--- Gareth and Helen travelled the world! --- travel blog

Extreme bad weather! Even the signs are telling us!

Thanks - good to know. Desert Road is often closed - it's...

The weather was abysmal. We took some shots to give you a...

Climbing up into the central plateau. The weather is getting worse and...

Rising up! The weather is dire. Don't forget we're in a huge...

You don't have to be a brain surgeon to work out what's...

Typical NZ. Beautiful area. Lots of pylons and pipelines. Still.

At the top of the plateau we are rewarded with great views....

Looking towards Ruapehu. The clouds are too low so you can't see...

Over to the left a huge storm brews up. The weather changed...

The storm continues to build in front of us. The contrasting light...

Fantastic. The desert landscape with the hills in the distance. The pylons,...

The desert sweeps past us.

The storm is catching us up. Get ready for severe weather!

The heavens open. The desert gets another soaking.

The full force of New Zealand's weather hits us head on! But...

The clouds lift for a second to allow us to get this...

Ruapehu District!

The summit of the desert. Now to get to the bottom in...

We leave the weather behind as we descend from the plateau.

Look! Normal green grass! We exit from the desert.

51 years ago the side of Ruapehu blew and took out the...

It's what it's all about. Sheep, sheep and more sheep. 48 million...

A waterfall just off highway 4.

Extreme close-up. Just after the storm... The water is dirty and bloated.

The bridge at Wanganui. For a bit we thought the bus wouldn't...


Over the next 48 hours Gareth drove about 800 miles. It was huge - but great fun!

We started off with the idea of driving to New Plymouth across the country, but as Helen's Mother had shown an interest in the volcanoes south of Taupo we thought we'd investigate. The weather was dire, but then it pretty much always is, and you can't let these things stop you can you? So (Maps out) we headed down Higway 1 through the national park, past the two volcanoes (I'm not even going to attempt to spell it from the top of my head! It's such a shame because the visibility was so bad at altitude. We've tried to take photos, and we hope you like them, but really, they're not great :-(. Mind you, some of them are quite dramatic in the rain!

This area is called Desert Road - which we could see why. It is very much like the stretch between Vegas and LA. Just raining too.

From there we cut across and then took highway 4 down to Wanganui. From there we bounced up to New Plymouth on Highway 3.

We were really looking forward to seeing Mt. Egmont (Mt. Fiji lookalike), but we just couldn't see it!

It got silly - even we we got really close we still couldn't see it - the rain was still giving it some! So in frustration we left the main highway and drove right towards the (now dormant) volcano. Even as we started going 'up hill' we still couldn't see it. We started climbing up and up, going past 'Alpine lodges' but still we couldn't see anything that resembled a mountain or a volcano. We carried on up and started winding up this really steep hill. Where is this damn thing??

Then we turned a corner, and just below a load of cloud, we saw the base of this thing. It it is HUGE. Almost frightening. You suddenly realise that you are at the bottom of a massive volcano of which you can only see the bottom. Then the road ended and all there was was a dead end carpark. It was soo huge at the base that it was almost too much to look at. Thoughts of Mt. St. Helens were flying through our heads. We got photos then got down to the base. It really spun us out. Gareth felt very relieved to be down on the ground. It was very sureal up there. Too much was left to the imagination!

From there we headed up to New Plymouth.



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