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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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  • Boat cruises

    Sail Fearless - Māori Carvings Sailing Tour

    "Be Fearless" and take an amazing sailing trip on Great Lake Taupo, sailing to the Maori Rock carvings. It's a great affordable and family friendly cruise.

    $39 - $59 Book now
  • Restaurants

    McDonald's

    I'm Lovin' it Taupo, New Zealand, has the honor of being home to the only McDonald's location that includes a decommissioned DC3 plane as part of the store.

  • Bars

    The Deck

    The Deck, delivering the best vibes in Taupo! We’re the only bar in town that’ll give you panoramic views of Taupo's lake and mountains.

  • Taupo town

    Waipahihi Botanical Reserve

    Waipahihi Botanical Reserve is an amazing garden built with love, and is also a beautiful Taupo walk for the whole family.

  • Motels

    Phoenix Resort

    Situated on a picturesque rose garden, Phoenix Resort is within walking distance to the Great Lake Taupo and the city centre.

    $100 - $300 Book now
  • Health & beauty

    Street Fashion European Hair Design Studio

    Located in the Taupo town centre, Street Fashion European Hair Design Studio is a new, specialised hair studio for those who want the latest trends in hair styling.

  • Boutique & Lodge

    Whakaipo Lodge

    TripAdvisor Travellers' Choice 2019 & 2018 Award Winners & Supreme Winner of 2020, 2018 & 2016 NZ B&B Association Excellence Awards. Stunning location, luxury accommodation, fab food & wine and an authentic boutique lodge experience near the lake.

    $295 - $425 Book now
  • Cycling & mountain biking

    Waikato River Trails

    Mountain bikers can explore a series of trails along New Zealand's longest river - the mighty Waikato River. The trails cover about 100 kilometres of previously inaccessible Southern Waikato land from Lake Karapiro to the Atiamuri Dam.

  • Restaurants

    Incredible India

    Incredible India Restaurant started with a determined vision of capturing the flavors, colors, and hospitality of the exquisite tradition and diverse culture that makes India.

  • Fashion & clothing

    Pointons Ski Shop

    Before you hit the slopes of New Zealand, make sure you head into Taupo’s premier ski and snowboard shop for all your snowboarding and skiing hire, products, advice and more!

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