This is one of new Zealand top 10 roads. It was on my to do list for the holidays.
In a nutshell, fantastic.
Fully tar sealed now beautiful quiet and very drivable. The landscape goes heads up high flatlands (1000m) with amazing green pastures surrounded by very rugged country. The Rangitiki river runs through.
In over 150km we counted only 20 vehicles and some of them were road workers. Funnily I found it difficult to find safe placed to pull off and take pictures. Two of the ones below are not mine.
Up on the tops where the green pasture dominated the landscape you could see black Angus cattle for many kilometres.
We drove from the Taihapi side towards Hawkes Bay.