Best ways to spend New Year’s Eve on Sydney Harbour

Sydney fireworks

Time is running out people… even the most disorganised among us should have started wondering how we should spend New Year’s Eve.

If you are planning on being in Sydney for the first time and maybe only time, you are probably even more keen to get your plans sorted. If you already know what you want to check out the detailed information, including what’s still available, check out my main NYE page

Still not sure? Then ask yourself the following questions….

Do you want to see the fireworks in the great outdoors?

If the answer is yes, you have two choices

A. Plan to visit one of the free NYE areas and take your own picnic

If you are hoping for a cheap night under the stars, you will need to be organised and plan to get to your viewing spot early. There are both alcohol-free areas and a limited number of areas where you can bring your own drinks along. There are also catered areas where you can buy drinks. Drinks at these spots are pretty pricey, but it does mean the crowd is a little less rowdy than the BYO places.


B. Part with some $$$ for a ticket to one of the catered outdoor areas.

This will get you a prime position and a little more standing room per person. Among the best of these are the Opera Bar Party, the Taronga Zoo NYE 2016 packages ($165-$500) or the offerings in the Royal Botanic Gardens. Be aware most of these go on sale in October and nearly sold out.

Do you want to watch the fireworks from the harbour?

There are a few options here…

A. Join a family and budget friendly BYO outing with Beyond the Wharf and Sydney Harbour Ferries

Sydney Harbour fireworks Ferry view

Priced a lot more reasonably than most harbour cruises this is a BYO affair. There are two sailings; you choose between either the 9 pm show or the midnight fireworks shows. Along with being alcohol-free, there are four pickup points, so you need not trek into Circular Quay if you live close to one of the other locations. The website gives clear details of where the ferries will be for the fireworks shows. The departure points are Rose Bay, Manly, Meadowbank and Circular Quay. Tickets priced from $125 for kids on the 8 pm ferry to $200 for all 11 pm tickets.
Thanks to Beyond the wharf I was a guest on the Rose Bay ferry a few years ago and really enjoyed it.

b. Book on a cruise with a meal and drinks package

These start from about $350 and go all the way to $800+ with buffets, à la carte menus and BBQ’s. Most deals include a basic drinks package.

The following operators are best known;

c. Hire a water taxi or rent boat and sail yourself.

  • Yellow Water Taxis are offering tickets for a spot on the harbour for the 9 pm family fireworks show for only $175 adult and $99 for kids. Midnight $350
  • Water Taxi’s combined have various packages, it’s best to contact them directly.
  • You can rent a vessel from Sydney Harbour escapes – They have boats for from 4 to 800 and lots of individually ticketed boats available.

Would you like to watch the fireworks from inside the Opera House?

The Sydney Opera House has a couple of events each year. There is an Opera Australia performance on NYE with drinks served at midnight watching the fireworks. Visit the Sydney Opera House website for details.

Do you want to dance the night away but see watch them big show at midnight?

There is a variety of dance party options each year including venues like Luna Park, Opera bar and other harbour-side bars and clubs. Check the list on this post for more details

Have you booked your room?

NYE is the busiest time of year for booking accommodation in Sydney. You do need to book months in advance if you want to stay in the inner city area and most hotels have a minimum stay requirement.


  1. Hello there, any news on potentioan bars clubs where we can view the dispays outside aswell? thank you

    • Hi Simon,
      You could try Cruise Bar at Circular Quay. It is right on the waterfront at the Overseas Passenger Terminal. Otherwise mingle with the crowds at any of the Rocks pubs then walk out to the street for the main event. Be warned though it gets really squashy and pretty rowdy in the Rocks pubs on NYE

  2. I have never been to Sydney before but hope to make it there for a visit one of these days. Sounds like New Year’s might be a great time to visit as long as you plan ahead.

  3. NYE Under the Stars was an inaugural event – maybe next year will be better…

    Food queues – as if it wasn’t bad enough to have to wait nearly an hour in the main food queue, imagine to then see trays of food being taken out amongst the crowd. The food on these was snapped up before the server had a chance to walk very far. A great idea in concept re RSA but given the stationary queue for the food, surely the food could’ve gone to the stall?
    Drinks queue – this moved quickly and the staff were friendly
    Toilet queue – how on earth did anyone think that 20 toilets + 1 disabled toilets would be enough for a capacity of 1,500??!?!? It’s lucky this was a mature and respectful crowd as otherwise, it could easily have kicked off with the frustration of this.
    Food & Drinks – Good enough food once you got it although the sandwich was more bread than filling; Not a large selection of drinks, the measures were small and a 4 drink limit would have been better than 3
    Staff – The people collecting rubbish, at the entry gate and those at the oyster and drinks counters were great but those at the food stall were stressed out by the lack of food.

    Of the 5 hours there, I wouldn’t be surprised if half of it was spent in a queue and that’s not what I had in mind for a great night out. Having had a far superior experience at Midnight at the Oasis last year, that is certainly the one I’d be recommending to friends in the future

    • Thanks Karrie for sharing your experience. I hope you have also shared it with the event organisers. As you said being the first year hopefuly they will learn from this. I was on a ferry with Beyond the Wharf and except for the complete lack of alcohol (which had it’s benefits) it was great.

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