With Christmas approaching at an increasingly alarming rate, finding the perfect gift for your loved ones often feels like an impossible task – and an expensive one.
But now Aussies are getting the chance to “give more memories and less things” by purchasing a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
From hot air ballooning over NSW’s beautiful Hunter Valley region to sunset catamaran cruises, cheese making and even shark diving, Red Balloon’s festive gift selection will satisfy even the pickiest family member.
Here’s a guide to some of the craziest and most beautiful experiences out there.
Hot air ballooning over the NSW Hunter Valley wine region just might be the ticket for a special loved one, with the package including a champagne breakfast at a vineyard
Hot Air Balloon Ride Over the Hunter Valley with Champagne Breakfast: Two people, $678
Sprinkled with endless valleys of vineyards and farmlands, the Hunter Valley provides the perfect backdrop for a hot air balloon flight.
An early start will have you soaring into the sky just as the sun begins to rise over the remarkably beautiful wine region – creating a breathtaking moment no one will forget.
Even watching the huge balloon inflate is a spectacle in itself, as the professional and impeccable staff skillfully use a mixture of fire and gas to ensure the balloon carries you safely across the rolling meadows.
After hopping into the traditional basket, the peace and tranquility is intoxicating as you drift slowly over the picture-perfect vineyards in a golden sunrise hue.
When you land back on the ground, you’ll be taken back to a top winery – Peterson’s – to sample their delicious sparkling wine over an à la carte breakfast – and you’ll even get photos to take home and make all your friends jealous .
Shark diving is on the bucket list of many brave people (pictured, the experience at Sydney’s Sea Life aquarium)
Shark Diving at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium: $329
Dive in for the ultimate test of your nerves with this thrilling underwater tour that lets you explore Sea Life Sydney’s four-million-litre Oceanarium with full scuba gear.
On this dive you will come face to face with gray nurse sharks, sevengill sharks, giant stingrays and an abundance of exotic fish, with fully qualified instructors to ensure you get the most out of this exhilarating, never-to-be-forgotten experience.
Suitable for both certified and non-certified divers, your experience begins with an ‘Introduction to Diving’ briefing and pool skills session before taking the plunge and concludes with an afternoon theory lesson.
Haloumi cheese is many people’s barbeque highlight – and on this course you can learn to make it with a loved one, while enjoying bottomless bubbles
How to Make Haloumi Cheese with Bubbles: Two people, $80
Discover the secrets behind making the salty, hearty and delicious haloumi you love during this hands-on cheese making course.
Accompany expert instructions with bottomless bubbles and you’re sure to make the tastiest haloumi you’ve ever eaten.
Take home a haloumi recipe and 250g of your own cheese.
Jet boat Sydney jet blast: two people, $110
Hop aboard a specially designed jet boat for an exhilarating 35-minute tour of Sydney Harbour.
Holding nothing back, your expert guide will race across the water at speeds of up to 75 km/h performing amazing maneuvers including 270 degree spins, wild fishtails and amazing powerbreak stops.
The boat has a dead-rise of 20 degrees, which makes the ship sail more smoothly through the sometimes rough conditions of Sydney Harbour.
Quad Adventure Tour: $119
Live a little on the wild side as you explore the magnificent sand dunes of Port Stephens by quad bike.
Start your tour along the paths in the coastal grassland and scrub before arriving at the vast sand dunes.
Your guide takes you over increasingly challenging dunes as the hour passes, testing your skills as you zoom up and down the sand hills.
From the peaks, which can be up to 30 meters high, you will be rewarded with 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape, including the beautiful coastline.
A picnic in Sydney’s Royal Botanical Gardens could be perfect for the more relaxed person in your life
Picnic at the Royal Botanical Gardens by Luke Nguyen: two people, $140
Enjoy a beautiful afternoon among the flora and fauna of the Royal Botanic Gardens and enjoy a delicious picnic put together by Luke Nguyen.
All you need to do is collect your picnic box from Botanic House at your chosen time and find a quiet spot in the extensive gardens.
The box contains an array of savory and sweet treats, expertly combining South East Asian flavours, Australian produce and indigenous ingredients with a fresh, modern twist. Enjoy spring rolls, honey pork bao and cream caramel pudding with coconut sponge cake paired with a bottle of wine.