The most action-packed outdoor adventures in NSW

From epic hikes to paddling rapids, NSW offers plenty of opportunities to go wild in nature. Embrace your wild side with these adventures in the great outdoors.

Destination NSW

Destination NSW

Dec 2023 -
min read

Tackle one of NSW’s great walks 

A multi-day hike is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the wild and reach a faraway paradise only accessible by foot. One such journey is the Tomaree Coastal Walk, a 27km self-guided trek from Port Stephens that can be done over two or three days, with overnight stays at campsites or cabins. This diverse walk takes you through national park forest, across secluded beaches and mountain peaks, and finishes at the Worimi Conservation Lands, the largest moving sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere. 

Tomaree Coastal Walk - Credit: Daniel Parsons | DPE

Tomaree Coastal Walk - Credit: Daniel Parsons | DPE

The Seven Peaks Walk around World Heritage-listed Lord Howe Island combines luxury and adventure. One of the Great Walks of Australia, this five-day guided hike has you traversing a steep cliffside track, an extinct volcano peak and a fish-feeding expedition, returning to a comfortable bed to sleep in at Pinetrees Lodge each evening. 

Mount Gower, Lord Howe Island

Mount Gower, part of the Seven Peaks Walk on Lord Howe Island

If time is short but you still feel like a challenge, NSW has plenty of day hikes that still pack in the action. The Blue Mountains has hundreds of hikes to tackle on your own, but if you’d like to join a group, the Grand Cliff Top Walk is a 14km day trip led by the Blue Mountains Adventure Company through Leura to Wentworth Falls passing sky-high views of the Jamison Valley. 

Alternatively, head for the Red Cedar Falls walking track on the Mid-North Coast. This steep grade 5 trek takes three or so hours return and rewards you with a dramatic view of Dorrigo National Park’s biggest waterfall, as well as opportunities to cool down in swimming holes along the way.  

At the pool of Siloam along the Grand Cliff Top Walk, Blue Mountains - Credit: Jannice Banks

At the pool of Siloam along the Grand Cliff Top Walk, Blue Mountains - Credit: Jannice Banks

Go canyoning, rock-climbing or abseiling 

While during winter the Snowy Mountains are cloaked in powdery snow, in spring and summer the region is prime for outdoor activities, especially a rock-climbing adventure to its stunning peaks – some of the highest in Australia. K7 Adventures offers guided climbs at Thredbo, Lake Jindabyne and Charlotte Pass – exciting day trips for all skill levels and ages. 

Climbing Jindy Rock near Lake Jindabyne with K7 Adventures - Snowy Mountains Credit: K7 Adventures

Climbing Jindy Rock near Lake Jindabyne with K7 Adventures, Snowy Mountains - Credit: K7 Adventures

Like its name suggests, the Blue Mountains is filled with cliffs to scale and is a rock-climbing heaven. On a full-day trip with High and Wild Australian Adventures you’ll learn the ropes – literally – as you tackle different grades of climbs with an expert guide: from canyoning down waterfalls to abseiling 60m drops. 

On the South Coast, you can take on a rock-climbing adventure in Shoalhaven with Outdoor Raw where you can even have a “cliffnic” on the side of a picturesque rockface. Or, on the North Coast, tackle climbing locations in stunning Watagans National Park near the Hunter Valley, or the Nelson Bay region with Out and About Adventures

Proposal Fine Dining Picnic Adventure Rock climb Abseil Package at Outdoor Raw in Nowra, South coast

A 'cliffnic' with Outdoor Raw, Nowra - Credit: Daryl Jones | Outdoor Raw

To the west, Warrumbungle National Park (located about a two-hour drive north of Dubbo) offers challenges for the serious climber, including along the landmark 14.5km loop and the Breadknife and Grand High Tops Walk. Rock-climbing is permitted everywhere (Belougery Spire, Crater Bluff and Bluff Mountain are challenging options) except the Breadknife and Chalkers Mountain, you’ll just need to register with the visitor centre before you set out. The New England High Country around Armidale and Glen Innes is one of the state’s lesser-known locales for bouldering and sport climbing. 

Paddle fast rapids on a kayak or canoe 

NSW is home to Australia’s longest white-water trail, the Clarence Valley Canoe and Kayak Trail, which combines thrills and spills with grades 1-4 rapids with moments of serenity in spectacular wilderness. Covering a whopping 195km between Nymboi-Binderay National Park and the township of Copmanhurst, in northern NSW, it’s divided into eight sections, takes in three river systems and has 12 campsites. You can hire equipment and/or a river guide through local experts such as Nymboida Camping and Canoeing

Clarence Valley gorge - North Coast

Clarence Valley Canoe and Kayak Trail - Credit: My Clarence Valley | Clarence Valley Council

The Riverina region also offers adrenaline-pumping paddles. From Wagga Wagga, join In Motion Fitness for an adventurous 10-hour journey paddling the rapids along the Tumut River. There are plenty of chances to spot kangaroos, koalas or even a platypus. 

