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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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  • Biking trails

    Te Iringa

    Te Iringa is a 38km long return mountain bike ride and one of the most technical grade 5 trails in New Zealand. For avid mountain bikers this is trail you must tick off your bucket list.

  • Maori culture

    Kai Waho

    Kai Waho is an experience that is shared in the true essence of ‘manaakitanga’ with all visitors interacting with all activities.

  • Hiking trails

    Kaimanawa Road short walks

    These two family short easy walks starting from Urchin Campsite at the end of Kaimanawa Road in the Kaimanawa Forest Park are perfect for families.

  • Scenic Flights

    Inflite Charters Taupo

    INFLITE Helicopters can transport you in comfort and style to everything that Taupo and the Central North Island has on offer. Experience the raw & natural beauty of Great Lake Taupo and its surrounds. Nothing beats an aerial view of this region.

    $99 - $695
  • Hiking trails

    Mt Urchin Track

    Mount Urchin offers an easily accessible wilderness of beautiful beech forest, incredible views and a real alpine environment.

  • Cycling & mountain biking

    Tree Trunk Gorge

    The Tree Trunk Gorge trail will take you on a picturesque journey through the Kaimanawa Forest Park. It passes through classic central North Island beech forest, across streams and rivers and over two impressive gorges as it tracks along the upper section of the Tongariro River.

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