Photo Blog: Road Scenes from Tongariro NP to Rotorua

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:

Miles of open pastureland line both sides of the highway, but on the left stands Ruapehu. And it is once again cloaked in clouds. Once I hit Ohakune on state highway 49, I see a large, bright orange, vertical structure. As I get closer, I can't help but laugh out loud because it's a carrot! Must stop. I'm not the only one; other tourists are just as intrigued as I. We don't say a word to each other, but we're all obviously amused as we smilingly look at each other while taking pictures and reading the informational plaque, It seems Ohakune has soil ideal for growing a number of vegetables. Before the 1930s, the Chinese came and cleared the land in exchange for use of the land for three years, after which the land was returned to the farmer for pasture. During World War II, farmers were busy as vegetables grown here were sent to troops fighting in the Pacific.

Miles of open pastureland line both sides of the highway, but on the left stands Ruapehu. And it is once again cloaked in clouds. Once I hit Ohakune on state highway 49, I see a large, bright orange, vertical structure. As I get closer, I can't help but laugh out loud because it's a carrot! Must stop. I'm not the only one; other tourists are just as intrigued as I. We don't say a word to each other, but we're all obviously amused as we smilingly look at each other while taking pictures and reading the informational plaque, It seems Ohakune has soil ideal for growing a number of vegetables. Before the 1930s, the Chinese came and cleared the land in exchange for use of the land for three years, after which the land was returned to the farmer for pasture. During World War II, farmers were busy as vegetables grown here were sent to troops fighting in the Pacific.

Other than having to endure freezing temperatures, the sheep really do have it made.

Other than having to endure freezing temperatures, the sheep really do have it made.

This curious fellow allowed me this one shot, then alerted his buddies and trotted off to join the rest of the flock. I guess there aren't many people who randomly stop to take pictures of these guys. 

This curious fellow allowed me this one shot, then alerted his buddies and trotted off to join the rest of the flock. I guess there aren't many people who randomly stop to take pictures of these guys. 

Blue skies + a two-lane open road = bliss!

Blue skies + a two-lane open road = bliss!

Here's the shot I was waiting for. A flock of resting sheep with Ruapehu as the ultimate backdrop. 

Here's the shot I was waiting for. A flock of resting sheep with Ruapehu as the ultimate backdrop. 

I couldn't be any happier! Jason Aldean accompanies me as we sing one country song after another on an open road beneath a beautiful sky.

I couldn't be any happier! Jason Aldean accompanies me as we sing one country song after another on an open road beneath a beautiful sky.

Nearly 50 miles later in Waiouru this sign pops up along the highway. Just down the road is a gas station with a convenience store and restroom. I love New Zealanders' sense of humor!

Nearly 50 miles later in Waiouru this sign pops up along the highway. Just down the road is a gas station with a convenience store and restroom. I love New Zealanders' sense of humor!

I'm not sure if this is all there is to Waiouru, but as of this minute I don't care. Priority #1: restroom and food!

I'm not sure if this is all there is to Waiouru, but as of this minute I don't care. Priority #1: restroom and food!

I have to say that New Zealanders certainly have it made. Hot gourmet pies in a gas station convenience store? And they only cost $3.30 to less than $5? Compared to the spam musubi in Hawaii which is smaller and about the same price—well, let me tell you there is no comparison! Bacon & Egg, Thai Chicken Curry, New York Pepper Steak...I can't make up my mind...

I have to say that New Zealanders certainly have it made. Hot gourmet pies in a gas station convenience store? And they only cost $3.30 to less than $5? Compared to the spam musubi in Hawaii which is smaller and about the same price—well, let me tell you there is no comparison! Bacon & Egg, Thai Chicken Curry, New York Pepper Steak...I can't make up my mind...

Dahling, might you have a Chicken Brie & Cranberry or Chicken Caesar Salad sandwich? Seriously. Brie? I think 7-Eleven needs to research the offerings available in convenience stores here, take notes and try them (at the same prices) in Hawaii.

Dahling, might you have a Chicken Brie & Cranberry or Chicken Caesar Salad sandwich? Seriously. Brie? I think 7-Eleven needs to research the offerings available in convenience stores here, take notes and try them (at the same prices) in Hawaii.

So I opt for the Beef Burgundy. It doesn't look too great here, but it was hot and delicious and hit the spot! After leaving the gas station, I stop the car on the side of the road, turn on the emergency flashers, and eat. Okay, scarf down is more like it. The aroma was simply too much, plus I was hungry.

So I opt for the Beef Burgundy. It doesn't look too great here, but it was hot and delicious and hit the spot! After leaving the gas station, I stop the car on the side of the road, turn on the emergency flashers, and eat. Okay, scarf down is more like it. The aroma was simply too much, plus I was hungry.

As I sit in the car, gray clouds roll in and the air temp takes a dip. After Waiouru, I'm now on state highway 1 surrounded on both sides by Rangipo Desert. This stretch of road is known as the "Desert Road." On the New Zealand Touring Map, it reads, "On a clear day, you'll enjoy spectacular views of the mountains and the volcanic terrain that surrounds them." Um, the environment for the next few miles is definitely lackluster.

As I sit in the car, gray clouds roll in and the air temp takes a dip. After Waiouru, I'm now on state highway 1 surrounded on both sides by Rangipo Desert. This stretch of road is known as the "Desert Road." On the New Zealand Touring Map, it reads, "On a clear day, you'll enjoy spectacular views of the mountains and the volcanic terrain that surrounds them." Um, the environment for the next few miles is definitely lackluster.

Photo op! I stop to try a selfie, but no luck. It's too darn cold to fuss with the positioning of the camera on the car hood. Plus you can't tell, but there's a dip between the road and grass that makes for a crooked picture.

Photo op! I stop to try a selfie, but no luck. It's too darn cold to fuss with the positioning of the camera on the car hood. Plus you can't tell, but there's a dip between the road and grass that makes for a crooked picture.

On the shores of Lake Taupo. This time round, I make it a point to stop and take a breather. Lots of parking spaces right off the main road make it easy and the grassy shoreline is inviting. It's a nice picnic spot. As it is, I appreciate the peaceful area by snapping away.

On the shores of Lake Taupo. This time round, I make it a point to stop and take a breather. Lots of parking spaces right off the main road make it easy and the grassy shoreline is inviting. It's a nice picnic spot. As it is, I appreciate the peaceful area by snapping away.

During summer, I'm sure the lakeside is packed with people. In winter, resident wildlife have the space all to themselves.

During summer, I'm sure the lakeside is packed with people. In winter, resident wildlife have the space all to themselves.

This male Paradise Shelduck, or Putangitangi, is described as a "goose-like duck" on creel.co.nz. The site says that males emit a deep "klonk-klonk" while females reply with a high-pitched "zik-zik." I guess there weren't any females nearby because this fellow was busy dining.

This male Paradise Shelduck, or Putangitangi, is described as a "goose-like duck" on creel.co.nz. The site says that males emit a deep "klonk-klonk" while females reply with a high-pitched "zik-zik." I guess there weren't any females nearby because this fellow was busy dining.

As I near the hot bed of Rotorua, I'm greeted by this friendly owl whom I haven't seen in a while. I'm almost "home"! I'm back at the Accolade Lodge Motel for two more days before heading to Auckland via a roundabout route. More on that later. 

As I near the hot bed of Rotorua, I'm greeted by this friendly owl whom I haven't seen in a while. I'm almost "home"! I'm back at the Accolade Lodge Motel for two more days before heading to Auckland via a roundabout route. More on that later.