favourite getaways. The famed foodie’s paradise is of course best known for its vineyards, with more than 100 cellar doors to explore. But there’s so much more to the Hunter than just the vino. Expect luxury accommodation, unspoilt vistas, indulgent pampering and gourmet thrills, all just a few hours drive from Sydney. We’ve rounded up some of the best and most surprising experiences the Hunter Valley has to offer, perfect for a cheeky getaway.

Pack your bags!

No trip to the Hunter would be complete without a visit to some of the region’s many vineyards, and whether you’re a card-carrying sommelier or a total wine noob, there are experiences to suit every visitor. A good place to start is with a guided wine tour. Many come with lunch, transport and wine tastings included, and some even feature masterclasses and behind the scene tours where you can follow the winemaking process from grape to glass. Wine tours make for an excellent way to kick off a few days staying in the Hunter, but you can also simply make a day of it, with tours that will pick you up and drop you off in central Sydney. The best tours currently available are listed on the Hunter Valley Wine Country website.

Looking for some hot tips? Krinklewood Biodynamic Vineyard’s cellar door is located in a quaint cottage, offering up a great selection of whites that include unique varietals such as Portuguese-style Verdelho and Basket Press Semillion. If you’re partial to a glass of bubbly, then the specialty sparkling at McCaffrey’s Estate is a must-try. Take a trans-Tasman journey at Charteris Wines and compare the newer styles of Hunter Valley semillon and shiraz against pinot noirs and rieslings from Central Otago. If you fancy more variety or alternative styles, Wild Ren Wines showcases both modern and traditional styles from premium Hunter vineyards.

Flavoursome food
Photograph: Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association

Flavoursome food

While the area is best known for its wine, the Hunter Valley is also a produce paradise, with gourmet artisans of every variety creating delicious delicacies locally. Discover fabulous fromage at the Hunter Valley Cheese Company in Pokolbin, explore the area’s answer to Willy Wonka’s at the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company, or lunch amongst the vines with one of the Hunter’s gourmet picnic experiences. Chill out on the lawn at Jimmy Joans, a rustic restaurant that offers cosy vibes and hearty classics with a fresh modern twist. Restaurant Nineteen is the newest dining offering from the Grand Mercure at the Vintage. Here, you’ll find a dumpling bar, sports bar, beer garden and a bistro, all surrounded by a tranquil vineyard and luscious greenery. Hungry for more? The Hunter is also home to some of NSW’s finest restaurants, including Bistro Molines in Mount View and EXP Restaurant in Pokolbin, both nominees for Best Regional Restaurant in NSW at the Time Out Food and Drink Awards 2022.

Advertising
Superb stays
Photograph: Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association

Superb stays

If you want to immerse yourself in the Hunter Valley (and who could blame you if you do), why not linger a little longer among the vines? Perfect for a dreamy getaway, the cosy villas at Casa La Vina seem like something out of a romantic Western movie. The mud brick villas evoke Southwestern Adobe architecture and are each immaculately decorated with New-Mexican flair. Experience country living at its very finest at the adults-only Cedars Mount View. Their private villas are secluded among the gumtrees, combining rustic design with countryside luxe that makes for the perfect couple’s getaway. Pictured is Villa Lorea, which features open-plan living with custom-made double-glazed windows and doors, and an infrared sauna and alkaline water faucet to give you the opportunity to pamper your body. Families will find lots to love at the Crowne Plaza at Hunter Valley. There are elegant yet spacious suites available in proximity to a resort pool, water park and plenty of other amenities to keep the kids entertained.

Energetic exploits
Photograph: Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism

Energetic exploits

As it's such a vibrant hub for food and wine, you might not immediately think of the Hunter Valley as a go-to destination for those seeking a physically active escape. But in truth, there are plenty of ways to get your steps in, and then some, across the region. Hikers can take to the Great North Walk in Watagans National Park, where they can explore some beautifully unspoilt bushland, ideal for less experienced walkers. Looking for some breathtaking views? There are several double-tap worthy lookouts in the Mount View area, such as the Mount Bright Lookout. The World Heritage-listed Yengo National Park is part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, stretching from Wisemans Ferry to the Hunter Valley. It features tall rocky ridges and steep gorges as well as a number of Aboriginal sacred sites and rock engravings that have cultural significance to local Aboriginal communities. The Hunter is an ideal getaway for keen cyclists. There are several cycling vineyard tours operating in the area, but if you’d like to focus on the peddling over the plonk, the Hermitage Road cycleway has 10km of dedicated roads to explore. If you don’t have your own bike, Sutton Estate Electric Bike Hire will sort you out, so you can tour around or ferry between wineries at your leisure. And should you desire getting out on the water, a kayak on beautiful Lake St Clair is perfect.

