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Mt Urchin, Kaimanawa Forest Park
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Kaimanawa Forest Park

Wild and ancient, the river-run mountains of the Kaimanawa Forest Park have long called to adventurers and hunters. Wild horses, sika and red deer roam the park, and the mostly untouched native beech forests are alive with native birds (including kiwi), insects, the large indigenous snail Powelliphanta marchanti, and native bats.

Lying to the south-east of Lake Taupo across the Kaimanawa Ranges, the vast park encompasses tussockland, native bush and shrubland. Visitors to the park can expect the unexpected, from the surprise appearance of a deer, wild horse, or recreational hunter, to New Zealand soldiers dropping in by helicopter to practice army manoeuvres in the park’s rugged terrain. 

There are beautiful forest walks for tramping, including one that leads to the rocky river canyon known as the Pillars of Hercules, and an easy forest loop with an unusual variety of native trees.

The Kaimanawa Heritage Horses

The park’s quiet, hardy mixed-breed wild horses have been living here since the late 1800s. After the New Zealand government declared them protected in 1981, the population grew so large they were endangering the natural ecosystem. The population is now maintained at around 300, with a bi-annual muster that aims to find homes for all the mustered horses.

Things to do in the Kaimanawa Forest Park

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  • Fashion & clothing

    The Warehouse

    Did you know nearly every New Zealander visits us at least once a year? That’s because everyone knows The Warehouse is... sing it with with us... "Where everyone gets a bargain."

  • Air transport

    Air New Zealand - Taupo

    Air New Zealand is New Zealand’s national carrier and the only airline which specialises in getting you to, from and around New Zealand.

    $79 - $300 Book now
  • Boutique & Lodge

    Acacia Heights Gardens

    Acacia Heights Gardens provides quiet B&B accommodation in spacious park-like grounds with wide rural and Lake Taupo views. Relax in the spa pool, retreat to the gazebo overlooking the lake, rest and recover from your travels in this peaceful oasis.

    $200 - $290 Book now
  • Holiday homes

    Lakeshore Loft Apartment

    Lakeshore Luxury Villa provides exclusive holiday accommodation within the scenic natural landscape of 'The Point', a 24-hectare secure and private conservation estate perched above the famous Maori Carvings, on the shores of beautiful Lake Taupo.

    $300 - $400 Book now
  • Holiday homes

    The Lakehouse

    The Lakehouse is the perfect place to escape to as a family or group of friends.

    $150 - $650 Book now
  • Restaurants

    Mole and Chicken Restaurant & Bar

    Delicious, honest, fresh cuisine at Taupo's Mole & Chicken. Go where the locals go and watch sports on the big screen, enjoy a meal, have a drink and take in the breathtaking views from the deck.

  • Cafes

    Fern Cafe

    Fully licenced Kiwi cafe with all food cooked on premises.

  • Scenic flights

    Taupo's Floatplane

    Flightseeing at its best! Discover NZ’s most scenic & spectacular vistas. Enjoy a unique flightseeing experience over Tongariro National Park, the Bay of Plenty and, of course, Great Lake Taupo! Scenic flights by seaplane are a magical way of gaining

    $109 - $870
  • Motels

    VU Thermal Lodge

    At one of the best locations in Taupo, we guarantees you to enjoy the beautiful view of lake and mountains; We have a thermal water bore on site, over 10 ground floor units have private thermal tubs/pools; a communal thermal house and a outdoor pool.

    $130 - $468 Book now
  • Biking trails

    Waihaha section of the Great Lake Trails

    Towering volcanic rock cliffs, spectacular views and a waterfall hidden deep in the Waihaha Valley are highlights of the Waihaha section.

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