January 26, 2011
Today was my final day in Auckland, and I had a great time!
The morning began when I was picked up by a Harley Davidson tour at the hotel. Tourism New Zealand planned this adventure to show me the countryside while here on the north island. My dad has actually been contemplating getting a Harley, so this was fun for me to test out the bikes.
And don't worry fans, we went very slow and were very careful. I did not drive the bike, and we had some pretty experienced guides driving the bikes.
We drove west from Auckland, stopping to check out a few scenic overlooks where I snapped some pictures with my friends, before going down to the famous black sand beaches here in New Zealand. To my surprise, the beach was somewhat empty, though there were a few surfers.
I did learn that the surf is one of the most dangerous in New Zealand at Piha Beach where we were. Many times surfers and swimmers get caught in the tide and current, and either get swept out to sea or into some dangerous rocks nearby.
The bikes then dropped us off at a ferry near our hotel where we went to Waiheke Island, which quickly became one of my favorite New Zealand destinations. It is about a 45-minute ferry ride to the island, which is very quaint and has stayed somewhat private and exclusive to chain-style businesses.
We first went to Cable Bay vineyard, tasting a few of their amazing wines and also picking some grapes from the vineyard itself. Next, Cable Bay hosted an amazing lunch for us. We ate everything from burgers to octopus to duck liver pate.
Then we got to play some games. I learned how to shoot an arrow for the first time, and I have to say, I did pretty well. Then we grabbed some laser rifles and shot skeet. The best part was that they kept a total score of both the archery and shooting for us. Of course I scored the highest!
That alone made for an exhausting day, so after returning to the hotel and getting a quick nap in, I was honored to be able to dine with Prime Minister John Key at the home of one of Baseball New Zealand's top supporters. He and his son are huge baseball fans, so it was fun to discuss baseball with them, as well as learn his perspective about his country.
Tomorrow I get to meet with some members of the famous All Blacks rugby team before heading down to Queenstown for some rest, relaxation and personal workout time as I continue to prepare for the season.