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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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  • Health & wellness

    Empower Fitness

    Empower Fitness offers the largest full gym facility in Taupo with 24-hour gym access and a selection of group fitness classes including the world renowned Les Mills programmes.

  • Hair salons

    Havargo

    Welcome to Havargo, Lake Taupō, New Zealand. We are a boutique hair salon with a strong focus on pampering you and providing the very finest in service and hairdressing.

  • Food & drink

    Gourmet Goodies

    Home-made jams, marmalades & baking, scrapbook & craft supplies, personal products & gifts delivered to your door any where in New Zealand.

  • Attractions

    Lilliput Farm - Fun and Animal Park

    Lilliput offers a wonderful hands-on animal experience for all the family, in a peaceful setting. There is plenty for the children to do with fun playground activities and all our animals to feed and learn about. Bring a picnic and relax.

    $10 - $12
  • Art galleries

    Pihanga Art Gallery

    Showcasing and selling paintings, ceramics, sculpture, fibre art, jewelry, Harakeke flax art and woodturning created by a group of artists living in the Turangi Tongariro area.

  • 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.

  • Bike retail & repair

    BikeSale

    The go-to bike shop for great deals and affordable prices.

  • Restaurants

    Lone Star

    Located at 24 Roberts Street in a stunning, purpose built building, Lone Star Taupo offers spectacular views over the Great Lake to Mount Ruapehu.

  • Hiking trails

    Pukawa Bay Walks

    Walk through ancient forest, experience spectacular lake vistas, and enjoy constant birdsong on a variety of walks on the southwestern shores of Lake Taupo.

  • Takeaways & bakeries

    Burgerfuel Taupo

    Because we believe that life is too short to eat bad burgers, we cook’ em and prepare’ em while you wait, to bring you a healthy, built fresh alternative in gourmet fast food.

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