New South Wales

Dog-Friendly NSW: Travelling in NSW with a Dog

Dog-friendly NSW

As a lifelong resident of New South Wales, I used to think there weren’t many options for holidaying with a dog, that taking along a dog would severely limit your options. However, whether things are becoming more dog-friendly or its simply a matter of researching what is available, there’s an incredible variety of things to do on holidays with your dog in NSW. Sure, NSW isn’t the most dog-friendly place in the world, but there’s plenty of dog-friendly options in NSW.

Dog-Friendly Accommodation in NSW

The biggest deal breaker when it comes to holidaying with your dog is not finding somewhere suitable to stay. Luckily, there’s a wide variety of dog-friendly accommodation options available in NSW.

Dog-Friendly Hotels

If you’d like to stay in a hotel, an increasing number of hotels in Sydney are becoming dog-friendly. For a full list of your options, from luxury to boutique to beachside stays, check out my listing of dog-friendly hotels in Sydney.

The Intercontinental Double Bay is one of the most luxurious dog-friendly hotels in Sydney

Outside of Sydney, there aren’t as many hotels that are dog-friendly, although there are a few scattered gems. For instance, Bannisters has dog-friendly rooms at both their Port Stephens and Mollymook locations. The new Abode Malua Bay in Batemans Bay is dog-friendly, while there are multiple options in the Blue Mountains, Hunter Valley and across the border in Canberra. Some country motels also have a dog-friendly room or two (it’s always worthwhile asking).

When staying with your dog at Australian hotels, it’s best to book directly with the hotel – this is often the only way you can make a booking with your pet.

Dog-Friendly Caravan Parks

If you’re heading into regional NSW, the easiest dog-friendly option to find are dog-friendly caravan parks. I’d estimate that roughly half of caravan parks in NSW are dog-friendly, more in some inland areas. Although dogs are usually only allowed on campsites, and the degree of dog-friendliness varies from park to park. For instance, some excellent dog-friendly caravan parks have dog washes, fenced off-leash areas and more.

Many caravan parks in NSW permit dogs

Also be aware that some caravan parks are only dog-friendly on a seasonal basis. The most common peak period when dogs aren’t allowed is over Christmas and New Year, sometimes also the Easter long weekend. This most commonly applies up and down the NSW coast. Always confirm directly with the park that your dog is permitted, along with any exclusion periods and rules.

Check out my guide on finding dog-friendly camping sites.

Dog-Friendly Holiday Rentals

While some caravan parks have dog-friendly cabins in NSW, this is still a minority. Outside of Sydney, if you’re not wanting to camp and don’t have your own caravan or campervan, your best alternative is often a dog-friendly holiday rental. In particular, this is a great option if you’re holidaying with a large family or in a group, although smaller rentals are usually also available.

There are multiple websites in Australia that cater specifically for people looking for dog-friendly holiday rentals, such as Holidaying with Dogs. However, you can also filter holiday homes on both Stayz and Airbnb for pet-friendly options. I’ve put together these two lists of dog-friendly Airbnbs on both the NSW North Coast and NSW South Coast.

Dog-Friendly Sightseeing in NSW

So, what sightseeing options are there in NSW that allow your dog to join you? Unfortunately, the hundreds of national parks located in NSW are off the agenda, unless you leave your dog with a dog sitter for the day. However, there’s plenty more dog-friendly sightseeing options available…

1. Visit a Dog-Friendly Beach

There’s no shortage of beautiful beaches along the NSW coastline and plenty of them are dog-friendly, particularly when you head outside of the cities. While some beaches only permit dogs off-leash during restricted hours or on leash, such as the beautiful beaches of Jervis Bay, there are plenty more that allow dogs off-leash 24/7.

For some beautiful beaches to add to your itinerary, check out my list of the best dog-friendly beaches in NSW. I put this list together after road tripping up and down the coast and visit dozens of beaches with my pup. Best of all, all of the beaches I’ve included allow dogs off-leash all day long, with no time restrictions to worry about.

Dog-Friendly Beaches NSW
There’s a huge number of dog-friendly beaches in NSW, including off-leash beaches

2. Head Out Hiking

While many of the most popular hiking trails in NSW are located within national parks, and thus are off the agenda for hiking with your dog, there’s some other great hikes located around the state.

For starters, check out the hiking options available inside state forests. Dogs are permitted inside all NSW state forests. In most forests your dog just needs to be under your effective control, not necessarily on a leash. At Coffs Harbour, head to the Sealy Lookout in the Orara East State Forest, then complete one of the nearby hikes. Closer to Sydney, head to Strickland State Forest for a number of popular walks.

Hiking with our pup in the Strickland State Forest

Many other walking tracks are located on council land or simply outside of designated parks. For dog-friendly coastal walking tracks (some up to 20km long!), head to Kiama, Narooma or Port Macquarie. Some other fun options are the boardwalks at Urunga (south of Coffs Harbour) and under Lake Merimbula on the Far South Coast.

The on-leash Urunga Boardwalk is a beautiful walk

3. Visit a Dog-Friendly Winery

NSW has no shortage of fabulous wine regions, and luckily many cellar doors permit your dog to join you when wine tasting. Some cellar doors only permit dogs outside, while other cellar doors also allow dogs to join you inside, sometimes in air-conditioned comfort or next to an open fire. I recommend reaching out in advance to find out the details, plus make a booking.

