12 of the most exhilarating adrenaline activities in NSW

Adrenaline junkies, rejoice! NSW offers a plethora of adventure activities for those who want to get their heart racing, whether that’s on epic dive excursions, surfing wild breaks, skydiving, rock climbing, mountain biking, ziplining or skiing.

Destination NSW

Destination NSW

May 2024 -
min read


Jump out of a plane at 14,000 feet and free-fall at more than 200km/h, before gently floating to the ground as the parachute opens. Exhilarating skydives are on offer all over the state, including in Newcastle, Wollongong, GoulburnCoffs HarbourByron Bay and Moruya.

Depending on the destination you choose, you can drop out of a plane over dramatic coastal curves, neat rows of grape vines or rolling country hills. Is this the ultimate way to get some perspective? We think so.  

Tandem skydiving with Skydive Australia, Wollongong

Skydive Australia, Wollongong

Hang gliding 

Hang gliding offers a similar perspective to skydiving, just minus the head-rushing speed. Soar through the skies over Byron Bay and Lennox Head on tandem flights with Byron Airwaves Hang Gliding School. Keep a lookout for the dolphins and sea life in the marine park along the coastline; migrating whales can be seen while you soar in the winter and spring months of the year. In Newcastle, you can drift over Bar Beach, taking in the spectacular coastline, with Air Sports Newcastle.

Experience the thrill of tandem hang gliding from world-famous Bald Hill in Stanwell Park and Hill 60 in Wollongong on the South Coast with HangglideOz. The site is about 150m above the sea level, providing spectacular views of the ocean and the escarpment. 

Read more: Eight awesome sky-high experiences in NSW

Hang Gliding with views over Bar Beach, Newcastle

Bar Beach, Newcastle


The NSW coastline is long and varied, offering a multitude of different waterways to explore from great depths. For a close encounter with grey nurse sharks, head to South West Rocks on the North Coast. Here you can dive Fish Rock Cave, considered to be one of the best cave dives in Australia, where you’re likely to see the endangered sharks, with South West Rocks Dive Centre.

Jervis Bay is famous for having ‘the whitest sand in the world’, but it’s the underwater world in the Jervis Bay Marine Park that makes it one of the most popular diving destinations on the NSW coast. The marine reserve spans 100km of coastline, with more than 50 dive sites to choose from, each one teeming with life. Explore with Dive Jervis Bay.

Scuba diver exploring a dive site in Jervis Bay

Scuba Diving, Jervis Bay - Credit: Jordan Robins

Another great dive is Montague Island, home to colonies of fur seals and little penguins, the smallest penguins in the world. The island is 8km off Narooma, part of the gorgeous Eurobodalla region on the South Coast. Book a tour with Montague Island Tours or Underwater Safaris

Other popular dive destinations include the wreck of the ex-HMAS Adelaide, just six minutes’ boat ride from Terrigal Beach on the NSW Central Coast; the Solitary Islands on the NSW Mid-North Coast between Coffs Harbour and Grafton; and Julian Rocks, a pair of small rocky outcrops located 2.5km off the main beach at Byron Bay on the North Coast of NSW. 

Read more: The best diving spots in NSW

HMAS Adelaide in Toowoon Bay, Wyong Area, Central Coast

HMAS Adelaide, Toowoon Bay - Image Credit: Nays Baghai


Want a bird’s-eye perspective of NSW, while soaring through the canopy of lush rainforest and bushland? NSW is home to Australia’s highest zipline, the Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures, near Jamberoo just south of Sydney. You’ll also find the Jamberoo Action Park, where you can rush and whirl down giant multi-storey water rides such as the Funnel Web. 

For one of the longest rollercoaster-style ziplines in the world, head to the TreeTops Crazy Rider in the Ourimbah State Forest, on the Central Coast. For child-friendly flying foxes, rope bridges and obstacle courses, check out TreeTop Adventure Park in Newcastle

Skiing & snowboarding 

NSW’s Snowy Mountains high country delivers peaks and runs that avid skiers and boarders can’t get enough of. The largest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere, Perisher has something for everyone. Spread across four areas – Perisher Valley, Blue Cow, Smiggin Holes and Guthega – it has 47 lifts, plenty of runs, five terrain parks and over 100km of cross-country trails. 

Father and son skiing together in Perisher

Perisher, Kosciuszko National Park

In Thredbo you can ski Australia’s longest runs, ring the bell at the country’s highest lifted point or ride on the Merritts Gondola, the only one of its kind. The pretty Alpine village at the base of the mountain is full of restaurants, cafes, bars and shops. Meanwhile, Australia’s highest ski field, Charlotte Pass is a boutique resort that’s perfect for families. It’s snowbound in winter and the only way to get there is on an over-snow trip from Perisher. You can also make a snowshoe climb to the top of Mount Kosciuszko. 

