I've lived in the Hunter Valley for most of my life and one of my favourite things to do is head to Hunter Valley Gardens (HVG) in Pokolbin to play some Putt Putt Golf and Aqua Golf.
Located past the second roundabout and in front of the lake the golf centre is hard to miss. The Aqua Golf targets are floating in the lake (obviously) and the Putt Putt course is right beside it. Both activities make a nice change from the wine-centric Pokolbin area and its hundreds of cellar doors and wine tastings.
Putt Putt Golf: The 18-hole course was always fairly basic and is even simpler now that a lot of obstacles such as rocks and pipes have been pulled out (although it is still fairly rare to get anything lower than the maximum 6 strokes on hole 11). As a result it is very kid friendly, though I always see groups of adults and couples enjoying a round/displaying signs of golf rage as well.
It is very good value, costing only $6 per person with pre-booked group rates even cheaper at $5pp. In a picturesque setting close to shops and cafes, HVG Putt Putt can be a lot of fun with the right company. Their busiest time is on the weekends but it is never so busy that you need to wait.
Also just so you know in advance, the menagerie of headless Australian animal statues scattered throughout the course was the work of a gang of hoons one night and not some weird artistic commentary on habitat destruction. A surveillance camera now monitors the area as a result.
Aqua Golf: Definitely more for teenagers and adults, Aqua Golf is also good value for money with one bucket of balls costing $7 or two for $12. For the unfamiliar, the aim of Aqua golf is to hit a golf ball into one of the numerous basket targets floating on the water, the targets range in distance with the ones further out yielding better prizes including hot air balloon rides, wine tours and a cash jackpot. It is surprisingly fun even for novices like me who's best effort was once hitting the edge of the Subway basket, one of the closest targets.
The best thing about HVG is that there is something for everyone, whether it's the actual gardens, aqua/putt putt golf, cellar door, shopping, eateries or just relaxing with a picnic on one of the area's many grassy knolls, a whole day can easily be spent at Hunter Valley Gardens.