Take a tropical island break with a Norfolk Island long weekend getaway and four days of things to do on Norfolk Island. It’s such an easy and rewarding holiday, especially if you avoid these 8 Norfolk Island holiday blunders!
Rugged cliffs and rolling green hills studded with trademark Norfolk pine trees are the first sign that the Air New Zealand flight is about to land on the eight by five-kilometre speck in the South Pacific Ocean for your Norfolk Island getaway. It sounds like the perfect start to a getaway, and it is, but only if you avoid these seven classic Norfolk Island holiday blunders.
7 Classic Norfolk Island blunders to avoid
There are a few things you need to know about a holiday on Norfolk Island straight up.
- You can leave your passport at home because although you’ll be travelling through the international airport. However, photo ID is still required and your passport makes that super easy. You can use a drivers licence if travelling from Australia.
- Give way to cows when you are driving on Norfolk Island’s roads because they have right of way.
- Don’t be an arrogant traveller! A friendly Norfolk wave for everyone you pass when driving is mandatory.
- Don’t be offended if a local says ‘whatta-waye’ to you. They are just using a traditional Norf’k language greeting which means ‘how are you?’.
- Although Norfolk Island is popular with older travellers, don’t assume that there’s nothing for active visitors to enjoy.
- Don’t expect to use your mobile phone like you are on the mainland, you’ll need a Tourist Mobile plan (available for $30 on the island) and internet hotspot vouchers. It’s a good time for a digital detox.
- The biggest blunder you’ll most likely make when planning your Norfolk Island holiday is not making it long enough. The serenity, golden beaches, Norfolk Island weather and scenic landscape are a perfect antidote to the stresses of life. Book those extra days.
Here’s four days of things to do on Norfolk Island
This is how I spent four days relaxing and exploring with a Norfolk Island long weekend.
Four day long weekend on Norfolk Island
The two-hour flight from Brisbane does not need a passport yet leaves from the international airport to arrive at this Australian territory 1000km from the coastline. Passengers walk across the tarmac to process through Australian Border Control and Customs, but it is a relaxed and friendly welcome.
Pick up a hire car at the airport and have a look around the island before you settle in at your accommodation. A five-minute drive up to Mt Pitt for the 360-degree view is a must. It is the second-highest point on the island and offers wonderful views. It is also a great spot for a picnic. You can walk up here but you would want to be fit! TIP – Head up Mt Pitt at night time for a fabulous view of the stars.
Include a stop at the Visitor Information Centre and dip into their first-hand local knowledge. This is the place to pick up a Hunt and Gather map which will show you the location of the best roadside stalls with honesty boxes on the island. TIP – If you are self-catering, this is a must stop.
I stayed at Ocean Breeze Cottages which perch on a ridge overlooking the ocean. Yes, there is an ocean breeze that wafts through the comfortable villa-style dwelling. It has a full kitchen (plenty of space to cook up the fresh produce of Norfolk Island) a spacious lounge area with a covered verandah and ensuite bathroom.
Experience your first taste of Norfolk Island’s local produce with a farm to plate meal at Homestead Restaurant where a Perilla charcoal grill turns island caught fish, meat and seafood into a delectable dinner.
Day two of your long weekend on Norfolk Island
Pop into the Golden Orb Café for breakfast. If you are visiting on a Sunday, the arts and craft markets are just opposite the café and operate from 8.30 am to 10.30 am. Try the local bananas.
Gain insight into Norfolk Island’s history with a stop at the Fletcher’s Mutiny Cyclorama and Guava Art Gallery on Queen Elizabeth Avenue. Created by talented artists, this 360-degree mural really gives visitors the feeling that they are witnessing the 1789 Bounty mutiny. It’s a great way to learn about the island’s deep history.
For a full Norfolk Island history immersion experience, time your visit for Foundation Day in March or Bounty Day in June.
Pack your swimming suit for the next stop, the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Kingston which dates to 1788. This is a must-do for your Norfolk Island holiday. It’s a peaceful place where cows wander the roads grazing on the bright green grass and historic homes line Quality Row. The elegant Government House mansion marks the way towards the island’s golf club and Norfolk Island Cemetary. The grass-filled grounds of the cemetery are filled with old weathered headstones full of sad tales of young lives cut short.
The gently curved sand beach of Emily Bay is the best swimming spot on the island. Its waters are protected from the sea by a reef which makes for pretty viewing from a glass-bottomed boat. You can also hire snorkels and flippers and walk out from the beach at Slaughter Bay at low tide for a glimpse at the magical underwater world.
