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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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  • 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.

  • Gifts & souvenirs

    Jade Centre

    Jade Designs has the largest range of Jade products, specialising in traditional NZ designs.

  • Restaurants

    Osteria Taupo

    The Osteria group is a family-run restaurant group, with several locations throughout New Zealand including Matamata, Mount Maunganui, Taupo & Ohakune.

  • Travel Agent or Airline

    Cosy Kiwi Winter 12 Day Tour

  • Urban attractions

    Accessible New Zealand Partnership

    Our tours are specialized for travellers with physical disabilities and mature travellers. For travellers who want to enjoy the culture, scenery and adventure that comes with travelling but who may need assistance or extra care along the way.

    $600 - $10,000
  • Holiday homes

    The Ferns

    This comfortable holiday home offers value for money for larger groups. Set across 2 levels, you will not be short of space.

    $320 - $700 Book now
  • Venues & accommodation

    Great Lake Convention Centre

    Situated in the heart of Taupo town’s CBD, The Great Lake Centre provides an excellent base for many of the region’s unique and exciting activities, along with boutique shopping and awe inspiring scenery.

  • Gifts & souvenirs

    KiwiGifts

    Showcasing one of the best presentations of NZ gifts and souvenirs. An excellent range of garments and every type of souvenir imaginable.

  • Boat cruises

    Regal Flyer Luxury Charter Vessel Lake Taupo

    Enjoy the beautiful clear waters, sunshine and stunning views of Lake Taupo from the elegance of Regal Flyer. Up to 70 guests can enjoy the decadence of the Regal Flyer with a private charter.

    $600 - $1,850 Book now
  • Rafting

    Tongariro White Water - Rafting New Zealand

    The Tongariro Whitewater Grade 3 is our most popular adventure and thNZ's best half day rafting adventure - Our most popular trip - You'll raft over 50 plus exciting rapids, through a beautiful volcanic gorge & enjoy on river hot chocolate & snacks.

    $119 - $179 Book now
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