When I drove back to Wellington from Taupo a week ago, I drove past the three mountains Ruapehu , Ngarahoe and Tongariro.
It was on Mt Ruapehu where "The Lord of the Rings" movie was filmed. The mountain stood in for "Mt Doom". In the summer there is scarcely any snow on it, but it still looks eerily beautiful, especially when you go past it in the very early morning when the weather is a bit misty and cloudy.
In the same area is the famous NZ day walk called "The Tongariro Crossing". Because, for the last few months, Mt Tongariro has been threatening a hissy fit, the walk has been pruned back a wee bit but folk are still thoroughly enjoying it.
The mountains stand alongside The Desert Road which is the one road in the whole of the North Island that I hate driving on. In the winter it is often snow-bound and I refuse to set a wheel on it. I hate the tight curves at one end and the draggy long-ness at the other end. I used to think "desert" was a stupid name for the road because I was well used to seeing desert movies like "Beau Geste" etc where the desert was just, well ... sand. However, when I travelled through the Arizona desert area I realised then that 'desert' can just mean long stretches of nothingness and this is what The Desert Road feels like to me. - even though it's probably not even one hour's driving!