On the way, we passed thousands of rusty car wrecks - also known as the Horopito Vintage Vehicles and Museum.
Tempting, but we didn't stop.
Ohakune has, like so many of the rural settlements, the air of a frontier town. Many of the buildings are wooden, with deep verandahs. The Utopia cafe had an old brick fireplace and chimney, gleaming kauri wood floors and a menu of homemade, exotic cakes. The town had a reputation for growing winter vegetables - the vegetation on this side is much thicker and more lush, with thicker forest clothing the slopes.
We drove up to the ski area, even busier on this side. It started snowing...
Going back down, we took a mountain track towards the Waitonga Falls, at 65 metres the highest on the mountain.
The evergreen woods reminded us of Rivendell, home of the elves in Tolkien's The Lord of the Ring saga. Mosses dripped off the trees, solitary lichen clung to bark. The leaves barely trembled in the stillness, broken only by the bell-like notes of a solitary tui, invisible among the trees.
The Ring was calling us...