Buddy Medbery


Buddy Medbery

I work to dive and travel

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Bay of Islands » Paihia May 13th 2020

The less I say about Auckland the better. People seem to be flocking there to live, but we failed to see the charm. Perhaps in the suburbs it is better, but downtown is crowded, noisy, congested, and lacking in charm, at least for us. The museum is magnificent - more about that later. After a night in Auckland, we headed back out on the road, this time going up the west coast of the North Island and then crossing over to the east side and the Bay of Islands area. In particular, in addition to just seeing more of the North island, we had our sights set on the kauri trees. Among the largest trees on earth, these also represent one of the oldest tree groups on earth, with representative species extending back to the Jurassic ... read more
Kauri slab
Kauri gum
Swamp kauri slab - 7600 years old

Crusin' and playing the radio With no particular place to go Chuck Berry After leaving Doubtful Sound, we had to make a long drive to the Fox Glacier area. We planned to see the glacier while we were there, but also had hoped to have great views of the Southern Alps from the western side along the way. We were frustrated in both aspirations. In the more southern part of the trip, we saw some beautiful lakes, such as Lake Wakatipu at Queenstown and the side-by-side lakes Wanaka and Hawea. But as you drive along the western coast of the South Island, you are largely in vegetation-covered foothills, and only rarely catch glimpses of the mountains themselves. We frequently crossed wide snow-fed alluvial streams, with the typical shoals of gravel, now barely flowing at the end ... read more
Lake Wakatipu
Lake Wanaka
Snow-fed alluvial river

Although enjoyable, the trip to Milford Sound was a little underwhelming, given its rank in the pantheon of world travel destinations. Lots of waterfalls, but small in size and little else to see on the Sound itself. However, the next day went the other way. Our day started with a short drive to another lodging in Te Anau with a large parking area, where we parked the car and took our small overnight bags for our overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound. Doubtful Sound is much more remote than Milford, perhaps accounting for its second place among South Island attractions. To get there, we took a van about 20 km from Te Anau to Manapouri, boarded a boat which took us about 35 km across Lake Manapouri to the Manapouri Hydro Station, then boarded a smaller van ... read more
Raging stream on way to Deep Cove
Doubtful Sound
Doubtful Sound

The highlight most anticipated by many visitors to New Zealand's South Island is a visit to Fiordland National Park, and for many that means a cruise on Milford Sound. In normal times, this means about a two hour car drive from Te Anau or a longer drive from Manapouri or Queenstown, followed by a relatively short cruise on what is a surprisingly small body of water. However, this was not normal times. Continuing our string of catastrophic near-misses, we arrived in Fiordland just days after an historic flood event devastated the road to Milford, stranding hundreds and requiring several air rescues. Over 39 inches of rain fell within a 60 hour period. https://www.odt.co.nz/regions/hundreds-stranded-flood-hit-fiordland The result of the consequent flooding was that the road into Milford was several damaged in several places. When you drive the road, ... read more
Eglington Valley
Mirror Lake
Mirror Lake

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Te Anau February 20th 2020

One of our unspoken rules is that the driver makes any real-time navigation decisions. Depending on the adventurousness of the driver, this can result in some expected destinations. And no, I am not currently talking about the scurrilous tale that I tried to drive us over a cliff in Spain. Our goal for the day was to follow what is known as the Great Southern Scenic Route along the south coast of the South Island, to Stirling Point, then on to Te Anau, our base of operations for the next couple of days. Stirling Point is in the small town of Bluff, the southernmost town (although not the southernmost point) in New Zealand, and the southern terminus of Hwy 1, which traverses the length of New Zealand. The southernmost point is actually Slope Point in the ... read more
Catlins Lake
Rainforest along trail to Purakaunui Falls
Purakaunui Falls

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Dunedin February 19th 2020

Heading further south on the South Island East Coast, our goal for the day was the Otago Peninsula and the Royal Albatross Center. We had originally planned to also watch the small blue penguins come ashore, but that encounter takes place at sunset and at this latitude at this time of year sunset comes late. We decided instead to head on back to Dunedin and our evening lodging after visiting the Albatross Center. The albatross is famous in legend and literature. We are all familiar with "Water, water everywhere, and all the boards did shrink" from Coleridge, and with the expression "albatross around your neck". Still, this literate familiarity does not prepare you for the majesty of seeing these magnificent birds aloft. The albatross spends most of its life at sea, and albatross pairs (they mate ... read more
Nesting albatross
View from Albatross Center viewing station
Scenic route from Taiaroa Head

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Kaikoura February 16th 2020

"I'm travelin' down the road and I'm flirtin' with disaster" Molly Hatchet We have been playing on the fringes with disaster this whole trip. Just before we arrived, worst-ever wildfires ringed Sydney and were burning out of control. The city was full of smoke, and the same was true to a somewhat lesser extent in Melbourne and Adelaide. Just as we arrived, they started to die down as winds fell and some rain relief arrived. We saw no signs of the fires in those cities. Then, during our stay in Adelaide, a cyclone hit the west coast and threatened to bring deluging rains to Adelaide, but we left before it could arrive. Now, having completed this stay in Sydney, we were due to fly to Wellington to begin our New Zealand adventure, and yet another cyclone ... read more
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Oceania » Australia » New South Wales » Sydney » Sydney Harbour February 14th 2020

After Cairns, it was back to Sydney. The flight from Cairns left us with half a day, so we decided to explore The Rocks. The Rocks is the area of Sydney that was originally inhabited by aboriginals then by convicts, and for many decades it was a favorite haunt of criminals, prostitutes, and sailors. It is named for the sandstone on which the buildings are built. More recently, it has undergone partial gentrification, and has tourist shops and eating places, as well as two pubs that each claim to be the oldest in Sydney. We chose the Lord Nelson for a wee pint, and then for dinner upstairs, which was surprisingly significantly more upscale. The Sydney Observatory is located here, but we did not have time to visit. This area was once being primed to be ... read more
Lord Nelson Pub
Sydney Harbor Bridge
Opera House

Oceania » Australia » Queensland » Cairns » Cairns City February 10th 2020

Leaving Adelaide, we flew straight to Cairns. Along with Townsville, Cairns is one of the gateways to the Great Barrier Reef. When Jennie and I were here in 2005 we went to Townsville and took a dive boat boat out 200 miles into the Coral Sea for a week, but we never actually saw the GBR. For this trip, we decided to headquarter in Cairns, where the reef is much closer to the shore. Our hotel was right on the waterfront. Initially, it appeared that there was a big harbor outside our door, but when the tide went out it became apparent that it was actually just a large mud flat with sprouting mangrove seedlings. The harbor was at the end of the city, where there was a large mixed use development that appeared to be ... read more
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Oceania » Australia » South Australia » Adelaide February 9th 2020

In the environs of Melbourne and Adelaide we visited several wine areas. It is easier to cover them all together even though they were on separate days. Melbourne has the famous Yarra Valley northeast of the city, basically surrounding the area of the Healesville Aniam Sanctuary we visited. However, when we were at the the Sanctuary it was obvious that traffic was heavy and we found out that Elton Jon was giving a concert that night and the next night. Rather than going back up there to try the justifiably famous wines, we elected instead to go to the Mornington Peninsula. Mornington is Sonoma to the Yarra Valley's Napa. Much more laid back and informal, and frankly more fun. Viticulture is intricately related to microenvironment. A little higher tip a slope and the annual rainfall or ... read more
Melbourne Mornington Peninsula
Melbourne Mornington Peninsula
Melbourne Mornington Peninsula

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