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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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  • Maori culture

    Opotaka Historic Reserve

    Opotaka is a historical Māori pa site (fortified village) where you can learn about the history of the famous Ka Mate Haka, see the remains of the Māori settlement, and enjoy spectacular views across Lake Rotoaira to Mt Tongariro.

  • Holiday parks & campgrounds

    Lake Taupo Holiday Resort

    Lusty's Lagoon is NZ's only swim up bar and cafe with thermally heated swimming pools & giant movie screen, pump track, mini golf, tennis courts, playground & jumping pillows. Our family resort has a range of apartments, motels, cabins & sites.

    $47 - $870 Book now
  • Bed & breakfast

    Tongariro Adventures The Lodge

    Situated in the heart of Kuratau on the South West shore of Lake Taupo, our Tongariro Adventures Lodge provides our guests with comfort and space. Our Lodge is designed for you to relax and unwind after your Tongariro Adventure, whatever the season.

    $250 - $350 Book now
  • Markets & specialty food

    Constables Kitchen

    A locally owned family business offering a wide range of cakes and catering for any occasion. We hand-make all our products, from catering to cakes.

  • Holiday homes

    Parehopu Lake House - Taupo Holiday Home

    Had enough of the city? Feel the need to make some family memories? Or do you just need that weekend away by the Lake? Head to Parehopu Lake House.

    $140 - $349 Book now
  • Restaurants

    Rangitaiki Tavern

    Rangitaiki Tavern offers accommodation cabins, caravan sites, tent sites and camper van sites, toilets, cafe and restaurant & are enrolee to the bus stop.

  • Visitor Information Centre

    Turangi i-SITE Visitor Information Centre

    We provide a comprehensive, impartial information and booking service for Turangi Tongariro i-SITE (Destination Great Lake Taupo) and New Zealand for accommodation, activities, attractions and travel bookings.

  • Fashion & clothing

    Rebel Sports

    Rebel Sports Taupo has a huge range of sporting goods; sports equipment for everyone. Shop by brand, sport type or item.

  • Homewares & decor

    Briscoes

    Briscoe Group is a New Zealand retail chain. It has 90 stores throughout New Zealand trading under the Briscoes Homeware, Living & Giving, and Rebel Sport nameplates.

  • Business & professional services

    Harcourts Holiday Homes

    No one knows Taupō better! Taupō Holiday Homes are your specialist holiday letting agents with over 90 Taupō baches, apartments and holiday homes to offer.

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