One minute you’re sipping a sauv blanc, and the next you’re sampling sweets from the British Lolly Shop. One minute you’re on horseback, and the next you’re waving down at vineyards from the basket of a hot air balloon. Gourmet meets garden and wine-tasting meets wombat-feeding in the Hunter Valley, the perfect weekend getaway for a family who likes to try everything at least once. Make a start with this list of top 7 Hunter Valley activities to enjoy with kids. Brownie points for each activity you manage with a Hunter Valley wine in hand!
1. Hunter Valley Gardens
This vast landscaped park consists of a whopping ten different feature gardens. In fact, it spans 25 acres in total, so there’s plenty of running around to be had. During school holiday periods the Gardens are open longer hours and usually host extra activities for the kids, such as petting zoos and Christmas light shows. Over winter, the Snow Time in the Gardens is a firm family favourite which involves ice skating, snow ball challenges, ice sculpting and even a silent disco.
Next to the Gardens, it’s worth taking a stroll through the Village Shops. You’ll find lots of interesting little gift shops and foodie delights such as the Hunter Valley Christmas Shop, Hunter Valley Chocolate Company and (not to be missed), the British Lolly Shop.
2. Family-friendly Hunter Valley wineries
Not all Hunter Valley activities have to be exclusively kid-focused. There’s no reason to skip out on some grown-up fun. In fact, more and more Hunter Valley wineries are catering to families when it comes to wine tastings and more at their cellar doors. For hula hoops and skipping ropes, check out the famously kid-friendly Scarborough Wine Co. For the intimate, boutique winery vibe, hit up Elbourne Wines. To check out our complete list of top Hunter Valley family-friendly wineries, click here.
3. Hunter Valley Zoo
For younger kids, Hunter Valley Zoo is a fantastic interactive zoo where you can feed kangaroos and wallabies, hold a few reptiles and cuddle up to koalas. Meet wombats, lions, meerkats and more with a daily schedule of shows and keeper talks. And for something extra special, book an up-close encounter with a lemur, tamarin, meerkat or marmoset.
Settle in and make a day of your trip by bringing a picnic. Make use of the free BBQ and tables, or grab a sandwich and snack from reception.
4. Hunter Valley Horse Riding and Adventures
Horse riding through vineyards with Hunter Valley Horse Riding and Adventures is something even the grown ups will enjoy. It takes about an hour and a half to meander through the trees, taking in the spectacular views of the valley below.
Hunter Valley Horse Riding & Adventures also operate an off-road 4WD evening adventure, which is a great opportunity to see some of the native wildlife, much of which are more active at night.
5. Segway tour at the Crown Plaza
On a Segway tour at the Crown Plaza, you get to go off-road and through the surrounding bush. You’re likely to see kangaroos, foxes, hares and wombats, but you’ll need to be quiet so you don’t scare them away.
6. Balloons Aloft
It’s an early start at 4am, but hot air ballooning over the beautiful Hunter Valley with Balloons Aloft is an experience you will never forget. The balloon glides swiftly and silently above the valley as you watch the vineyards drift by below, and kangaroos scatter in your shadow.
7. Hunter Valley Cheese Factory
The Hunter Valley Cheese Factory has a number of different tasting experiences to choose from. Whether it is a washed rind, Irish cheddar, blue vein or marinated feta, you’ll find a yummy souvenir to enjoy at home with some crackers and Hunter Valley wine.
Don’t let your dairy adventure end there. At Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop, you can follow-up your camembert with an authentic Italian gelato. More than 200 flavours are made on site.
Don’t forget to check out our picks of the top 9 family-friendly wineries in the Hunter or even our guide to the best family-friendly wine regions around Australia.