From surfing sand dunes to hiking up coastal headlands, Port Stephens, in New South Wales, has adventure in spades. Here are our five favourite activities for adrenaline junkies:
1. Conquer the dunes
Port Stephens has long been a holiday hotspot, thanks to its stunning beaches, but you don’t have to wait until summer to enjoy them. You can tackle the Worimi sand dunes, rising up to 50 metres, on the back of a quad bike. You’ll feel like you’re in a desert as you travel from bush to beach, conquering the largest continuous mobile coastal sand mass in the Southern Hemisphere.
2. Go sand “surfing”
If you love surfing and snowboarding, then you’ll be in your element on a sand-boarding safari at Stockton Beach. Carve down sandy slopes more than 40 metres in length on this popular day tour. Once you’ve had your adrenaline fix, you can shake out of your shorts while touring Tin City – a settlement of fishermen’s huts that sprang up in the 1800s and featured in the film Mad Max.
3. Say hello to a humpback
Experience the majesty of a breaching humpback or southern right whale aboard a whale-watching cruise out of Nelson Bay. There’s nothing quite like staring into the eyes of these giants of the ocean as they show off in front of gob-smacked tourists. While you’re out at sea, be sure to also keep your eyes peeled for wild dolphins and fur seals – and don’t forget to take your camera. The whale-watching season is between May and October.
4. Tackle Mount Tomaree
It may only be 2.2km (return), but the Tomaree Summit Walk is a holiday workout to remember. You can join a guided tour or go it alone, taking in the stunning views across Port Stephens and Insta-worthy Zenith Beach below. Take a well-deserved breather at the summit, 161 metres high, while scanning the ocean for migrating whales. While you’re there, you may as well also do the Fort Tomaree walk, which runs below the summit trail, to check out the WWII gun emplacements.
5. Cycle through forest
Challenge your fitness level by hitting up some of Port Stephens’ little-known mountain bike trails. You can join a guided tour along the region’s coastal pathways or head south to Glenrock State Conservation Area (near Newcastle), where there are 14km of purpose-built tracks. You don’t have to be an experienced rider, either, with routes to suit beginners and intermediates, as well as the advanced.