Desert Road Scenic Drive

Desert Road Scenic Drive


3 Rankers Reviews

3 Face-to-Face

2 Waiouru

Online Maps



Amazing landscapes and incredible scenery.

The desert is bisected by only one sealed road, a section of State Highway 1 known as the Desert Road. The road is closed for short periods most winters with barriers arms due to severe snow storms and icy road conditions. Turangi emergency services monitor the northern part of the Desert Road and the NZ army at Waiouru is responsible for the southern end.

The Lord of the Rings films were shot in New Zealand, and the Black Gate of Mordor scenes were shot in the Rangipo Desert in 2000.

Rangipo Desert is a barren desert-like environment in New Zealand, located in the Ruapehu District on the North Island Volcanic Plateau; to the east of the three active peaks of Mount Tongariro, Mount Ngauruhoe, and Mount Ruapehu, and to the west of the Kaimanawa Range.


Feature Value Info


Desert Road Scenic Drive

Commercial organisation


North IslandRuapehuWaiouru


  • Scenic Attractions
  • Free


Hector Sharp's avatar

Hector Sharp


Ranking: 8/10

Great drive down towards Wellington but be careful as the weather can change very quickly. The scenery is stunning.

Reviewed about 6 years ago and experienced in March 2016

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Pablo Zanardi's avatar

Pablo Zanardi


Ranking: 10/10

View of the snowy mountain with a long, relaxing drive. Amazing feeling.

Reviewed over 6 years ago

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Thibault Bonenfant's avatar

Thibault Bonenfant


Ranking: 9/10

The nicest drive so far - amazing landscapes, incredible scenery. But zero lookout on small parking area to stop the drive. Enjoy the moment and the view.

Reviewed over 9 years ago