The drive took us up the middle of the North Island, or perhaps we should say through the center of Middle Earth, to the land of the volcanoes. There are three active volcanoes in these parts, Mount Ruapehu, Mount Ngauruhoe, and Mount Tongariro.
|Mounts Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe|
|Mount Ngauruhoe rising from the desert floor|
As we reached the southern end of Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand, we cut west from Turangi to Taumaranui, crossing from the Desert Road (Route 1) to the King Country (Route 4). The view back to the mountain ranges put the three volcanoes into
|South-west end of Lake Taupo|
Lake Taupo, the largest fresh water lake in Oceana, is the crater created by as supervolcanic eruption which occurred approximately 26,500 years ago. It has some of the best trout fishing in the world. The geothermal activity in the area includes geysers, steaming craters, boiling mud pools and some of the largest silica terraces in the world. But more of that when we get to Rotorua!
|Grace below look out point on pass between routes 1 and 3.|
As we drove further northwest through the area known as the King Country to our destination, Waitomo, the scenery was striking, like something straight from the Hobbbit or Lord of the Rings. It is impossible to do justice to the views unless you are a professional photographer, but we tried below.