With news that the temperature had dropped to minus 7 degrees C over the Desert Road, we weren’t in any hurry to leave Turangi early in the morning. (No wonder it was freezing cold). If we waited a while, the never ending stream of trucks would have been driving along the Desert Road and melted the ice for us, we reckoned. So we bid farewell to the chickens who were out and about in their run looking for breakfast and started on our way. In the shady areas there was ice glistening on the banks, we noticed, as we drove past, but luckily none left on the road.
And as usual, any trip over the Desert Road is worthy of a photo or two. Mt Ngauruhoe’s beautiful cone looked wonderful with a covering of snow.
And Mt Ruapehu always looks impressive. There has been an extra dump of snow since our trip up last week.
Lunch stop was in a lay-by at the top of Mangaweka Hill, plenty of room there for our two caravans. Here we came across a plaque from IPENZ (Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand). recognising the State Highway system as an important part of New Zealand’s engineering heritage. “State Highway 1 – Mangaweka to Utiku. Here, where the road blends back into the landscape, modern engineering skills have created a high road through a hazardous last barrier to the north”.
We turned off SH1 onto SH54 at the quaintly named Vinegar Hill. Vinegar Hill is on the banks of the Rangitikei River within the Putai Ngahere Reserve, and is a very popular summer camping spot. The name came about after an incident in early colonial times. A bullock cart carrying barrels of vinegar overturned after the bullocks slipped on the muddy track on the hillside, covering the hillside in vinegar from the broken barrels.
Our stop for the next couple of night is the Ashhurst Domain, where we are pleased to be back on power again. This is a very reasonably priced camp in a lovely setting, as long as campers aren’t put off by the close proximity of the cemetery just through the trees. We have never had any problems with those neighbours, no strange noises, no clanking of chains.