Norfolk Island will make you rethink your notion of paradise. It offers all the things you love about the South Pacific, and a whole lot more.
The 8km by 5km subtropical island is approximately 1,600 km northeast of Sydney and 1,100 km northwest of Auckland. It only takes a short flight from Australia or New Zealand to feel totally off-grid.
Once here, every bend reveals a new surprise. Brilliant and teeming coral reefs hug the coastline and shelter the island’s stunning golden sand beaches. The island has moody cliffs where waterfalls tumble into the sea, dramatic headlands with seemingly infinite views, historic buildings, verdant forests and fields piled high with fresh delicious produce.
Norfolk Island is famous for towering pines that tickle the underbellies of passing clouds. But it’s also home to the tallest fern trees on the planet. The island’s lush forests and offshore islands are sanctuaries to some of the world’s rarest birds.
It’s also a gastronomic paradise. Norfolk Islanders have enjoyed organic produce and paddock-to-plate dining long before it became ‘a thing’.
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. This is a place where wandering cows have right of way, and everyone has time to stop and chat. The locals rarely lock their doors and their hearts are always open.
Need to know
State: External Territory of Australia
Currency: Australian Dollar (AUD)
Official language(s): English & Norf’k
Emergency contact number: 000
Time zone: GMT+11:00 (daylight savings GMT +12:00)
Power adaptor required: Mains voltage Australian (3pin 230V AC, 50Hz)
Where to go
Kingston – UNESCO World Heritage Site
One of 11 sites that make up the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage Property, Kingston is among the best surviving examples of outstanding Georgian buildings and evocative ruins. It’s 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. 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. Mount Pitt delivers that, and much more. Drive or hike to the top for overwhelming 360° views stretching to the horizon. Walk the Summit track from Mount Pitt to Mount Bates through the National Park to admire the 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. The Mount Pitt viewing platform is a perfect place to observe Norfolk Island’s spectacular sunrises and sunsets.
Emily Bay lagoon
Norfolk Island’s 32 kilometres of coastline has a dazzling array of pristine sandy beaches. But Emily Bay lagoon at Kingston is by far the most spectacular. Protected by the second most southern reef in Australia, the pristine water is home to more than 60 individual marine species, and that’s not including coral and anemones! The calm water is perfect for swimming and snorkelling, or just relaxing on the beach and soaking up the view. Take a leisurely stroll along the sandy shore at dusk, then watch as the sun dips beyond the horizon while you indulge in a delicious picnic hamper accompanied by your favourite bottle of chilled wine.
Norfolk Island must-dos for discerning travellers
360° Cultural Experience
Standing in the middle of Fletcher’s Mutiny Cyclorama absorbing the 360° artwork, sound effects and 3D illusions, it’s easy to imagine yourself in the thick of the ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’ action. This panoramic masterpiece created by local artists is a must-do cultural experience.
Golf with a Pro
The Norfolk Island Golf Club is one of the few courses on the planet set in a World Heritage area. Set amongst towering Norfolk Pines, edged by the Pacific Ocean, this 9 hole, 18 tee course is challenging, and it offers jaw-dropping views. Tee up the resident golf professional for a private lesson to learn the course.
Guided Star Gazing
Norfolk Island has minimal light pollution and is registered as a Gold Level Dark Sky Town by the Australian Dark Sky Register. Experience astrological magnificence on an Astro Tour where a local guide personally directs your gaze towards stunning constellations and planets in the island’s clear night skies.
The Sunset Bar
For a truly unique experience, join the locals at The Sunset Bar for live music and incredible views served with delicious platters, exotic cocktails, beer and wine. Les and Pip Quintal lovingly built this bar on their family property. Ask Les to show you his Helen Reddy memorabilia and share his story.
Norfolk Island luxury accommodation
Forrester Court Clifftop Cottages
Spread across 16 acres of lush parklands with majestic ocean views over Cascade Bay, the boutique Clifftop Cottages offer absolute privacy along with highly personalised service.
Location: 59 Matts Ground Road, Cascade.
Tintoela Homestead and Cottages
The Tintoela Homestead and Cottages showcase Norfolk Island architecture with a blend of sophisticated living. This luxury boutique accommodation is set amidst four acres of tropical gardens with incredible ocean views.
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 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.
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.
Platters by Paige
For the ultimate experience in personalised luxury, treat yourself to a memorable foodie experience. Platters by Paige delivers food fantasies ranging from simple platters, to grazing tables, to ultimate feasts.
Locations: At your accommodation, or in a picturesque location around Norfolk Island.
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.
A Norfolk Island Entry Pass is required for all travel to our island. Complete and submit the online application 24 to 72 hours before your departure. An application is required for each traveller, including children. Before completing an application please refer to the current travel requirements and restrictions here.
Useful phrases and courtesy
The Norfolk Island culture is unlike any other in the Pacific, proudly weaving together the DNA of Bounty Mutineers and their Polynesian families. Customs and etiquette can be tricky to understand when travelling to a new place. It can be easy to misread a cue by being unaware of traditions and sensitivities. The Norfolk Navigator is an online collection of resources, information and guides to support your understanding about the island and our people.
- Hello – Watawieh
- Goodbye and see you tomorrow – Sii yorlye morla.
- Thankyou – Thaenk yu
- How are you all? – Watawieh yorlye?
- I’m well thank you – Ai guud thaenks.
- What’s your name? – Wats yus niem?
- My name is… – Mais niem es…
- I don’t understand – Ai kaawaa
- What did you say? – Wathing yu tal?
As a rule, visitors are not expected to tip on Norfolk Island. 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 article was produced with content supplied by Norfolk Island Tourism and is a Signature Luxury Travel & Style digital exclusive. Be the first to see more exclusive online content by subscribing to the enewsletter.
Lead image: Emily Bay, Norfolk Island © Tourism Australia