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The Top Day Trips from Newcastle

Newcastle's not only Australia’s coolest city by the sea, but a fabulous base for day tripping.

Once you have exhausted all that Newcastle has to offer, there is a realm of possibility awaiting nearby. The surrounding NSW area provides a range of day trip experiences, adventures, and things to do, whether you are flying solo, on a romantic weekend away or enjoying school holidays with the kids. 

Hot air balloons flying over Pokolbin in the Hunter Valley.Image credited to Cessnock City Council

From wine tasting, whale watching and coastal walking to hot air ballooning, wildlife spotting and cave exploring — these day trips from Newcastle will give you a little dose of adventure without having far to go.

Hunter Valley Winery Tours

A short bus, train, or car ride away from Newcastle is the Hunter Valley, known for its world-class wines and an extraordinary number of cellar doors — the most out of all Australia’s wine regions. 

With over 500 wineries to choose from, you may be spoilt for choice on your day trip from Newcastle. A few local favourites would have to include Brokenwood, a 5-star winery known for its Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz and ILR Semillon; Audrey Wilkinson with a colonial-style cellar door nestled in the foothills of the Brokenback Mountain Ranges; and Gartelmann Wines, a boutique winery known for their selection of award-winning wines.  

The sun setting over the Brokenback Mountain Range in the Hunter Valley.Image credited to Cessnock City Council

If you would like your day planned from start to finish, there are several Hunter Valley tours from Newcastle. Package tours offer Hunter Valley Newcastle pick up and drop off, tastings at several of the best Hunter Valley wineries, as well as a pitstop for lunch. 

But the Hunter Valley is not only reserved for wine tasting. There is a wide range of activities to satisfy foodies, culture lovers and adrenaline junkies alike. Take a breathtaking hot air balloon ride as the sun rises over the wines of the majestic valley, feel the grapes between your toes with grape stomping at Hermitage Road Cellars, or hop on a Segway to explore the 1880s Stock Route that intersects Vanessa Vale Vineyard.

For something different, why not set in for the afternoon with a gourmet vineyard picnic at Calais Estate, high tea at Voco Kirkton Park Hunter Valley or head over to the Hunter Valley Zoo with the kids.

Lake Macquarie

Located around 30 minutes south of Newcastle is Lake Macquarie — the Southern Hemisphere’s largest saltwater lake. This coastal city is surrounded by nature reserves, untouched mountains, pristine beaches and is an adventurer’s paradise, perfect for day trips from Newcastle and friend or family getaways. 

If you are wondering what to do in Lake Macquarie, you won’t be short on options. Visitors can hire kayaks, SUPs, and paddleboats, go whale watching between June and November or enjoy an aerial adventure with scenic helicopter flights, airborne flight training or skydiving.

Lake Macquarie is also a treasure trove of untouched beaches and sun-kissed swimming spots. Grab some waves at Catherine Hill Bay, explore the sea caves of Caves Beach with the kids or enjoy a little privacy at Pinny Beach, a small beach accessed along the Caves Beach coastal walk.  

Port Stephens

Just a short day trip north of Newcastle, is picturesque Port Stephens, home to spectacular sand dunes, Tomaree National Park, and beach lined Great Lake Marine Park. This NSW favourite is the ideal day trip from Newcastle, with a plethora of things to do from the sand to the sea. 

Scenic coastal views across One Mile Beach, Port Stephens.Image credited to Jarryd Salem

The Stockton sand dunes are the star attraction of Port Stephens, with options to go sandboarding, four-wheel driving, quad biking, or camel riding across the dunes. With 26 beautiful beaches to choose from, Port Stephens is a haven for sun worshippers. Explore popular Nelson Bay or Shoal Bay and enjoy a day of swimming, surfing, snorkelling, scuba diving, or dolphin watching.

Other Day Trips from Newcastle

Whether taking a Newcastle day trip or looking for a fun pit stop on the way back to Sydney from Newcastle, there are plenty of spots along the way. 

Blackbutt Nature Reserve and its 182 hectares of natural bushland is less than a 20 minute day trip from Newcastle. The expansive reserve is filled with scenic nature trails to explore, with wildlife exhibits and playgrounds to keep the kids entertained.

Visitor enjoying an encounter with a local lorikeet at the the bird brunch feeding time in Blackbutt Reserve, Newcastle.Image credited to Eluminate Media

Kid-friendly Wyong Milk Factory is an excellent spot to break your journey with a family tavern, outdoor playground and delicious cheese and chocolate treats. And a little further down the Pacific Highway is the Australian Reptile Park in Somersby — home to Hugo the Galapagos tortoise, Elvis the crocodile, alligators, pythons, tarantulas, and Tasmanian devils. Kids can spend the afternoon exploring the park or go behind the scenes with a private tour or a zookeeper program. 

Top image credit: Destination NSW