Explore native forests and rivers in a large forest park. Short walks pass through a variety of native trees and experienced hikers will enjoy the challenging overnight tracks.
East of Tongariro National Park, the Kaimanawa Forest Park is a large area of ancient native forests, shrublands and tussock grasslands. Popular for hunting, fishing and overnight treks for experienced hikers, the park also offers shorter walks and picnic areas for day visits and short-term campers. There are several easy walks off Kaimanawa Road, 15 kilometres south of Turangi on State Highway 1. The Pillars of Hercules walk (10 minutes return) climbs steep steps to a spectacular gorge - the powerful Tongariro River passes through this narrow chasm. The viewing bridge offers views of Mount Urchin and sometimes a glimpse of the rare native whio (blue duck) upstream. The Kaimanawa Forest Road Walk, a 20-minute loop track, leaves from the Urchin camping area. This pleasant walk through the native forest is known for the variety of native trees it offers within such a small area. The Tree Trunk Gorge track also leaves from the Urchin camping area and is the only off-road track open to mountain bikers. The track ends at Tree Trunk Gorge Road, which is off State Highway 1. There are several other walking tracks located off Kiko Road in the northwest of the park and Clements Mill Road in the north.