Advertising
Self-indulgent spas
Photograph: Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association

Self-indulgent spas

After all that world-class food and drink, you might be feeling in need of a little TLC, and the Hunter boasts plenty of day spas where you can be preened and pampered to your heart’s content. You’ll find one of the region’s most luxurious spas at Château Élan at the Vintage Golf Club in Pokolbin, which has a range of therapies and treatments to choose from, including couples packages if you’re looking for a romantic retreat with your special someone. Heavenly Hunter Massage specialises in Lomi Lomi Massage, face and body treatments and wellness presented with the Aloha philosophy. Ubika Spa at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley is a refreshing sanctuary surrounded by picturesque vineyards and golf greens, framed by the rugged Brokenback Ranges. With a range of treatments, therapies and facilities on offer, Elysia Wellness Retreat Day Spa is a haven of rest and restorative practices.

Unexpected journeys
Photograph: Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association

Unexpected journeys

Sure, you could get around the Hunter by car, but why take the roads most travelled when you don’t need to take any roads at all. See the rolling hills and sprawling vines from a bird’s eye view on a dawn hot air balloon ride – ride with Balloon Aloft, Beyond Ballooning or Hunter Valley Ballooning. If you’re more at home on terra firma, saddle up and let some four-legged friends do the walking for you with one of the horseback tours available across the region. If you’re in the mood for something a little more high-octane, you can take a spin on the Go Karts Go track in Kearsley, or explore the 1880s stock route on a segway tour.

Advertising
Sensory sights
Photograph: Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association

Sensory sights

You can guarantee a feast in the Hunter Valley, and not just the kind you’ll find on a plate. The Hunter Valley Gardens, Australia’s largest international display gardens, offer a whopping 25 acres of botanical brilliance – a true feast for the eyes. Once you’ve enjoyed the Italian grotto, formal gardens, oriental oasis and the charming Lakes Walk, bid the day a fond farewell with a sundowner watching the sunset over the dramatically rugged Brokenback Range.

Enticing excursions
Photograph: Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association

Enticing excursions

Make the most of everything the Hunter and its surrounds has to offer and pepper your stay with some exciting day trips, such as a trip to the Hunter Valley Wildlife Park, where you can have close encounters with meerkats, marmosets, lemurs and squirrel monkeys. Or heighten your senses with a visit to the Hunter Lavender Farm located out in the peaceful village of Broke Fordwich.

Advertising
Heritage highlights
Photograph: Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association

Heritage highlights

As Australia’s oldest wine region and one of the first places beyond Sydney to be settled by First Fleet convicts, there’s a fascinating history to discover in the Hunter. The quaint village of Wollombi has many of its very first buildings preserved, so visitors can live a day in the life of people who first made their homes here in the mid-to-late 1800s. There are also many important First Nations sites in the area, including breathtaking examples of ancient rock art. The Wollombi Aboriginal Cultural Experience, led by Dhurug woman Leanne King, is an ideal way to learn the Ngurrumpa dreaming stories, local lore and the cultural history of the area, which has been an important meeting place for Aboriginal communities for millennia.

Retail therapy
Photograph: Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association

Retail therapy

Whether you’re stocking up your pantry, adding a few additions to your wine cellar, or sprucing up your home, there are wares aplenty to pick up on your weekender in the Hunter. If it’s wine you seek, the more than 100 cellar doors across the region have your back but look out for details of the regular farmers markets such as Handmade in the Hunter Markets, where you can purchase a huge array of produce and artisanal goods. The Hunter Valley Gardens Shopping Village is packed with delightful boutiques and art galleries where you can find the work of local artists and locally made homewares, so make sure you leave some room in the boot for your holiday purchases.

Advertising
Stress-free touring
Photograph: Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association

Stress-free touring

With so much to see and do across such a large footprint, there’s a risk you could send your blood pressure peaking with all the navigation and driving required to make the most of your holiday. So, why not ditch the designated driver rows completely and leave the navigating to the professionals? Thanks to the Hunter’s excellent network of hop on hop off tour buses, wine tour operators and even private guides for dedicated tours, you can simply enjoy the ride, safe in the knowledge that not only will you get where you’re going, but you’ll be doing so with an expert who can add a wealth of local knowledge and insight to your adventure.

Epicurean education
Photograph: Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association

Epicurean education

For the ultimate Hunter Valley souvenir, why not learn some skills that you can take home with you? At Our Italian Table, Jen Nicita invites guests to join her in the kitchen for an all-day pasta-making class. Not only will you learn pasta mastery, but you’ll reap the fruits of your labour with a group meal at the end of the session. Che fantastico! Wine has a reputation as the artist’s drink of choice. Come and find out why at Pinot and Picasso, where you’re encouraged to BYO wine and relax while you sip, paint, and create an awesome piece of art that makes for a great keepsake. If you’re a wine newbie, you won’t be after an educational wine tasting at Stay n Sip. Their trivia tastings are a true masterclass in all things vino, and you’ll leave with enough knowledge to impress your friends the next time you’re at a bar. Be inspired and broaden your horizons at Majors Lane Cooking School and partake in a fun outdoor cooking class on their beautiful vineyard. Their chef-led classes include Thai Street Food, Low and Slow Smoked Brisket, Vietnamese, Low and Slow Smoked Pork Ribs, Authentic Mexican and more.

Recommended

    More on getaways

      You may also like
        Advertising

        The best things in life are free.

        Get our free newsletter – it’s great.

        Loading animation
        Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?

        🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!

        Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!