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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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  • Apartments

    Lake Views From 3 Mile Bay

    Near new apartment situated in the new Lakeside Subdivision at Rainbow Point. Sleeping for 4 guests - 2 bedrooms, plus 2 additional single sofa beds in living area. Total sleeping for 6. Full Kitchen facilities, own laundry & dryer. Min 2 nights stay

    $180 - $220
  • Holiday parks & campgrounds

    Taupo DeBretts Spa Resort

    Award winning 5-Star thermal resort-overlooking Lake Taupo/Tongariro National Park. With an exceptional range of accommodation. Big bounce air pad, free WIFI, hot springs & water park, water-playground & day spa to keep the whole family entertained.

    $30 - $450 Book now
  • Apartments

    Taupo Haven - Taupo Holiday Unit

    Taupo Haven is a lakeside 3 bedroom Taupo holiday unit with unlimited WiFi. Enjoying lake and mountain views from the sunny deck and garden, this modern holiday unit is a comfortable and convenient base for your next Taupo getaway.

    $160 - $454 Book now
  • 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.

  • Motels

    EMotel

    eMotel is a contemporary boutique motel perfectly situated beside the main town centre, on a quiet street, opposite a park and with lake views from each room. The Lakefront is only a few hundred metres away. The accommodation is superior luxury.

    $160 - $520 Book now
  • Restaurants

    Portofino Taupo

    Welcome to Portofino Taupo. Situated in stunning Taupo, warm, stylish interior, crisp service, knowledgeable waiters and authentic Italian cuisine are all served up against the backdrop of the beautiful city centre.

  • Boutique & Lodge

    Te Whare Ruruhau - exclusive wilderness cabin

    Exclusive wilderness retreat in pristine native bush accessible only by helicopter. Choose from one of our exquisitely hosted & catered packages. Disconnect to Reconnect - no roads, people, cell coverage or stress. Just Wild Perfection.

    $2,400 - $4,000
  • Wineries

    Crafty TROUT Brewery

    Explore and discover craft beer and cider using Alpine Volcanic water. Tours of the first fully automated brewing system in the world. A perfect indoor activity away from the weather.

    $30
  • Cycling & mountain biking

    42 Traverse

    Known as the greatest mountain bike ride in the North Island, the 42 Traverse follows an old logging road through some of the most remote and rugged land in New Zealand.

  • Holiday homes

    Tui Glen Boutique Holiday Accommodation

    Tui Glen is affordable luxury holiday home with private gardens and expansive views located on the shores of beautiful Lake Taupo. A great base as you visit the many central north island attractions.

    $200 - $400
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