Are you brave enough to come face-to-face with a red-eyed dragon? How about a teeth-gnashing T-rex? Or a flying pterosaur? Or, for all the arachnophobes, a giant creepy crawly spider? These are just some of the creatures you’ll encounter at the Hunter Valley Gardens’ Mega Creatures day and “Night Safari” event these April school holidays.

If you haven’t been to Mega Creatures in the past few years, it’s absolutely time you visit again. This event has grown in astronomical proportions – of the “MEGA” kind. You’ll now find more than 100 beasts throughout the gardens. There are myriad dinosaurs, giant insects, multiple arachnids, and several mystical beasts. And they’re all animatronic, so as you approach their tails swoosh, jaws widen to reveal rows of teeth, heads rotate, and eyelids open to look straight at their prey: you! Eeeek!

This year you’re also up for an incredible treat as the Hunter Valley Gardens has invited the team from Erth to perform every day across the school holidays. Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo™ is an imaginative, interactive show that invites kids to feed and touch Erth’s oh-so-lifelike dinosaurs.

The creators of Erth are also bringing their cute (and far less intimidating) baby dinosaurs to the Gardens for a wander. These lap-sized baby dinos are adorable and just begging for a pat.

And don’t forget that Mega Creatures can also be experienced in the evening. Seeing the glowing red eyes and biofluorescence of a giant brachiosaurus, three-headed dragon, sabre-tooth tiger and more is quite the spectacle. Remember the thrill of spotlight as a kid? Well, that’s the same feeling here – only way cooler. And if you have kids in that tween stage who are a little hard to please these days, then this event is a massive winner.

Get tickets to the Night Safari and see the Mega Creatures under the light of the moon

The hugely popular Night Safari event is also returning. At this special evening event, families can wander the grounds and see the Mega Creatures illuminated with lighting and enhancements – think glowing red eyes and biofluorescence! Seeing this fantastical land under the light of the moon brings a whole new dimension of wonder to the experience, and we absolutely loved it when we visited.

We thought our kids (then aged 5 and 7) might be a little freaked out to see these creatures at night, but they had an absolute ball and kept assuring us they weren’t scared – well, they admitted, maybe just a teeny tiny bit: just enough to excite. We also saw many two- and four-year-olds running around and showing no signs of fear. And believe me, when you come across the pod of brachiosaurus under the light of the moon, it all feels pretty special. Particularly when the daddy of the family is 16m long and 13m tall!

The dinosaurs are out of this world!

Dino enthusiasts absolutely love this event that invites visitors to come face to face with tonnes of life-sized animatronic dinosaurs.

We haven’t yet met a child who doesn’t love dinosaurs and the Hunter Valley Gardens has done an incredible job at bringing that passion and interest to the fore. You’ll get to meet all the classic favourites – T-rex, a triceratops, stegosaurus, and spinosaurus, plus a heap more. This year some brand new prehistoric visitors will be roaring across the gardens, too, including a Wuerhosaurus, Huayangosaurus and Dilophosaurus. If you have a really keen bean, each dinosaur also has a plaque that outlines their history and fun facts: read them to your kids and they’ll no doubt absorb it and regurg it back to you in years to come. They’re clever like that.

Ignite your child’s inner palaeontologist at the Fossil Find

Mini palaeontologists get an absolute kick out of entering the Hunter Valley Gardens’ Museum and being invited to dig for fossils. Under the shadow of a giant Brachiosaurus’s skeleton are four archaeological excavation pits that may contain fossilised bones. Grab a small broom and get sweeping in the sand to see what you uncover. I think our boys could have spent all evening here uncovering new fossils and imagining what type of bones they were and from which dinosaur they came.

Beware as you enter the Dragons Den!

For fantasy literature fans, the Gardens will feel like a fantastical wonderland of epic proportions – a place where two-headed dragons roam alongside winged beasts. Wander the gardens of the daytime and many of these beasts look friendly and playful – even reminiscent of the dog-like dragons from “How to Train Your Dragon”. Walk past those same beasts by moonlight though and they sit more in the league of Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings – cunning, evil, and most definitely not to be trusted.

There are other mega beasts to be spied, too

As well as the dragons and dinos, you’ll find a heap of mega beasts ranging from the ginormously cute to the prehistoric! Woolly mammoths and sabre-tooth tigers greet you in the gardens. Giant spiders lurk in a cobwebbed walk-through cave. And you’ll discover giant lady beetles, cicadas, bees, and caterpillars have taken up residence in the grounds, too.

Experience the gardens

We love visiting Hunter Valley Garden’s school holiday exhibits – from their winter snow festival to their Christmas lights display – but most of the time, we’re so busy enjoying their festivals that we don’t have a lot of time to enjoy the gardens themselves. A visit to the Mega Creatures exhibit through the day, though, offers the perfect opportunity to marvel at the Gardens, as the creatures are scattered throughout the grounds.

There are eight kilometres of walking paths winding through 14 hectares of gardens. It’s so beautiful and so relaxing – yep, even with the kids! You can easily spend an entire day here just soaking up the sunshine.

As if that weren’t enough, the Gardens’ famous rides will also be open every day and night throughout the event. There is an epic 35-metre-long Super Slide, a Ferris Wheel, swing chairs, a traditional Venetian Carousel and spinning teacups! Not to mention, a heap of food stalls selling everything from stuffed potatoes and pizza to hot cinnamon doughnuts and ice cream.

Get yourself tickets – you’ll love it!

Whether you visit through the day or night, you’re guaranteed a fantastic adventure at Mega Creatures these school holidays. We can’t recommend it enough. It’s fantastic. Go on, do it: your kids will love you for it, and you’ll have a heap of fun too.

Mega Creatures and Mega Creatures Night Safari at Hunter Valley Gardens

Where: The Hunter Valley Gardens, Pokolbin.

When: Saturday 6th April until Sunday 5th May 2024. Daytime event: 9am-4pm. Last entry 3pm. | Night Safari event: 5pm – 9pm. Last entry 8pm.

Entry CostDay OR Night entry: Adult (16+ yrs) $40. Children (4-15 yrs) $30. Children (3 yrs. & Under) FREE. Family (1ad+2ch) $93. Family (2ad+1ch) $99. Family (2ad+2ch) $122. COMBO (DAY / NIGHT) pass: Adult (16+ yrs) $58. Children (4-15 yrs) $47. Children (3 yrs. & Under) FREE. Family (1ad+2ch) $136. Family (2ad+1ch) $154. Family (2ad+2ch) $187. See website for more options.

Age group: All ages.

Ride costs: Each ride is $6 per person. Or you can purchase a 6-ride pass for $30 and get a bonus ride for free. Ride tickets are available for purchase in the event area at the Gardens.

Contact: 02 4998 4000,

This feature was created in partnership with Hunter Valley Gardens

Want to know what else is on these holidays? Click here for our lineup of the Central Coast’s best kids activities this April.


Founder & Editor

After working in print and online media for more than a decade, Katie launched Playing in Puddles in 2017. A mum of three young boys and local of the Central Coast, Katie loves discovering and sharing all that’s happening in our region.