“There’s always another story; There’s more than meets the eye.” – W.H. Auden.
When thinking of the Hunter region in sunny New South Wales, most people automatically associate it with leafy vineyards and delicious wine tasting. After all, there are dozens of world-class cellars to explore if you enjoy sampling a good drop!
But are there any things to do in Hunter Valley for non drinkers? What else is there to see and do in this area located just 2 hours from Sydney?
Fortunately for me as a local Sydneysider, I’ve made my fair share of trips to the Hunter Valley over the years and enjoyed a long weekend stay recently. I went on the hunt for things to do besides wine tasting and there was much more than I first realised.
NOTE: This guide forms part of my larger article for things to do in the Hunter Valley region, so take a look for extra details I’ve not listed here once you’re done. It also forms part of my guide to weekend trips from Sydney for ideas 3 hours drive or less.
If you prefer not to drink during your visit and are worried there isn’t much for you, no need to fear. I’ve teamed up with Klook to bring you this non-wine guide to the Hunter Valley so if you’re interested, read on for more!
This guide to things to do in Hunter Valley for non drinkers will cover:
This article was written in partnership with Klook and contains affiliate links at no extra cost to you. I may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.
14 Enjoyable Things to Do in the Hunter Valley for Non-Drinkers
As an invisible tourist, I thoroughly enjoy digging beneath the surface of any destination to uncover often overlooked experiences. There is always more than meets the eye and I love to share my findings here on my travel blog to help you make the most of your visit, too!
In saying that, from my recent stay these are my top discoveries for things to do in the Hunter Valley for non drinkers.
Admire the Hunter Valley from the skies above
It’s hard to appreciate the scale of the Hunter Valley unless you see it from above! Fly over the rolling green hills to admire the uninterrupted views of Brokenback Mountain Range, the geometric patterns created by rows of vineyards, and maybe spot some animals at dawn!
Sunrise hot air balloon flight
There’s a reason why hot air ballooning appears on many lists of things to do in the Hunter Valley. It’s such a special, unforgettable experience! A hot air balloon flight makes a unique gift idea to celebrate a special occasion such as a milestone birthday, marriage proposal or wedding anniversary. Or, just because!
I was a little apprehensive of the idea of riding in a hot air balloon at first, but I bit the bullet and it was nowhere near as scary as I had anticipated! Now having tried this myself, I’d even love to experience another flight in a new destination someday.
Scenic helicopter flight
Have you always wanted to fly in a helicopter? This is probably one of the most fun things to do in the Hunter Valley for non drinkers!
I absolutely LOVED my scenic helicopter flight in the Hunter Valley, it was so great to hear the engine roar and propellers speed up as we lifted off the tarmac at Cessnock Airport. It’s hard to describe the feeling but if you love anything to do with aviation, this encounter is for you.
Allow your pilot to showcase the best of the Hunter Valley on a scenic flight soaring above the vineyards, discovering the scale of Hunter Valley Gardens, spotting the Brokenback Mountain Range and more. Book your own Hunter Valley helicopter flight here.
Thanks to Klook for partially gifting me this incredible experience!
See a different side of the region by horse riding
Prefer to keep your feet closer to the ground? Consider spending a few hours enjoying the Hunter Valley on horseback!
Exploring native bushland, picturesque vineyards and ample farmland allows you to see a different side to the Hunter that is often overlooked by visitors. The relaxed pace of the experience is perfect for beginners, too!
Explore different worlds within the Hunter Valley Gardens
If you’re a fan of beautifully manicured landscapes, the Hunter Valley Gardens is absolutely perfect when you don’t drink wine. One moment you could amongst the bamboo groves in China only to be exploring an Italian grotto the next! The gardens were founded by Bill Roche of the nearby Roche Estate in 2003.
NOTE: It’s not widely publicised that the Hunter Valley Gardens are not free to enter. Due to current regulations, it’s essentials to pre-purchase your tickets. Buy your Hunter Valley Gardens tickets in advance here!
It’s also one of the best things to do in the Hunter Valley for families with its life-size characters from childrens’ tales in the Storybook Gardens. Have tea with Alice in Wonderland, roll down the hills with Jack and Jill, prevent Humpty Dumpty from having a great fall and so much more.
TIP: Don’t miss the exquisite rose garden, the fragrance in the air here is incredible. And a little tip from me, keep your eyes out for a special rose commissioned by Bill for his wife Imelda. These roses are unique and exclusive to the Hunter Valley Gardens!
Aqua Golf & Putt Putt
While you’re nearby the Hunter Valley Gardens, why not try your hand at Aqua Golf? This as well as Putt Putt is located within the Hunter Valley Gardens. If you hit a golf ball into the Aqua Golf floating target net, you win a prize! It’s great for golfers of all ages and costs $12 for an Aqua Golf & 18 holes of Putt Putt combo ticket.
TIP: From November – January, the Hunter Valley Gardens showcase stunning night illuminations for the Christmas Lights Spectacular. This event is a very popular activity for families! Buy tickets in advance here.
Try your hand at a local cooking class
One of my favourite intangible souvenirs from any trip is a cooking class because it’s a great way to learn more about the local food and culture. In the Hunter Valley, foodies will enjoy sampling local organic produce and learn how to cook in traditional ways from an experienced chef. The best part is eating your creations at the class’ conclusion!
- Hope to gain culinary skills from an executive chef during a lunch or dinner session? Book a private cooking class here.
- Want to learn how to create pizza from scratch with fresh organic tomatoes? Book a pizza making class for all ages here.
- Have a sweet tooth? Join the fun of creating sweet treats from scratch! Book a candy making class here.
