Want to make your weekend feel longer? Learning a new skill or doing an activity you haven’t tried before is not only a great way to challenge yourself, but research shows it can make time feel as though it is passing more slowly, so your weekend feels longer. And you never know, you might discover a new favourite hobby (or at least enjoy bragging about doing something different).

There are no shortage of things to do in NSW national parks — here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Explore the wilderness on four wheels

    4WD on a road in a NSW National Park. Photo: Erin McGauley

    Grab your travel buddies, load up the car with snacks and supplies, and enjoy the fresh breeze from the open window, as you hit the road to explore one of the many 4WD touring routes in NSW national parks with one of our trusted operating partners.

    Prefer to DIY? There’s an incredible range of terrains and environments to choose from — whether you want to take a comfortable drive through scenic rainforest like Cambridge Plateau scenic drive in Richmond Range National Park near Kyogle, or navigate your way through a sub-alpine environment among towering mountain gums, like the Barraba track in Mount Kaputar National Park near Narrabri.

  • Enjoy the best light show in the universe


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    For a new perspective, simply look up. Warrumbungle National Park, near Coonabarabran in central western NSW, is Australia’s first Dark Sky Park and an ideal spot for stargazing thanks to its high altitude and lack of light pollution. But it’s not the only way to admire the celestial beauty of the night sky in NSW national parks.

    Near Byron Bay, you can strap on a pair of military-grade night vision goggles and take a thrilling rainforest tour beneath the stars with Vision Walks Eco Tours in Nightcap National Park.

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    If you’re heading to the Katoomba area of Blue Mountains National Park, book a tour with Blue Mountains Stargazing and you’ll get a unique insight into the mysteries of the universe from an astrophysicist (if you’re lucky, you’ll see a shooting star).

    We promise, there’s nothing quite like sitting outside under the glistening light of a billion stars to make you feel as though time has stopped.

  • Challenge your survival skills

    Be the next Bear Grylls and try your hand at navigating your way through the iconic landscapes of Blue Mountains National Park, with a topographic map, and a compass (and ok, an experienced instructor, too). Blue Mountains wilderness navigation training is a two-day fully guided tour with MountainSphere Adventures and Education that will challenge you to find your campsite hidden deep within a sandstone gorge. You’ll emerge from these tours with some real-world navigation experience, a stack of confidence and some incredible memories to boot.

    Ranger tip: our national parks are natural, unpredictable environments, so don’t be caught out in the bush. Remember to Think Before You TREK, read our #NSWParks safety tips, and be prepared for all weather conditions.

  • Create your own endless summer

    Surfing, Woody Head, Bundjalung . Photo: John Spencer / DPE

    If you’ve never experienced the exhilarating feeling of riding a wave, it’s never too late to give it a try. There are plenty of beaches in NSW national parks where you can learn to surf. Endless Summer Surf School in Crowdy Bay National Park near Port Macquarie offer a range of programs for all levels, including private lessons if you’d rather get the basics down before joining a class. If you want to go all out, you can try an electric hydrofoil experience in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Think surfing with an electric motor that lets you fly above water (genius, right?).

    Ranger Tip: Most beaches in NSW national parks are unpatrolled. They can sometimes have strong rips and currents even on a calm day. Please read our beach safety guide.

    If you prefer to keep your feet on dry land, you might like to give beach fishing a go. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or just want to drop a line for fun, it’s a fairly low-cost activity that’s more about the company and conversation than the catch. Wilderness Adventures in Brunswick Heads Nature Reserve near Byron Bay offers guided expeditions, so you can discover all the best fishing spots.

    Ranger Tip: If you’re planning a day out fishing, please read our fishing safety guide. Check the tides, swell and weather conditions before setting out and never fish in exposed areas during rough or large seas or in electrical storms.

  • Work those biceps with a paddle


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    A great way to get some some fresh air and exercise while enjoying the calm beauty of nature is out on the water. If surfing is too intense for you, why not try paddling? Whether you’re in a canoe, a kayak or a stand-up paddle board, you’ll get a chance to relax and enjoy nature while getting a bit of a workout in, too.

    Kayaking in Ganguddy-Dunns Swamp, Wollemi National Park. Photo: Daniel Tran

    In Wollemi National Park, join Southern Cross Kayaking on a paddle through the deep gorges and soaring sandstone escarpments of Gunguddy Swamp, and listen as your guide shares the incredible history of this World Heritage-Listed area.

    On the Canoe Evans River canoe route in Bundjalung National Park, you can launch your canoe from the picnic area and glide past river islands, mangroves and rainforest. Listen out for the distinct crack of the eastern whip-bird, and keep an eye out for shorebirds like the white faced heron or pied oystercatcher.

    Ranger Tip: We want you to enjoy your day out safely and help your family and friends to stay safe. Please read our water safety guide and follow our tips for staying safe while paddling, fishing, swimming, or at the beach.

    Three people in kayaks on the snowy river., on a guided kayaking tour. Photo credit : Rob Mulally / DPE
    Photo Information

    Guided kayaking experience with Snowy Expeditions

    Snowy River

    Kosciuszko National Park

    Rob Mulally / DPE (2019)

    For the Sydney day trippers, there’s Lazy Paddles in Myall Lakes National Park, north of Newcastle. You can spend the day exploring the tranquil waters of one of Australia’s largest lake systems, and be tucked up in bed before the sun sets. And if you’re up for a multi-day adventure, join Snowy River Expeditions in Kosciuszko National Park to spend your days paddling, fishing and swimming in pristine alpine waters, before setting up camp by the banks of the river.

    More of a thrill-seeker at heart? Sign up for a rafting tour with Nymboida guided whitewater rafting adventure in Nymboi-Binderay National Park, near Coffs Harbour. The team will guide you through powerful rapids and tranquil pools, as you soak up the sounds of the lush rainforest. As you catch your breath between rapids, keep an eye out for koalas clinging to the tall trunks of the eucalypts lining the river.

  • Gain some serious altitude

     Mark Rossi © Cloudbase Paragliding

    Nothing will slow down time quite like the heart-pumping moment you leap from the edge of a national park and take to the skies on a tandem hang gliding or paragliding tour. As you soar over the coastline, keep an eye out for dolphins frolicking in the water, as well as tail slaps from humpback whales during migration season. Cloudbase Paragliding in Wyrrabalong National Park on the NSW Central Coast, and Pro Flyte in Arakwal National Park near Byron Bay, are just a couple of options to choose from.

    Did you know? You can find hundreds of things to see and do in more than 225 national parks by downloading the NSW National Parks app before you leave home.

So, are you ready to suspend time? As you can see, there’s plenty more to do in NSW national parks than your standard go-to activities. So try something new, and enjoy the feeling of looking at your watch at the end of the day, marvelling at how slowly time has passed.