Read more: A guide to skiing & snowboarding in NSW

Thredbo with Disabled Wintersports offers experiences for individuals of all ages, Snowy Mountains

Thredbo, Snowy Mountains

White-water rafting 

Covering more than 195 kilometres of river between Nymboi-Binderay National Park and the township of Copmanhurst, the Clarence Canoe and Kayak Trail is Australia’s longest mapped whitewater trail. Combining three wild river systems – the Nymbodia, Mann and Clarence – there is something to please all paddling palates across the eight map sections, whether you’re into bone-rattling rapids or zen-like cruising. The trail can be completed in day sections or as one long adventure with primitive camping grounds along the route.  

The Murray River is also popular for rafting. It cuts a technical, winding path through the alpine rainforests of the Snowy Mountains, creating exciting Class IV rapids as it makes its way through a landscape of incredible beauty. And 30km southwest of Inverell, the Gwydir River is a powerful, high-volume Class V run that flows through rugged hillsides lined with tall eucalyptus trees and granite cliffs. If you want to practice your skills not far from Sydney, Penrith is home to a Whitewater Stadium.  

Read more: Incredible on-the-water activities in NSW

Group enjoying a day of white water rafting at Penrith White Water Stadium, Penrith

Penrith White Water Stadium, Penrith - Credit: Matthew Newtown

Mountain biking & cycling 

NSW has an incredible selection of mountain biking and cycling routes and trails ranging from easy terrain for children to challenging tracks. Wonderful routes and trails in national parks include Burramoko Ridge trail in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Blue MountainsTommos loop and the Warrah Trig loop, on the Central CoastPlateau Circuit loop, near Coffs Harbour on the North CoastFive Mile trail in the Murray Valley National Park, near Echuca Moama; and The Cannonball Downhill Trail in the Snowy Mountains.  

Mountain bike self guided hire service and fully guided e-bike tours with Blue Mountains Biking Adventures, Katoomba

Blue Mountains Biking Adventures, Katoomba - Credit: Luke Dubbelde

If you don’t want to go off-piste, there are plenty of paved cycling routes to follow as well. For a spectacular journey through Australia’s oldest national park, pedal on the Grand Pacific Drive from Sydney to Wollongong, via the Royal National Park and the Sea Cliff Bridge. On the beautiful NSW coast, you can enjoy the Broulee, Broulee, North Head to Mossy Point Cycleway, a flat route that passes the sand dunes of Bengello Beach, a renowned surf beach. Or inland try the Tracker Riley Cycleway in Dubbo

For dramatic mountain backdrops, explore the Snowy Mountains on two wheels. The quiet roads in the high country are great for cycling, with the Khancoban to Kiandra Drive weaving through Kosciuszko National Park.  Or take on the Tumbarumba to Rosewood Rail Trail, a vibrant, revitalised trail for walking, cycling, pushing, strolling, peddling, rolling and relaxing.

Read more: Unmissable cycling experiences around NSW

Rock climbing 

You don’t have to travel far from Sydney to find yourself scrambling up sheer escarpments and rockfaces. The World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains delivers an incredible diversity of rock formations, with world-class locations for beginners right through to experts. Get climbing with Blue Mountains Climbing School and High and Wild Australian Adventures.

Point Perpendicular in Jervis Bay on the South Coast has short, adventurous sea-cliff climbing routes just a couple hours from Sydney. The vast ocean stretches out below you, whales are breaching and you’re making your way up a 20m blue streaked sandstone wall. Experienced rock climbers will love the crags near the Shoalhaven River in Nowra, also on the South Coast. Climbs here are challenging and one of the highlights is Thompson's Point. Join the experts at Outdoor Raw.

Man enjoying a rock climbing experience with Outdoor Raw in the Shoalhaven region of NSW

Outdoor Raw, Nowra

Going up to northern and central NSW, there’s some great granite climbing around Armidale in the Northern Tablelands. Here, a high plateau features distinctive (and challenging) granite boulders, along with dazzling gorge climbs. 

Beowa National Park at the southern end of the NSW coast offers high-octane climbing routes over sandstone cliffs. A number of bouldering options are available, located on rocky headlands along the coast.  

Read more: An expert's guide to rock climbing in NSW

Rock Climbing the cliff face at Point Perpendicular

Rock Climbing at Point Perpendicular - Credit: Suika Media


Just as it’s popular among rock climbers, the Blue Mountains is also a hit when it comes to abseiling. Go on an abseiling and canyoning day tour with Blue Mountains Adventure Company, which includes stunning waterfalls, caves and rock jumps. Enjoy an exhilarating day of abseiling with Walking Rivers Pty Ltd on beautiful sandstone cliffs in Watagans National Park, just an hour from Newcastle. Team up with the qualified guides of Out and About Adventures, which also offers kayaking expeditions.  

