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Start planning a long weekend in Sydney and New South Wales

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There’s someone you really should meet: a gorgeous bronzed Australian who’ll welcome you with a smile, offer you delicious food and a cold bevvy or two. She’ll also share her world-class culture, stunning landscapes and show you a good time in the big city.

Her name is New South Wales and she encompasses Australia’s largest city, charming beach towns, hillsides draped with grape vines, the freshest of seafood and an abundance of wildlife.

Although Australian borders currently remain closed to international travellers, here are some ideas so you can start planning a long weekend in Sydney and New South Wales.

Shoppers in Queen Victoria Building in Sydney's CBD.

DESTINATION NSW / SUPPLIED

Shoppers in Queen Victoria Building in Sydney’s CBD.

SYDNEY 

Start in the central hub of Sydney and hit the shops where you can browse the racks of department stores, elegant boutiques and shopping malls. The gorgeous Queen Victoria Building and the stylish restored Strand Arcade have multi-level shopping surprises.  Head to the waterfront in the evening for a cocktail at the iconic Opera Bar or try one of the delicious eateries around the Rocks.

Beaches are everywhere in Sydney, there’s over 100 in and around the city so give the Bondi to Coogee walk a go or catch a ferry  to beautiful Manly and the Northern Beaches for the day.

Family fun is abundant with the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, Australian National Maritime Museum and Luna Park Sydney all in close range of the CBD.   Taronga Zoo Sydney is located a short ferry ride from Circular Quay,  and also within easy reach are a range of wildlife parks that are well set up for kids to see Aussie animal chums in their native habitats.  

Hot air balloons flying over the Hunter Valley at sunrise.

DESTINATION NSW / SUPPLIED

Hot air balloons flying over the Hunter Valley at sunrise.

HUNTER VALLEY 

Drive north from Sydney’s CBD for three hours and you’ll reach this lush region where wine makers have been squeezing grapes for close to 180 years. No surprise that the Hunter is one of Australia’s most famous wine regions, brimming with unique cellar doors and award-winning restaurants.

No trip to the Hunter is complete without a trip to at least one cellar door, and the family-owned vineyard Tyrrell’s is one of the best. For 150 years, they’ve been producing wine mainly with oak vats, which are responsible for their robust Shiraz and Sémillon.

You’ll have to wake up early for a bird’s eye view of the Hunter region. But it’s worth it. By the time the sun begins to burn off the valley’s mist, your hot air balloon will be floating serenely above the carpet of vines. Tip: keep an eye out for kangaroos and wallabies beneath you.

One of Byron's most iconic landmarks is Cape Byron Lighthouse sitting on Australia's most easterly point, Byron Bay.

DESTINATION NSW / SUPPLIED

One of Byron’s most iconic landmarks is Cape Byron Lighthouse sitting on Australia’s most easterly point, Byron Bay.

BYRON BAY AND SURROUNDS 

Why is this former hippie enclave like catnip for visitors? If you guessed the talcum powder beaches, healthy cuisine and the laid-back vibe, you’d be right.

Start the day by walking up to Cape Byron Lighthouse, the easternmost point of mainland Australia, which makes it the first place in the country to see the sunrise. Then grab breakfast at one of the town’s many cafes that specialise in organic super-foods which will make you feel healthy simply by ordering them.

Head North towards Tweed heads and discover world-renowned surf breaks and a beautiful river which winds its way right through town. The Tweed area is developing a reputation as being a delicious destination for foodies. Check out the foodie hotspots of Fleet and Pipit which was recently awarded 2020 Good Food Guide’s Regional Restaurant of the year.

Experience a tasting and a tour at Husk Distillery, Australia’s only single estate rum distiller on the banks of the Tweed River in Tumbulgum. You can learn the process of making Husk Rum and Ink Gin from paddock to bottle or visit the cellar door for a cocktail and lunch.

Enjoy a glass of local wine and the scenic country views from Logan Wines in Mudgee.

DESTINATION NSW / SUPPLIED

Enjoy a glass of local wine and the scenic country views from Logan Wines in Mudgee.

MUDGEE’S EMERGING WINES 

Once upon a time, people flocked here in search of gold. Now they come for the emerging wine industry and chefs doing clever things with the freshest produce.

Three and a bit hours from Sydney, Mudgee has around 40 cellar doors, some of which are organic and bio-dynamic, many of which offer regional tasting platters. If you’re after a bit of sass with your tasting flight, visit Logan Wines whose stylish glass cube tasting room was made for Instagram.

Once you’ve had your fill, head out to the stunning wetland of Wollemi National Park where Dunns Swamp’s sandstone canyons and rock formations are like a mini-Kimberley. The area is important to the local indigenous population, and traditional birthing caves and art sites are accessible from walkways. Bird spotters are also in luck because the wetland is rich in native animal and bird life.

The Scenic Skyway cabin passes over the Jamison Valley, Katoomba in the Blue Mountains.

DESTINATION NSW / SUPPLIED

The Scenic Skyway cabin passes over the Jamison Valley, Katoomba in the Blue Mountains.

BLUE MOUNTAINS 

Tucked into the largest wilderness area in New South Wales, this region takes its name from the bluish haze created by the abundant eucalyptus trees.

To get your bearings, head to the Echo Point Lookout, home of the famed geological formation, the Three Sisters. Glide between the cliff tops with panoramic views of World Heritage landscapes on the Scenic Skyway, Australia’s first cable car, which suspends visitors 270m above the rain-forest canopy.

When it’s time to eat and shop, head to Leura town centre for home-made chocolates, boutiques and bookshops.

In Jervis Bay you can go whale watching or swim with seals during a snorkelling tour.

DESTINATION NSW / SUPPLIED

In Jervis Bay you can go whale watching or swim with seals during a snorkelling tour.

SOUTH COAST 

A couple of hours journey down the stunning coastline from Sydney you’ll discover Australia’s Oyster Coast which begins in the Shoalhaven area. This area is home to the White Sands Walk and dolphins of Jervis Bay.

Enjoy a perfect waterside holiday in Shoalhaven heads, home to the amazing Seven Mile beach and not far from the Shoalhaven River Estuary. Activities in this area include swimming, surfing, fishing, relaxing and picnics at the beach.

The area is a popular spot for Whale watching and in late winter there are large numbers of humpbacks feeding their young before the last stage of their journey south to Antarctica. Jervis Bay with its spectacular headlands, and the Jervis Bay Marine Park is a great place to check out these migrating whales and a home for dolphins.

Shoalhaven is also home to two fur seal colonies so be sure to take a snorkelling tour during the winter months when numbers peak and you can swim alongside them.

Visit sydney.com/nz to start planning your trip to New South Wales.

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