Stockton sandspit

Hunter Wetlands National Park

Overview

Stockton sandspit, close to Newcastle, is a bird watching haven in Hunter Wetlands National Park where you'll find flocks of shorebirds gathering and feeding.

Where
Hunter Wetlands National Park
Price
Free
Opening times

Stockton sandspit is always open but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.

What to
bring
Hat, sunscreen, drinking water
Please note
Remember to take your binoculars if you want to birdwatch.

Just north of Stockton Bridge, just 12km from Newcastle, is a birdwatching haven you have to see to believe. At Stockton sandspit you’ll find masses of long-legged shore birds – often hundreds at a time – gathering and feeding in the mangrove-ringed mud flats of the Hunter River estuary.

Visit at low tide to experience the sandspit in maximum activity. Look for flocks of red-necked avocets, foraging ibis and bitterns, and stilts wading or standing on one leg.

Come in summer to see staggering numbers of migratory birds, many of which are protected under international agreements. Some of these birds originate in the northern hemisphere, and then rest and feed at the sandspit before repeating their long flights home. Whilst birdwatching, see if you can spot the bar-tailed godwit. This large wader makes the longest-known non-stop flight of any bird – an unbelievable 11,000km from Alaska to Australia.

Bring your binoculars, telescope or camera and don’t forget the kids – they’ll enjoy this Stockton attraction as much as the sandpipers do. And the pelicans. And the terns. And the curlews.

For directions, safety and practical information, see visitor info

Current alerts in this area

There are no current alerts in this area.

Local alerts

For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/birdwatching-and-wildlife-facilities/stockton-sandspit/local-alerts

Park info

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Stockton sandspit.

Getting there and parking

Stockton sandspit is in the Stockton precinct of Hunter Wetlands National Park. To get there:

  • Cross over the Stockton Bridge heading towards Stockton and Fern Bay
  • Turn right at the roundabout, still heading towards Stockton.
  • Turn right at your first opportunity, and then follow the road under the bridge where you can park.
  • Proceed on foot around the path for views of the mud flats

Road quality

  • Sealed roads

Vehicle access

  • 2WD vehicles

Weather restrictions

  • All weather

Parking

Parking is available beneath the bridge, a short walk from Stockton sandspit.

Best times to visit

There are lots of great things waiting for you in Hunter Wetlands National Park. Here are some of the highlights.

Autumn

With the weather mild, now is the time to get those bicycles out and ride the paths around Ash Island.

Spring

Pack a picnic to eat at Scotts Point or Riverside Park This is also the time you'll see the cream flowers of the mangroves .

Summer

This is the best time for birdwatching at Stockton Sandspit, as many of the migratory birds are here feeding. Make sure you're there at low-tide.

Weather, temperature and rainfall

Summer temperature

Average

20°C and 25°C

Highest recorded

42°C

Winter temperature

Average

10°C and 18°C

Lowest recorded

1.8°C

Rainfall

Wettest month

March

Driest month

November

The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day

283.7mm

Facilities

Carpark

Maps and downloads

Safety messages

Mobile safety

Dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency. Download the Emergency + app before you visit, it helps emergency services locate you using your smartphone's GPS. Please note there is limited mobile phone reception in this park and you’ll need mobile reception to call Triple Zero (000).

River and lake safety

The aquatic environment around rivers, lakes and lagoons can be unpredictable. If you're visiting these areas, take note of these river and lake safety tips.

Prohibited

Pets

Pets and domestic animals (other than certified assistance animals) are not permitted. Find out which regional parks allow dog walking and see the pets in parks policy for more information.

Smoking

NSW national parks are no smoking areas.