In the Glenworth Valley north of Sydney, you can join Glenworth Valley Wilderness Adventures on a series of easily achievable, progressive abseiling adventures, enabling you to develop confidence and technique as you advance. 

Bungonia National Park, near Goulburn, is another stunning wilderness for experienced adventurers, with rock climbing, abseiling, canyoning and caving. Known as the adventure capital of the Southern Highlands, it is home to one of the deepest canyons in Australia – the Bungonia Slot Canyon. Check it out with Out and About Adventures.

Read more: Touch the sky on these thrilling abseiling tours in NSW


The NSW coastline is home to some of the world's best surf beaches. Stretching over more than 2,000km, you’ll find perfect beginner breaks, great long-boarding spots and epic swell loved by the professionals. 

Head for the NSW North Coast’s legendary point breaks and some of the longest rides in Australia. You’ll find iconic North Coast point breaks in National Surfing Reserves at Merewether Beach in Newcastle; Crescent Head, between Goolawah and Hat Head national parks; Angourie Beach, near Yamba; Lennox Head, between Ballina and Byron Bay.  

Surfers at Main Beach at Soul Surf School, Byron Bay

Soul Surf School, Byron Bay

Many more excellent surf beaches are dotted along the beautiful stretch of coast, including in magnificent protected wilderness such as Iluka Nature Reserve. In some national parks you can combine surfing and camping, such as the stunning Diamond Head, between Forster and Port Macquarie. For colonial heritage and curling waves, Trial Bay Gaol is in Arakoon National Park, near the South West Rocks. You can pitch a tent at Black Rocks between Iluka and Evans Head

If you’re heading south, make a beeline for Killalea in Shellharbour, one of just 21 National Surfing Reserves around Australia, recognised for its iconic status in the national surfing culture. Two breaks here, The Farm and Mystics, are world-famous and not to be missed. In Kiama, try out The Wedge break on the main Surf Beach in the centre of town or head south for the long rolling waves of Seven Mile Beach at Gerroa, one of the best places in the State to learn to surf. 

Beginners should head for Mollymook and Narrawallee beaches, where you can try out gentle rolling waves or take a lesson from former world champ Pam Burridge. Advanced surfers will love Dolphin Point and the Guillotines

Read more: The ultimate guide to learning to surf in NSW

Quad biking 

Get ready for an adrenaline-pumping adventure on the largest moving coastal sand dunes in Australia. Stockton Beach in the Port Stephens region of the state offers epic rolling dunes. Explore them on quad bikes with Sand Dune Adventures, taking in glorious views of the sweeping coastline with experienced Aboriginal guides – you’ll also receive hands-on introductions to authentic Aboriginal culture and history, visit ancient campsites and learn about local bush foods, medicines and the secrets of finding fresh water. The company also offers the chance to board down the dunes, if quad-biking is not your thing. Quad Bike King also operates in the area.  

Nestled in a Central Coast, Glenworth Valley borders thousands of hectares of national parkland. There’s endless fun to be had at Glenworth Valley Wilderness Adventures – quad biking is among the many diversions, giving you the chance to ride through bushland and rainforest along mountain trails. When you jump off your bike, there’s also horse riding, kayaking, laser skirmish and abseiling. 

Hot-air ballooning 

What a truly incredible way to begin the day: huddling in a basket beneath the huge expanse of a hot-air balloon, rising high into the sky as the sun breaks the horizon and lights the scene below. In the Mudgee region in the state’s central west, that scene includes some of Australia’s prettiest landscape – rolling hills, vine-covered valleys and forested mountains. And it’s at its most spectacular up high at sunrise, which is exactly what you’ll see on Balloon Aloft’s four-hour breakfast flight. It's an equally dreamy outlook to the east in the Hunter Valley, Australia's oldest wine region. Here, get some perspective with Beyond Ballooning at sunrise, then touch down for a champagne breakfast.  

Hot air balloons flying over the Hunter Valley at sunrise, Hunter Valley

Countryside, Hunter Valley

In the Riverina region, Goldrush Ballooning offers magical flights around Temora. Enjoy a spectacular one-hour sunrise balloon flight followed by celebrations on the ground. This flight is particularly spectacular when the region’s canola fields are in bloom (August to October), casting a golden glow over the countryside.  

Canowindra, near Orange, is considered the hot-air balloon capital of Australia – more balloons take off here than anywhere else in the country, and the town hosts an annual balloon festival. You can take to the sky at any time of the year with Balloon Joy Flights, however, and enjoy gliding over the vine-laced countryside.  

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