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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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  • Hair salons

    Mancraft Barbers

    Mancraft is the new age barbers and skincare for all men. Creating tailor made haircuts and customised skin solutions for the perfect healthy manly look.

  • Motels

    Lake Taupo Motor Inn

    Lake Taupo Motor Inn is situated just 400 m from the shores of Lake Taupo. Enjoy breathtaking lake and mountain views from many of our well-appointed apartments and suites.

    $140 - $300 Book now
  • Rafting

    White Water Rafting - Tongariro River Rafting

    Want the BEST possible rafting experience in the Taupo Region? We're the number one rated Taupo rafting experience on TripAdvisor. We've had over 230,000 customers in the last 27 years. Hands down this is the most fun in the Taupo region!

    $145 Book now
  • 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.

  • Golf

    The Kinloch Club Golf Course

    A Top 100 golf course, the Kinloch Club is a Championship inland links style Jack Nicklaus signature design. Measuring 6519 yards off the white tees, and 7363 yards off the Championship tees, Kinloch offers an exceptional golfing experience.

    $125 - $235 Book now
  • Food & Drink

    Riverside Restaurant - Huka Prawn Park

    Sit back beside the open fire, or dine alfresco on the banks of the Waikato River and treat yourself to a mouth-watering selection of food.

  • Holiday homes

    Serenity @ 6

    If you’re looking for serenity, look no further. The living area leads out to a beautiful covered entertaining area with an inviting spa-pool that can be used all year round.

    $300 - $650 Book now
  • Ferries & water taxis

    Taxicat Adventures

    A water taxi that connect you to Taupō's ‘happening’ spots this summer. Be connected to a family friendly local, a drink on the waters edge or Taupō's township.

    $15 - $60
  • Hiking trails

    Tongariro Northern Circuit

    Explore the volcanic heart of Tongariro National Park through a landscape of stark glacial contrasts and alpine views. Discover diverse landscapes ranging from mountain beech forest, tussock country and sculptured sands and volcanic rock on this 3 - 4 day Department of Conservation Great Walk.

  • Restaurants

    Tongariro Lodge Restaurant

    Enjoy a warm and unique fishing lodge and après ski atmosphere, with roaring fires in stone fireplaces, comfortable lounges and friendly staff waiting.

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