Norfolk Island offers all the things you love about the South Pacific, and a whole lot more.
It’s a small subtropical island approximately 1,600 km north-east of Sydney and 1,100 km north-west of Auckland. Pristine coastline boarders the 8 km by 5 km of verdant landscape. It will only take you a short flight from Australia or New Zealand to feel totally off-grid.
Around every bend you’ll find a new surprise or twist that will make you rethink your notions of paradise. The beaches are some of the Pacific’s best, with impossibly clear waters sheltered by teeming coral reefs just a short swim from the sand. But you’ll also discover moody cliffs where waterfalls tumble into the sea and dramatic headlands with views that go on forever.
And as for food, islanders have been enjoying organic produce and paddock-to-plate dining long before it became ‘a thing’. When it comes to nature, any ol’ island can grow coconut trees. Norfolk Island is home to the tallest fern trees on the planet and towering pines that tickle the underbellies of passing clouds, while lush forests and offshore islands are sanctuaries to some of the world’s rarest birds.
Welcome to an island where their doors are rarely locked and their hearts are always open; a place where wandering cows have right of way, and everyone has time to stop and chat. Many visitors say that a holiday on Norfolk Island is like stepping back in time. Locals prefer to say it’s like stepping into a better time.
Where to go
Kingston – UNESCO World Heritage Site
Kingston is one of 11 sites that make up the Australia Convict Sites World Heritage Property. It is recognised as one of the best surviving examples of outstanding Georgian buildings and evocative ruins. The site is also a living showcase of the first Polynesian settlers and the Bounty mutineer descendants who travelled from Pitcairn Island to settle on Norfolk in 1856. To truly experience this rich, vibrant part of world history is to leisurely explore it for yourself. Walking around the beachfront ruins of this historically significant site is as stunning as it is interesting. A visit to the Museums will reveal more layers of the islands fascinating history and unique culture.
When you find yourself on a small, emerald-coloured island in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean you are going to want the best views possible, and Mount Pitt delivers that, and much more. Drive or hike to the top for overwhelming 360° views stretching out to the horizon as far as the eye can see. Then walk the Summit track from Mount Pitt to Mount Bates through the National Park amongst evergreen pines and the tallest tree ferns in the world. During your trek you may be lucky enough to spot the rare Green parrot, endemic to Norfolk Island. Start or end your day observing spectacular sunrises and sunsets from the perfect viewing platform of Mount Pitt.
Emily Bay lagoon
Norfolk Island’s 32 kilometres of coastline has a dazzling array of pristine sandy beaches, and Emily Bay lagoon at Kingston is by far the most spectacular. Protected by the second most southern reef, the pristine clear waters is home to more than 60 individual marine species, and that’s not including coral and anemones! The calm waters are perfect for swimming and snorkelling, or just unwind and relax on the beach. Take a leisurely stroll along the sandy shore at dusk, then watch as the sun dips beyond the horizon while you indulge on a delicious picnic hamper accompanied by your favourite bottle of chilled wine.
Captain Cook Memorial Lookout
A small stone obelisk marks the spot, roughly, where Captain Cook landed on Norfolk Island during his second round-the-world voyage in 1774. Impressed by what he found here, Cook described Norfolk Island as ‘paradise’, and it’s not hard to see why. This is a truly beautiful spot. From the lookout, feast your eyes on majestic vistas. Along the coastline, Norfolk pines stand proudly on steep, indented cliffs, the South Pacific crashing at their feet. Offshore, you’ll see formations such Bird Rock, Elephant Rock and Green Pool Stone. Bring a barbeque and enjoy the facilities, or if you are feeling energetic, hike the Bridle Track for stunning scenery.
Where to stay
Forrester Court Clifftop Cottages
Situated on 16 acres of lush parklands with majestic ocean views over Cascade Bay, these boutique Clifftop cottages provide absolute privacy along with a highly personalised service during your stay.
Location: 59 Matts Ground Road, Cascade.
Tintoela Homestead and Cottages
Three luxury boutique accommodations sit amidst four acres of tropical gardens with incredible ocean views. The Tintoela Homestead and Cottages showcases Norfolk Island architecture with a blend of sophisticated living.
Location: 510 Harpers Road, Cascade.
Watermill Beach House Estate
This beautifully styled, lavish four bedroom home is uniquely located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Watermill Beach House Estate offers private tranquillity, expansive open-plan comfort, and is within walking distance to the beach.
Location: Country Road, Kingston.
Where (or what) to eat
The Homestead Restaurant
The Homestead Restaurant is set in a 1930’s island home and uses a wood fuelled Argentinian Perilla grill to enhance the contemporary dining experience. The menu intensifies the flavour of the seasonal local produce, meat and seafood.
Location: 264 New Farm Road.
Hilli Restaurant & Cafe
Hilli Restaurant is one of Norfolk Island’s leading fine dining restaurants, offering a variety of cuisines and a welcoming atmosphere. The warm setting reflects the very meaning of the name “Hilli” which is a Norfolk Island expression meaning “disinclined to exertion, relax, take it easy, and unwind.”
Location: Queen Elizabeth Avenue.
This beautifully restored house is the iconic centrepiece of Governor’s Lodge Hotel. Bailey’s offers historic ambience, a modern Australian a la carte menu and a chance to connect to the true heart of our property.
Location: 30 Queen Elizabeth Avenue.
High Tea by the Sea
Indulge yourself with a high tea served on the lawns of a clifftop property with stunning views. Your tastebuds will awaken with delicious sweet and savoury delights, accompanied by speciality tea/coffee, and local liqueurs.
Location: 59 Matts Ground Road, Cascade.
Nightlife and bars
When it comes to drinking, Norfolk’s watering holes are some of the most welcoming in the South Pacific. Sample the cellar-door delights of our award-winning Two Chimneys winery. Or drop in to the Black Anchor Bar and experience the island-inspired creations of our local cocktail mixologists. Got a thirst for great craft beer? Fill up a growler of Castaway Brewing ale and head down to the beach with mates to toast the sunset. If you’re keen to meet our locals at their most relaxed, call into one of many sporting clubs for a sociable drink. Trust us, you won’t go thirsty on Norfolk. And if you’ve overindulged, kick-start the next day with our locally grown and roasted coffee.
A valid passport is the preferred means of documentation; however, photographic identification such as a driver licence is acceptable for visitors from Australia.
Visitors travelling from New Zealand require a passport as identification.
Those without an Australian or New Zealand passport may require an Australian Visitor Visa.
As a rule, the island doesn’t expect visitors to tip. However, if you are happy with someone who has gone the extra mile, then a tip is always appreciated.
While a decent pair of shoes will be all you require for a day of exploring the town, to make the most of Norfolk Island from hilltop to waterfront, a hire car is highly recommended as the top choice of transport. Get exploring over pine-covered hills with the windows down to catch the fresh ocean air. There are a few hire options, so do some research before choosing your wheels. And check your accommodation booking before organising a hire car because some properties include one with your stay.
This story was produced in partnership with Norfolk Island Tourism.