While river rapids will raise the heartbeat, paddling through waves in the open ocean offers just as many thrills. On the South Coast, Sea Kayaks Jervis Bay offers guided trips from Huskisson around the protected marine park. They also have beginner lessons for those just getting started. Or go beyond the breakers in Byron Bay with Cape Byron Kayaks where your day out on the water may get you up close to a pod of dolphins, a turtle or a humpback whale. 

Credit: Cape Byron Kayaks

Kayak tour with Cape Byron Kayaks, Cape Byron State Conservation Area - Credit: Cape Byron Kayaks

Visit underwater worlds on a dive or snorkel 

With more than 2,000km of coastline, NSW has hundreds of beaches prime for coastal activities, and an underwater dive or snorkel is the perfect way to explore what lies beneath. Swim with whales, seals or dolphins on a five-to-six-hour freediving expedition with Woebegone Freedive, based in Huskisson. 

Woebegone Freedive - Credit: Jordan Robins Photography

Woebegone Freedive - Credit: Jordan Robins Photography

North in Coffs Harbour is where Jetty Dive can take you on a scuba dive through the protected marine park of the Solitary Islands. The half-day dive tours will cruise you out on comfortable boats, and you’ll get the chance to see a rainbow of coral and some of the most vibrant tropical sea creatures – from neon nudibranchs to purple cuttlefish and green sea turtles. 

If you don’t have a diving license, you can still power things up a notch in Sydney with an Underwater Scooter Tour. You’ll head to the Gordons Bay Marine Reserve and jump on one of the zippy little propellors to easily explore this underwater enclave alongside friendly Port Jackson sharks, octopus and a famous big blue groper.  

Jetty Dive Centre, Coffs Harbour - Credit: Mike Davey | Jetty Dive Centre

Jetty Dive Centre, Coffs Harbour - Credit: Mike Davey | Jetty Dive Centre

Fly through forests on a zipline 

Channel your inner Tarzan and fly through rainforest canopies at some of NSW’s most exciting zipline parks. Treetop Adventure Parks has eight locations throughout the state, including Western Sydney and Central Coast, which feature the Crazy Rider, a combination of rollercoaster and flying fox. Loops, twists, turns and heart-in-mouth freefall drops are all part of the exhilarating fun as you are whisked through the canopy.  

Treetop Crazy Rider at Treetop Adventure Park in Tuggerah, Central Coast

Treetop Crazy Rider at Treetop Adventure Park in Tuggerah, Central Coast

Alternatively, if you’d like a view of camels while whizzing through the trees, Treetops Adventure Nowra features more than 90 challenges, 15 zip lines and a cliff-edge obstacle course, all inside Shoalhaven Zoo

Near Wollongong, Illawarra Fly offers a Zipline Tour through the rainforest, including three flights, two suspension bridges and four cloud stations on which to perch and build up courage for the next challenge. 

Weave through the trees on a mountain bike 

If you’d rather fly through the forests on land, the state is threaded with mountain bike trails to get your heart pumping. Gravity Eden is a new trail on NSW’s Sapphire Coast and features more than 58km of mountain bike trails spanning a remarkable 300-metre elevation. 

Gravity Eden Mountain Bike Park - Credit: Flow Mountain Bike

Gravity Eden Mountain Bike Park - Credit: Flow Mountain Bike 

The Blue Mountains offers a myriad of mountain bike trails to some of the most epic viewpoints.  An easier way to experience the journey is behind the handlebars of a mountain e-bike with Blue Mountains Biking Adventures. You can either hire an e-bike (or bring your own) and go it alone on a self-guided ride, or join a guided tour on beginner friendly trails, like the sky-high trail to Hanging Rock, or more advanced rides, like the sharp hills of Narrow Neck Peninsula. 

Blue Mountains Biking Adventures

The Narrowneck Trail with Blue Mountains Biking Adventures - Credit: Blue Mountains Biking Adventures

In Sydney, the self-guided Hornsby Mountain Bike Trail combines narrow bushland trails and undulating one-metre-wide trails through lush greenery. There are some tricky sections as well as a beginner-friendly ‘green loop’ for young kids or those just starting out. 

And on the North Coast, Glenrock Mountain Biking Trails in Newcastle is one of the state’s best. With 14km of purpose-built bike trails and 20km of linked management trails, you’ll want to spend at least a day cruising these tracks through open forest and woodlands that lead to Burwood Beach, Leichhardt’s lookout and waterfalls. 

Glenrock mountain biking trails in the Glenrock State Conservation Area

Glenrock mountain biking trail in the Glenrock State Conservation Area

More adventures await in NSW


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