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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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  • Fishing – Fresh Water

    Mr Fishing Adventures

    Fishing Charter/Guiding operation.

  • Ski & snowboard

    Turoa Ski Area

    Turoa Ski Area lies on the southwestern slopes of Mount Ruapehu. It has the longest vertical descent of any ski area in Australasia and also boasts New Zealand’s highest chairlift - the Highnoon Express.

  • Boutique & Lodge

    Kauri Point Homestay

    Luxury Lodge accommodation enjoying uninterrupted views of an ancient dormant volcano, Mount Tauhara. Arrive as a guest, leave as a friend. Relax and be spoilt from the moment you arrive. From sunrise to sunset your stay will be unforgettable.

    $250 - $375 Book now
  • Holiday homes

    Botanical Hideaway

    Just as the name suggests, “Botanical Hideaway” is a tranquil oasis surrounded by trees, and backing onto the stunning Botanical Gardens. Private and peaceful, the only sound you will hear is that of birds singing.

    $180 - $500 Book now
  • Hiking trails

    Waikato River Walking Track

    This shared-use track starts at the Huka Falls carpark and ends at Otupo Flat.

  • Gifts & souvenirs

    Stardust Creations

    Stardust Creations is a family-owned gift store stocking a huge range of products including crystals and gemstones, Himalayan salt lamps, ornaments including animals, buddhas, fairies and dragons, and candles and incense.

  • Restaurants

    Lakeland House Restaurant

    Near Tokaanu, right on the lake’s edge at the southern end, you’ll find excellent food, service and atmosphere at Lakeland House at Braxmere.

  • Homewares & decor

    MCF Interiors

    MCF Interiors - for luxury gift ideas and quality imported and New Zealand goods for the home.

  • Food & drink

    Raw Balance

    Raw Balance is a raw food deli in Oruanui Street, specialising in delicious raw takeaway foods, all gluten-free, dairy-free and free of refined sugar.

  • Cycling & mountain biking

    Craters Mountain Bike Park

    Craters Mountain Bike Park is a purpose-built mountain bike park located only a short distance from Taupo town, with trails ranging from children’s entry level to technical cross country and downhill trails.

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