Nearby towns

Cessnock (34 km)

Some of the finest wines in the world are created in the Hunter Valley and its towns, gourmet food is acclaimed and luxury, boutique accommodations are matched by the most beautiful natural scenery.

www.visitnsw.com

Charlestown (12 km)

Charlestown lies just 12 km south of Newcastle. It's a key town centre at the northern end of Lake Macquarie.

www.visitnsw.com

Newcastle (5 km)

Newcastle is a harbour city surrounded by amazing surf beaches that are linked by a great coastal walk, the Bathers Way. The walk from Nobbys Beach to Merewether Beach takes about three hours and is a great way to explore the city.

www.visitnsw.com

Learn more

Stockton sandspit is in Hunter Wetlands National Park. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

All-ages adventure

Stockton Sandspit lookout, Hunter Wetlands National Park. Photo: Susan Davis

The action all starts at Riverside Park. Here, you'll find a picnic area and paths leading off around Ash Island. They're all flat and wide, so perfect for getting kids on their bikes for some fresh air. Take a walk through the wetlands and identify different species of birds. Head to the deepwater jetty and do some fishing. There's quite the underwater bounty around here and, whether your spot is the jetty or the river foreshores, you can haul in flathead, whiting, tailor and bream.

  • Rainforest walk to Riverside Park Rainforest walk to Riverside Park, near Newcastle, is suitable for walking or cycling and crosses Ash Island, ending by the river where you can fish and birdwatch.
  • Riverside Park The family-friendly Riverside Park, near Newcastle, is the perfect base for cycling, walking, fishing and birdwatching on Ash Island.
  • Scotts Point Way to Riverside Park trail Enjoy an easy walk or bike ride along the river on the Scott Point to Riverside Park trail, Ash Island, as it takes you past excellent spots for fishing and birdwatching.

Early evidence

World War II Radar Station, Hunter Wetlands National Park. Photo: Susan Davis

Get a taste of some of the area's history. From the picnic area at Riverside Park, you can walk through the Kooragang City Farm precinct and find the ruins of the farmhouse and dairy built by William Milham, who ran a property here with the first European owner of Ash Island, AW Scott. Also on the island is a heritage-listed World War II radar 'igloo'.

  • Rainforest walk to Riverside Park Rainforest walk to Riverside Park, near Newcastle, is suitable for walking or cycling and crosses Ash Island, ending by the river where you can fish and birdwatch.
  • Scotts Point Way to Riverside Park trail Enjoy an easy walk or bike ride along the river on the Scott Point to Riverside Park trail, Ash Island, as it takes you past excellent spots for fishing and birdwatching.

Feather bluster

Sunset over Hunter Wetlands National Park. Photo: Susan Davis

The Hunter River and its estuaries are home to a number of habitats - freshwater wetlands, mangroves and coastal rainforest among them - making the area a haven for birdlife. More than 200 species of birds live here or pass through on their migration. Head to Stockton Sandspit, where shorebirds - plovers, oystercatchers and curlews, to name a few - roost and feed on the mud flats. Along the river foreshore, you'll also likely see pelicans, spoonbills, black swans and, sweeping over the water searching for fish, sea eagles and swamp harriers.

World-class wetlands

Wetlands, Hunter Wetlands National Park. Photo: Susan Davis

Hunter Wetlands National Park makes up part of the Hunter Estuary Wetlands Ramsar site (the Ramsar convention recognises wetlands of international importance). This peaceful area is important for many species of birds, including 45 that migrate internationally. The green and golden bell frogs, both threatened species, breed in the freshwater lagoons. The mangroves here also provide maternity roosts for tiny bats, including the eastern free-tail bat.

  • Rainforest walk to Riverside Park Rainforest walk to Riverside Park, near Newcastle, is suitable for walking or cycling and crosses Ash Island, ending by the river where you can fish and birdwatch.
  • Riverside Park The family-friendly Riverside Park, near Newcastle, is the perfect base for cycling, walking, fishing and birdwatching on Ash Island.

Education resources (1)

School excursions (2)

Stockton Sandpit Lookout, Hunter Wetlands National Park. Photo: Susan Davis/NSW Government