11 Best Things To Do In Winter In North East Tasmania

Tasmania has become a destination on everyone’s wish list in the last couple of years and once you step foot on this little island state, you’ll understand why! But when those mid-year chills set in, the tourists disappear… Making winter in North East Tasmania a delightful experience.

We have called North East Tasmania home for almost two years now and are still blown away by the landscape, the animals, and the culture. Winter has become our favourite time of year to explore this region.

North East Tasmania has the mildest weather in the entire island state and is the perfect destination for a winter vacation. The mountain peaks of Ben Lomond are often dusted in snow, the crowds have left the Bay of Fires and the sun warms the crisp air slightly as you explore the small North East Tassie peaks in search of waterfalls.

There are plenty of things to do in winter in North East Tasmania that won’t leave you frozen like an icicle… for too long at least! In this post, you’ll find our favourite things to do in winter.

Stay Warm On Your Winter North East Tasmania Trip

  • Remember to layer appropriately – clothing such as thermals, down jackets and rain jackets go a long way!
  • Bring a wetsuit if you plan on swimming anywhere
  • Always plan for the worst conditions! The weather can be unpredictable and change on a dime
  • Pack a beanie and gloves, don’t underestimate the wind chill
  • Invest in a good set of waterproof shoes to walk in
Surfing a right hand wave at Eddystone Point in the Bay of Fires

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The Best Things To Do in Winter In North East Tasmania

1. Take The Plunge At The Floating Sauna On Lake Derby

Derby Floating Sauna at sunrise with mist covering the lake

The popular mountain biking destination of Blue Derby has another reason to visit, the Floating Sauna. Nestled into the trees on the banks of Lake Derby, the floating sauna has created quite the buzz. 

The sauna is the first and currently the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere and offers a delightful relaxation in a picturesque and tranquil setting. Alternate between soaking in the woodfired sauna and plunging into the deep blue waters of Lake Derby. 

The Floating Sauna is often booked out months in advance through the summer period, but it’s much easier to secure a spot in winter – though booking in advance is still highly recommended.

Winter is the ideal time to indulge in the Floating Sauna because you get to experience it as it should be – with a stark difference between hot and cold. The best time to visit the sauna is at sunrise or sunset, which is at a much more manageable time in winter!

Local Tip: Sunset is the best time as the sun sets over the lake lighting up the Sauna for an epic show to end the day.

2. Score The Best Free Campsite At Swimcart Beach – Bay Of Fires

Sunset over Swimcart Beach in The Bay Of Fires Tasmania

Swimcart Beach is one of the many free campsites in the Bay of Fires and is arguably the best. The sites are located on a rise just beyond the sandy beach and look out to Binalong Bay and the extended North East Tasmanian coast. 

In Summer, Swimcart Beach is packed full almost every day and the best sites on the beach are next to impossible to score. But in winter, the majority of the vanlifers have migrated north, allowing plenty of opportunities for you to grab the best site on the coast. 

While the water is frigid and I wouldn’t recommend swimming without a wetsuit, the beaches are incredibly beautiful to wander along and the surf is generally much more consistent in winter. 

But the best part about camping in winter in North East Tasmania is the sunrises and sunsets. Due to the crisp and clear air, we are blessed with breathtaking shows of pink, red and purple almost every morning and evening.

Explore our full guide to visiting the Bay Of Fires Tasmania.

3. Taste The Local Produce At Pyengana Dairy

The Pyengana Dairy is located 30 minutes west of St Helens and is well known for its delicious cheese and milk. The dairy is one of our favourite places for an afternoon cheeseboard and some local wine while watching the cows do their thing in the paddocks right beside the cafe. 

The Pyengana Dairy has a cosy indoor seating area for when the weather is a touch too miserable that looks out on the distant hills. You could lose a couple of hours eating the delicious local produce, sipping wine and gazing out at the scenery.

Located on St Columba Falls Road, this is the perfect stop after a visit to the waterfalls nearby to warm up. 

4. Explore The Raging Waterfalls In The Pyengana Foothills

St Columba Falls on an overcast moody day

St Columba Falls and Halls Falls are both within 20 minutes of each other and the Pyengana Dairy sits smack bang in the middle. 

Halls Falls is located on the northern side of the Tasman Highway and a short 20-minute walk will deliver you to the base of the three-tiered waterfall. Here you’ll find giant tree ferns lining the river where the water cascades from deep green moss-covered rocks.

St Columba Falls is a shorter 10-minute walk to the monstrous waterfall that is arguably the second tallest in Tasmania (there is a debate regarding this topic). After a week of rain, you can hear the water raging long before you lay eyes on the mess of white flowing down the cliffside. 