The Kingston includes All Saints Church, Kingston Pier which for 200 years has been the main entry point into Norfolk Island, and the Commissariat museum (under the church). The Commissariat once held supplies and food for the colony. The pier is where local fishers fillet their catch and you’ll see the sharks circling below in the water for the offcuts! Stroll the pier at sunset for great photo opportunities.
Try another old-style local favourite, Hilli’s Restaurant & Cafe for your evening meal where you can taste the local Trumpeter (Sweet Lip) fish, Hilli Goat Cheese, Kingston pork. and locally grown seasonal vegetables.
Norfolk Island getaway day 3
Head to The Olive Café in the Village for Norfolk Island holiday breakfast for what I think is the best coffee on the island.
Book yourself on a tour through the home of one of Norfolk Island’s more recent famous residents, novelist Colleen McCullough. Her property, Out Yenna, is an eye-opening visit. Tours of her house started after her death in 2015 and give visitors an insight into her eccentric world of antique Chinese silk panels, French gilt chairs, over the top wallpapered rooms and an overfilled fern conservatory.
You’ll see the now vintage IBM typewriter where she wrote many of her 25 novels and photos of her well-loved cat George. If you haven’t read The Thorn Birds, which sold more than 33 million copies and was turned into a television mini-series, there’s a chance to pick up a copy in the gift shop at the end. The Colleen McCullough Home Tours run from Tuesday to Friday.
After lunch, it is time for some exercise. Try Island sightseeing on two wheels with a tour on an electric bike from Norfolk Island Fitness. Even the toughest hills are easy to handle with level five electric power under your seat. I didn’t attempt it, but they say the bikes will even get you to the top of Mt Pitt!
If you prefer a more leisurely option, a visit to the cellar door at Roderick and Noelene Buffett McAlpine’s Two Chimneys Winery is worthwhile not only for the fine wines but also the delicious vineyard platters (available on request for special occasions). Created from the best fresh daily produce from Nolene’s family garden, these artistic platters look as good as they taste. It’s also a good opportunity to take a look around the Steele’s Point area.
Enjoy the sunset with a short drive to Puppies Point and a home-grown picnic platter from Platters by Paige. There’s also the Puppies Point Sunset bar with live music, bar service and cocktails, food platters or stalls. The sunset bar is generally open every Wednesday and Sunday afternoon.
Book yourself on a Progressive Dinner where you’ll enjoy a three-course meal with each course at a different island home. These are held as a tour every Monday and Wednesday. Guests travel by bus to their homes and the hosts tell the stories of their Island lineage and island life. You’ll hear tall tales and true about what happened to mutineer Fletcher Christian along with how to make a living island style.
Born from a tumultuous history of convict brutality, Tahitian sojourns and resettled mutineers, the island’s community has a solid grasp of its heritage and proudly speaks the local Norfolk language. Many residents trace their lineage back through generations of Adams, Christians, Buffetts and a few other family names living on subdivided sections of their original land grants.
Day four of your Norfolk Island long weekend getaway
5 Norfolk must-dos
- What’s it like to live on Norfolk Island? Find out at the Bounty Folk Museum which is filled with local artefacts and history.
- Check out the local products at Prinke Eco Store. This is a no plastic, healthy food option where they serve coffee and local teas all day.
- Pop into award-winning Norfolk Island Brewing at Castaway Hotel. It’s open every day from 2 pm and you can enjoy a cheese platter with your craft beer.
- On Saturday there is a farmers market near the Visitor Information Centre and on Sunday the market at the Bicentennial Complex has a wide selection of souvenirs that make perfect take-home presents. Pick up more local products and some of the excellent local beef at Slick & Sons just near the airport. They also stock local Hilli Goat Cheese.
- Norfolk’s coastline demands to be travelled, and a hire car allows you to do that at your own pace. Roll down the windows and hit the road to explore those turns that look interesting because they probably are!
Try the popular sunset island fish fry. The fish here is as fresh as it gets and you’ll enjoy some great local salads and traditional desserts too.
Tempted to visit? As they say on Norfolk, see yourley morla! (See you tomorrow). The friendly folk at Norfolk Island Tourism can help with all your questions about things to do on Norfolk Island.
More short getaways
For another tropical getaway, try a few relaxing days in Palm Cove in North Queensland.
If you just love island holidays, Pumpkin Island could be just what you need.
Wonderful and thank you. I really must visit there soon.
Cheers, Graham Stephenson.
There’s so much to explore on the island it really deserves multiple visits.