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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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  • Hotels

    Quality Suites Huka Falls Taupo

    Quality Suites™ Huka Falls is situated in an area of spectacular natural beauty. Conveniently located just a 20-minute drive from Taupo Airport, and a short five-minute drive from the heart of Taupo Central.

    $119 - $499 Book now
  • Bus & coach transport

    Taupo Private Tours and Transfers

    Premium transfer and touring company located in the Taupo region offering luxury vehicle / driver options for airport transfers, half day or full day touring.

    $90 - $1,100
  • Business & professional services

    Taupo Health Centre

    Community focused Health Centre with a shared duty roster for 7 days a week service and medical support with other health care providers in Taupō.

  • Bed & breakfast

    Twynham at Kinloch

    Nestled within large private gardens in the picturesque lakeside village of Kinloch - Twynham is unequalled as a base for exploring the delights of the Taupo region. Coffee, cake and relaxation.

    $175 - $255
  • Takeaways & bakeries

    The Fish Box

    The Fish Box was born out of a passion to cook the classic kiwi takeaway in the best possible way.

  • Geothermal

    Tokaanu Thermal Walk

    See steaming hot mineral pools and spluttering mud pools on this short, easy walk.

  • Venues & accommodation

    Hilton Lake Taupo conferences

    From its spectacular vantage point, Hilton Lake Taupo commands views over shimmering Lake Taupo and beyond, to where majestic mountains dominate the skyline.

  • Mountain biking

    Great lake trail Accommodation & Transport package

    2 nights BnB accommodation and all transport to mountain bike the Great lake trail over 2 days including the boat transfer for Waihaha on day 1 and the K2K and W2K sections on day 2.

    $399 - $499
  • Motels

    Camellia Court Family Motel Taupo

    We are an affordable motel in Taupo. We have an assortment of motel and backpacker type cabin units. The motels are fully self contained.

    $40 - $255 Book now
  • Motels

    Creel Lodge Motel

    19 quiet garden suites set in park-like grounds. Private access to famous Tongariro trout fishing river. 45 minutes to Ruapehi Ski Fields, 5 minutes to Tokannu hotpools, kayaking, restaurants, rafting. Wi-Fi, air conditioned

    $140 - $190
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