While most Aussies are still coming to terms with the recent arrival of winter, one of the world’s most majestic creatures – the southern humpback whale – is meanwhile enjoying the change of season as it begins its northerly migration from Antarctica to the warmer, tropical waters of Australia.

From Port Stephens to the Gold Coast and the Redcliffe Peninsular, Oaks Hotels & Resorts has revealed the top spots to sight whales this winter for those looking to combine a thrilling whale-watching experience with a mid-week or weekend winter escape.

From early June to November, the pristine ‘blue water paradise’ of Port Stephens on New South Wales’ mid-north coast transforms into a whale-watching hot spot, welcoming hundreds of the magnificent marine mammals to its sheltered waters. Port Stephens is home to the largest and most scenic marine park in New South Wales and a fleet of luxurious vessels offering myriad whale watching and bottlenose dolphin encounters, including the award-winning Moonshadow Cruises. Make Oaks Lure or Oaks Pacific Blue Resort your base, both of which are located just five minutes from the Nelson Bay marina, where cruises depart daily. One-bedroom apartments start from $119 per night, featuring coastal décor, full kitchen facilities and access to the resorts’ impressive leisure facilities, including outdoor barbeque facilities at Oaks Lure and Australia’s largest swimming pool at Oaks Pacific Blue Resort.

For a uniquely Gold Coast escape, the seaside hub of Coolangatta provides holidaymakers with another chance to get up close and personal with spectacular marine life on their annual voyage. Hop on board Coolangatta Whale Watch’s beautiful 15-metre catamaran, complete with an upstairs viewing platform and onboard zoologist, for an exhilarating half-day cruise. For those who haven’t found their sea legs, Coolangatta’s beaches and foreshores also offer exceptional whale viewing opportunities, and for those seeking more active pursuits, take a walk to the celebrated Snapper Rocks headland from your base at Oaks Calypso Plaza overlooking Coolangatta Beach, where humpbacks are regularly spotted (and even a famous surfer tackling the ever popular surf break!). Guests of Oaks Calypso Plaza can visit a Queensland icon too, with a handful of surf clubs lining the foreshore and serving up all-Aussie meals, icy cold tap beer and a selection of Australian wines set against a stunning beachfront backdrop. The resort’s heated, lagoon-style swimming pool is also a major draw card for families visiting in winter. Stay in a self-contained one-bedroom apartment from just $149 per night.

Further north and just 30 minutes out of Brisbane, the Redcliffe Peninsular is also renowned as a whale-watching haven, perfect for those planning a weekend away and wanting to see the whales in Moreton Bay. Brisbane Whale Watching offers daily tours of the bay and surrounding islands, with a portion of every ticket sold donated to ongoing whale research. After a full day of whale spotting, retreat to Redcliffe’s premier seaside resort, Oaks Mon Komo – meaning “My Dream Place” from $179 per night – and soak in the panoramic ocean views from your private apartment balcony, café-hop along the promenade or enjoy an evening meal at the onsite Mon Komo Hotel.

To book your whale watching experience and for more information on Oaks Hotels & Resorts please visit www.oakshotelsresorts.com.

Terms and conditions apply; subject to availability; minimum two night stay applies. Book before 31 August 2015.

Oaks Hotels & Resorts is one of Australia’s largest self-contained, accommodation providers, currently incorporating a portfolio of 51 properties spanning Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South and Western Australia as well as New Zealand, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.

Minor Hotel Group (MHG) is a hotel owner, operator and investor, currently with a portfolio of 133 hotels, resorts, camps and serviced suites in operation under the Anantara, AVANI, Per AQUUM, Oaks, Tivoli, Elewana, Marriott, Four Seasons, St. Regis and Minor International brands. Today MHG operates in 22 countries across Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, the Indian Ocean, Europe and South America. For more information, please visit www.minorinternational.com.