Winter brings about a good dose of rain and often these North East Waterfalls are flowing heavily at this time. 

5. Spend The Afternoon Whale Watching On Tasmania’s North East Coast

Humpback whale of the coast in north east Tasmania

A wintry afternoon spent at one of the many lookout points along Tasmania’s North East coast could reward you with sightings of humpback whales as they migrate north or return south later on in the year.

The best places to watch the whales is Beerbarrel Beach near St Helens or Peggy’s Point in Bicheno. At Peggy’s Point, we were lucky enough to witness an orca passing ridiculously close to the rocky point, which we later found out wasn’t that rare! 

6. Taste Delicious Tasmanian Whisky Or Gin At The Farm Shed In Bicheno

If you choose to visit Bicheno, it would be rude not to pop into the Farm Shed to warm up on a flight of whisky! This is such a cute shop with some beautiful local produce and other artsy gifts. 

They stock premium regional whisky and gins as well as over 90 wines from 25 local vineyards. This place is dangerously addictive and best to be left for an afternoon visit! 

7. Watch The Bicheno Blowhole Erupt

The blowhole in Bicheno is one of the coolest we’ve seen when the swell is cooperating! The water can spurt over 10 feet into the air before crashing down on the surrounding rocks.

The blowhole is located south of the town at the end of Esplanade Rd. This is the perfect adventure on a stormy day when the swell is high. Just make sure to stay far enough away to avoid being soaked! 

8. Hike To St Patricks Head For Sunset

Admiring the view with a PLB of a cloud inversion at St Patricks Head in St Helens Tasmania

St Patricks Head is one of our favourite hikes to do in winter in North East Tasmania, offering 360-degree views of the vibrant coastline and lush countryside. The hike takes less than an hour to reach the peak, making it an ideal sunset hike. 

The trailhead for St Patricks Head is located just north of St Mary’s, a 40-minute drive south of St Helens. The best thing about doing this hike in winter is the fact that sunset is much earlier and it can be done before dinner! 

If you are after a more challenging hike, check out Mt Victoria or Mt Saddleback, located approximately an hour west of St Helens.

9. Explore the Quaint Town Of St Helens

Sunrise over the marina in St Helens in North East Tasmania

Through winter, St Helens ceases to be a tourist trap and begins to show its true colours as North East Tasmania’s largest fishing town. With the main streets leading from the bay, you can find a cute cafe for coffee before wander the shipyard docks and waters edge while snacking on some local fish and chips from Skippers

You may be surprised with the variety you’re offered for dinner from such a small town. But as sunset approaches, you can indulge in some of the finest restaurants in the area. There’s truly something for everyone.

10. Ride The Epic St Helens Mountain Bike Trails

Whipping over gap jump on Send Helens in St Helens MTB Trails in North East Tasmania

Unlike many other trails, the St Helens Mountain Bike Trails actually runs best in winter when there is more moisture in the air! 

The sandy trails grip incredibly through winter, making them the best trails to visit at this time of year! These trails offer something for all skill levels and riding styles, rewarding those that make it to the top of Flagstaff hill with a stunning view of the coastline. 

Unfortunately, the shuttle companies don’t run regularly in winter so it’s best to give Gravity Isle a call before planning a day on the downhill trails! However, there are up trails that connect to all the downhill runs if you’re game enough for a big climb! 

11. Experience Northern Tasmania’s Only Ski Fields

Wearing my Mountain Designs rain jacket ehile hiking in the snow at Ben Lomond Tasmania

Ben Lomond National Park is one of two ‘ski fields’ in Tasmania. The other ski field is Mount Field, located in the south near Hobart. 

Excitement is rising for Ben Lomond this year as they’ve just purchased their very first snowmaking machines and are ready for a ripper of a season! 

Now before you get too excited, this ski field is not on the same level as Thredbo or Falls Creek on the mainland. But what it lacks in steep and long descents, it makes up for with a stunning landscape and cheaper prices. 

The opening times of this ski field often depend on the snow so it’s best to check their website before making your way up the mountain! You can rent gear to try snowboarding, skiing or tobogganing at the base of the Ben Lomond slopes. 

Even if you’d rather just look at the snow and the landscape, the drive up Jacobs Ladder is worth the trip! However, snow chains are often required and I would highly recommend driving this in a 4wd as it’s an unsealed road that can get quite icy! 

What are your favourite things to do in winter in North East Tasmania? We’d love to hear your experience in the comments below!