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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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  • Markets & specialty food

    Luna’s Gelateria

    Taupo’s best gelato and sorbet! With heaps of flavours to pick from there is no better place to treat yourself!

  • Boutique & Lodge

    The Lakeview House

    Luxury Accommodation in Taupo and so much more. Welcome to The Lakeview House, one of Lake Taupo’s premier iconic properties, sitting high above Lake Taupo in the private Grandview Estate at Acacia Bay, Taupo.

    $950 - $1,150 Book now
  • Motels

    Oasis Motel

    Oasis has Motels, cabin rooms and campsite, oasis also Hot Natural geothermal pools open 24 hours a day and free when staying, also open to the public at a cost, Oasis has a shop on site and a breakfast restaurant. WiFi internet available.

    $44 - $120
  • Cafes

    Hare and Copper Eatery and Bar

    Hare and Copper offer a great range of food and beverages people can enjoy in a beautiful setting, with exceptional customer service to ensure they have a truly memorable experience.

  • Restaurants

    Taupo Cosmopolitan Club

    Located near the largest of New Zealands lakes, the Taupo Cosmopolitan Club has over 7700 members.

  • Cafes

    The Dam Cafe

    Enjoy damn good coffee, fresh scones, muffins, light meals, real fruit smoothies and clean rest rooms.

  • Scenic attractions

    #LoveTaupo lettering

    Do you #LOVETAUPO? Located on Taupo's lakefront, the #LOVETAUPO lettering has quickly become an icon of the town and a must-stop photo spot.

  • Homewares & decor

    Noel Leeming Taupo

    Noel Leeming Taupo has been proudly operating from this site for over 10 years now.

  • Bus & coach transport

    Backyard Tours - Custom Transport Tours

    Nau mai Hāere mai - Welcome to our backyard. Visitor's journey is ensured whilst enjoying views and scenic historical sights in and around Turangi, Lake Taupō and the Tongariro National Park. Choice of activities or café styles can be added too.

    $70 - $90 Book now
  • Ski & snowboard

    Tukino Ski Field

    Tukino Ski Field is a club-operated ski field located on the eastern slopes of Mt Ruapehu. It is open to the public and operates just like a small commercial field.

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