Enjoying a wine tasting at Logan Wines in Mudgee

For recommendations on dog-friendly cellar doors in NSW, check out my guides to:

4. Dog-Friendly Gardens

Another great dog-friendly sightseeing option is to visit a dog-friendly garden. While unfortunately many of the gardens in NSW don’t permit dogs on their grounds, including many botanical gardens in NSW, luckily there are some great gardens that do permit on-leash dogs to join you.

For something different, visit a garden that permits dogs

For instance, in Cowra you can head to the Cowra Japanese Garden, the largest Japanese garden in the Southern Hemisphere, with on-leash dogs welcome, including in the outdoor area of the cafe. Alternatively, head to Oberon and the increasingly popular Mayfield Gardens, which is also dog-friendly.

For more ideas on gardens to visit, including the best time of year to visit them, check out my guide to dog-friendly gardens in NSW.

Dog-Friendly Dining in NSW

The same rules apply for dining out with your dog in NSW, as in the rest of Australia and New Zealand. That is, dogs are allowed in the outdoor dining areas of cafes and restaurants, albeit at the discretion of the owner/manager. Additionally, the NSW rules make clear that dogs must be leashed, not be fed, stay on the ground, and not pass through enclosed areas to reach the outdoor area.

While travelling around NSW with my dog, whether in the cities, along the coast or in the country, I’ve generally found most cafes and restaurants fairly accommodating. In my individual guides to different regions of NSW, I’ve picked out some of the more dog-friendly places to dine.

Dog-friendly dining at Sandbox Cafe in Port Macquarie

If you have trouble finding dog-friendly dining options, there’s always the option of take-away or the many picnic areas located around the state. Be warned though that dogs generally need to remain 10m away from food preparation or consumption areas in parks, so bring your own picnic blanket or sit away from the BBQs with your pup. Also consider staying in accommodation with your own cooking facilities, as a back-up during inclement weather.

Getting Around NSW with a Dog

By far the easiest way to travel around NSW with a dog is by your own car. In particular, your dog is likely to already be familiar with travelling in your car, helping them adjust to the idea of travelling. But what other options are available?

Hiring a Vehicle

If you don’t have your own car, or it’s unsuitable for a road trip, you might want to consider hiring a vehicle. Just be warned that not all rental car companies in Australia permit pets to travel inside their vehicles. To find out which companies have pet-friendly policies, check my guide to hire car companies in Australia.

Alternatively, you might want to consider hiring a pet-friendly campervan, even if you already have your own car. Having a campervan gives you the flexibility of staying in the many dog-friendly caravan parks in NSW, without the hassle of camping in a tent. You can even hire a campervan with your own toilet and shower.

Dog-Friendly Narooma
Hiring a campervan makes it easy to camp around NSW

There are an increasing number of pet-friendly campervan options in Australia. On our recent road trip around NSW, we hired a pet-friendly campervan from Apollo. For more information, check out my guide to hiring a pet-friendly campervan. Be prepared to pay a fee for your pet.

Dogs on Public Transport in NSW

Unfortunately, it’s not really feasible to travel around NSW with your pet dog on public transport, unless you’re staying very close to home. This is because pets aren’t allowed on trains within NSW, whether Sydney Trains, Intercity Trains or CountryLink. Pets are also not allowed on the coaches operated by Transport NSW. (Note that assistance animals are exempt.)

The only public transport run by Transport NSW that permits dogs on board are buses, light rail and ferries. Pets must travel in an enclosed carrier, plus you need to ask permission from the driver/crew and ideally avoid peak hour. Check out the full rules.

For other private transport operators, double check the rules if in doubt. I’ve found that many private ferries permit dogs of all sizes onboard, as long as they stay outside and on a leash. This applies on the ferry to Bundeena in Sydney, plus the seasonal ferry between Huskisson and Myola at Jervis Bay. Even the crew on the ferries in Sydney often allow dogs with just a leash on the outside deck.

Flying with Your Dog

Most regional flights within NSW are operated by either Qantaslink or Regional Express (REX), both of which permit pets onboard, with conditions. Virgin Australia also permits pets on board, while Jetstar doesn’t accept pets.

Dropping off Schnitzel at a freight terminal for his flight
Flying with our dog on Qantas within Australia

Note that pets are only permitted to fly in the hold, in a large airline approved crate. When flying with Qantas, you should book directly online in advance with Qantas Freight. With REX, it seems that smaller pets (where the weight of the pet plus crate combined is less than 30kg) can be flown as excess luggage with no booking required, otherwise larger pets need to be booked with the freight division.

For more information, see my guide on flying with a dog in Australia. During the summer months, approach flying with a pet with caution, and see my tips.

Dog-Friendly Regional Guides

Travelling to a specific area of New South Wales with your pup? Check out my detailed guides on different regions, with suggestions for accommodation, dining, parks and dog-friendly sightseeing.

Around Sydney

Dog-Friendly Sydney

NSW North Coast

Dog-friendly Coffs Harbour

NSW South Coast

Dog beaches NSW

Country NSW

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