Get up close and personal with grapes
There are ways you can still experience what makes Wine Country, “Wine Country” without having to drink it! These immersive activities can help you learn more about traditional wine making and have a tonne of fun whilst you’re at it. Winners receive a prize!
Have you ever thought about the history of wine making? Also known as grape treading, grape stomping was used by ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans. It was (and some traditionalists still believe) stomping is a crucial part of the wine making process.
Learn how all those mushed skins, stems and seeds don’t end up on your glass and get barefoot in a vat by booking your grape stomping experience here.
Wine barrel rolling race
Bring out your competitive side by having a go at rolling wine barrels. I challenge you to try and keep it straight! But what does this have to do with tradition here in Hunter Valley Wine Country?
In the wine making region of Tuscany, Italy, wine barrel rolling has ties to the 14th century where citizens would competitively horse race on a dangerous trail. In the 17th century this was stopped due to safety concerns, however in 1974 a local priest suggested reviving the race by swapping horses for wine barrels. This tradition is also celebrated in the wine region of Bordeaux, France.
Rolling barrels of local wine is a great activity for small groups with plenty of laughs to be had along the way. Book your wine barrel rolling experience here.
Explore further on a Segway around the area
Have you always wanted to try a Segway, but like me don’t fancy the idea of using them in old European cities with cobblestone paths and crowds? Riding one is a fun idea for things to do in the Hunter Valley for non drinkers!
Get off road and venture back in time (in a modern way) on a Segway tour through late 19th century trails overlooking Brokenback Mountain. This lesser-visited area provides the chance to see native animals such as wombats and kangaroos. Book your Segway experience here.
Take in the scenic countryside by bike
Cycling around the vineyards in the fresh air is a wonderful way to enjoy the Hunter Valley. Better yet, you can hire electric bikes to take the effort out of it! The pedal option is there if you feel like it, too.
Explore at your own pace, stop off anywhere you like along the way. Bike hire includes a local map and a quick run-down of the bike’s features. Hire for all or half a day here!
Enjoy a spot of shopping
Help support these small businesses and pick up a few things in Pokolbin!
Hunter Valley Shopping Village
Beside the entrance to the Hunter Valley Gardens is a covered outdoor shopping mall. Hunter Valley Shopping Village includes bespoke stores with everything from diamonds to clothing, antiques to lollies, famed Alpaca wool items and even crystals.
The area’s famous Hunter Valley Chocolate Company is here, too! This leafy village has something to suit every taste and budget.
Hunter Valley Markets
Held on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month, Handmade in the Hunter Markets can be found within the grounds of Sobels Wines. The stalls showcase unique, handcrafted arts and crafts by talented locals.
Admire the amazing creations made from wood and glass, enjoy the scents of handmade candles and soaps while also savouring locally-grown produce. Try on some jewellery, get cosy with knitted items, browse fabrics and home decor. There is a lot here!
Indulge in local cheese tasting
While many wineries offer wine and cheese tasting packages, if you’d rather skip the wine and dig exclusively into the cheese there is plenty of opportunity in the Hunter Valley!
Head to the Hunter Valley Cheese Factory in Pokolbin for local cow’s and goat’s cheese selections. This operating factory offers a mouth-watering menu of cheeses matched with crackers, or add local olives and conserves to your experience. Foodies will enjoy the option to participate in cheese making tutorials, too.
Two Fat Blokes is another popular name in the area, their Euro Deli Cafe specialises in over 100 local and international cheeses available to sample at your own pace. Get hold of a Picnic Pack filled with everything you need for a delicious snack including popular cheeses, crackers, antipasto, cold meats, baguettes and disposable cutlery.
Have a ball go karting around the region’s largest track
Fulfil your need for speed around 850 metres of track in a European kart at Hunter Valley Go Karts Go! This is another one of the many fun things to do at the Hunter Valley for families as junior karts are on hand for children from 5 years old, or go tandem in a twin cart!
Prices start from $30 for 13 minutes. Mini golf and archery is also on site here in Kearsley.
Go kangaroo spotting
Hoping to catch a glimpse of these furry friends? The best time to see kangaroos in the Hunter valley is at dawn and dusk. I was so fortunate to spot them hopping through the vineyards! Please remember they are wild and will get easily spooked if you approach them. Admire our Australian icons from afar!
BONUS: Where to stay in the Hunter Valley
For a completely unique experience in the Hunter Valley, why not stay in a TinyAway house? These adorable portable and eco-friendly mini houses are the very definition of “glamping”!
Each comes fully equipped with bedding, kitchen, decor and more to help you get away from crowds and closer to nature in secluded locations around Pokolbin and Broke. Read more and book here!
Concluding the best things to do in the Hunter Valley if you don’t drink
I hope this comprehensive guide has convinced you there are still plenty of things to do in the Hunter Valley if you don’t drink! Seeing the region from above, sampling local specialties, exploring beyond the crowds all entailing fun will make for an unforgettable trip.
Which of these experiences will you add to your Hunter Valley itinerary? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to take a look at my detailed guide to cheap wine tasting in the Hunter Valley from $5 and extensive list of more things to do in the Hunter Valley if you change your mind about drinking, hehe.
Sending a huge thanks to Klook for making this article and these experiences possible!
Do you need more ideas for getaways on Australia’s east coast? Take a look at all my articles for Australia and greater Oceania while you’re here, read my Amazon #1 New Release book, or come and join me on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and TikTok for more travel inspiration!
Until next time,
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Images watermarked without The Invisible Tourist logo remain the copyright of Klook and are used with permission. This guide to things to do in the Hunter Valley for non drinkers contains some affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. I may earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase and if you do, thanks for your support! This helps with the costs of running my blog so I can keep my content free for you. As always, I only recommend a product or service that I genuinely love and use myself!