Note: I originally traveled to New Zealand in August 2013, wrote this post at a later date, but never posted it. So here it is.
An unfamiliar two-lane road is always an open invitation. Who wants to take the quickest route back to Rotorua? Not me. Instead, I'm amped to drive around Mt. Ruapehu, admiring its cloud-enshrouded beauty from all sides, and anticipate taking the Volcanic Loop via state highways 47, 4, 49 and 1.
Here's a snapshot of the drive: