Category Archives: Daniel

My Snorkeling Adventure!

By Daniel van Stralen
The boat left the harbour at 8:15. We needed to be there ahead of time to get geared up and store our snacks and lunches in the boat. We camped the night before at the Tutukaka Holiday Park  which was about 1 km from the harbour. We got up early so we could pack our bags with snacks, wetsuits and camera gear.  When we were all packed up we walked the 10 minute walk from our camp ground to the boat.
On the way to the harbour we passed a couple of stores and I saw that one of these was an ice cream store. I asked my Dad  if we could stop to get some ice cream for on the boat but he said it would be best to have it when we come back and I agreed. Yes!
It’s 8:10 and we had arrived at the harbour to see a big black van that said Yukon Dives which was the company that we were going diving with. We also met the family that will be diving with us today.
We had heard about the Poor Knights Islands diving area from some friends we had made during our travels and it is rated in the top ten snorkeling and diving areas in the world.
The islands are a 1 hour boat ride from the mainland and are whats left of a huge ancient volcano that collapsed leaving some huge spires of volcanic rock jutting out of the South Pacific Ocean.
The waves hit the south side of the islands and then eddy around to the calm north side carrying with them a plankton and nutrient rich soup that attracts tons of fish and underwater sea life. This area is also a part of the EAC – East Australia Current which is a warm subtropical flow which attracts all kinds of sea life. (Remember “Finding Nemo.”)
On the way to the islands me and my Dad went on to the roof of the boat and we watched as the islands loomed closer and closer.
 The captain had warned us that there was large swell today on the ocean and about 20 minutes before arrival I felt a little sea sick so I lied down and fell asleep.
I woke up suddenly to see that we were only 5 minutes away from the island so I climbed down the ladder to the lower level of the boat and grabbed my wet suit.
I also picked out a set of snorkelling goggles and flippers. This spot that our guide picked for us is one of two spots that we would be snorkelling at today.
We put on our flippers and defogged our goggles and the jumped in to the ocean.
When I opened my eyes I was in awe. When you see the ocean from the surface it is beautiful but it is mostly blue and grey.
As soon as you go under the surface it’s like a portal into a new world. Endless fields of kelp bright colours of coral and schools of hundreds of fish. Its hard to explain what you see as empty and grey when it turns into a hole new world of fish and other sea life and I guess the only way to explain it is jaw dropping.
I was swimming along and watching the fish when I saw something gliding through the water beneath me. It was a big beautiful Sting Ray so I started to follow it. It was a thrill to watch it gliding across the ground with such grace and speed. I lost sight of it when it swam into a big patch of kelp.
I swam back to my family who were swimming amongst a huge school of bright blue fish.  While I was swimming our guide called us all back to the boat. Before we started to go to the second snorkelling sight we had soup  I got creamy chicken and the rest of my family got chicken noodle soup.
The boat ride to the second spot was only about a 30 minute ride but a lot of amazing things happened in the 30 minutes.
Our guide told me that we would see lots of arches and caves before we got there so I climbed to the roof of the boat to get a better view.
About ten minutes after I had seated myself on the roof we saw are first arch. It was big and very beautiful.  I was surprised to see that our boat was turning into it. We started to move under the arch it was scary because there were big waves crashing on both sides.
We made it through safely and started heading toward the second spot. We saw lots of arches and caves before we arrived at the diving spot.
Our guide told us that at this spot we would see more fish then we did a the first and that they usually swim near an arch that was next to the boat.
I defogged my goggles and jumped in. There were jelly fish everywhere. Our guide said that these jelly fish don’t sting but I still kept my distance because I had just been stung by a jelly fish a week before while I was surfing and I didn’t want to go through that again.
When my brother jumped in the water we began to swim to the arch. On the way there were some spots were we had to dive under the water because there were so many jelly fish.
When we arrived I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were fish every where! Schools of little brown fish, bright blue fish and even some large King Fish. There were also some snapper, scorpion fish and some sea urchins.
Some of the scuba divers saw Moray eels. My brother noticed a great big sting ray. It was at least double the size of the one I had seen before and seemed to have some white spots on it.
Since the fish at the Poor Knights Islands have never been fished they weren’t afraid of us – you could swim right next to them.
I found it super fun that I could swim in big schools of fish with out them swimming away.
We had swam around the arch looking at different fish and sea life for about 3 hours before our guide called us back to the boat.
I was sad when we had to leave the beautiful undersea world, but our guide said that he had one more surprise for us.
I was trying to think what the surprise could be when I saw a huge cave in the side of the cliff. It was one of the biggest caves I had seen in my life and our guide told us that it was the biggest sea cave in the world.
Our guide drove the big boat right into the cave then dropped the anchor.
I was looking around at the cave when I heard a beautiful sound. It was our guide playing a wooden flute.  I was mesmerized by the sound as it echoed though the cave.
Our guide told us that different kinds of bands had came into this cave to record songs  because of the beautiful acoustics in the cave.
He also told us that a big Sperm Whale had died in the cave and it’s bones are still at the bottom.
We had about 15 minutes to look around and film before our guide played another song then started the boats engine to head back to the harbour.
On the way back home I remembered all the pretty things I had seen. I also was thinking about how yummy the ice cream was going to be when we got back.
Please leave me a comment if you enjoyed my story  🙂

The Sky Couch

Hi my name is Daniel I’m 12 years old and have been traveling for a year with my family.

My family and I have flown in lots of different airplanes since we started our travels and have had many different experiences in each one. 

Each place I’ve gone to has a different idea on how to make their passengers flying in the plane more comfortably. They all do a great job but in my opinion the Air New Zealand airlines are one of the best. 

That is because of an option they call the Sky Couch. 

skycouchNo, It’s not a flying couch but it sure feels like it. The sky couch’s bed-like padding and fluffy pillows allows the passenger to fall right to sleep. 

The sky couch is a lot like first class but not as expensive. I don’t know the exact prices of sky couch but you can find out on the Air New Zealand website. I do know however that the prices of the sky couch but it is basically the cost of three regular coach economy seats but shared by two people. 

From my experience on the sky couch I would say it is the most comfortable airline seating option for those who want to sleep on a super long flight next to first class. Here is a picture of what you can expect if you book sky couch.

You can use it as a bed or sit comfortably with others. While you sit or lie down on the sky couch you can also watch movies on your own TV screen. Air NZ has a large selection of Every seat on air New Zealand has a TV but not all seats allow you to lie down and watch tv like the sky couch does. Since you have three seats for two people you have the extra elbow room while seated, but the real benefit comes when you are really tired and just want to lay down. 

At this point you reach under your seat and pull up the handle transforming your three seat row into a full size bed. The flight attendants provide you with pillows and comfortable blankets and you stretch out and fall asleep. For someone my size it’s a nice big bed. For someone 6′ 4″ like my Dad it’s a bit small, but it’s still a lot better than sitting upright for 12 hours. When my dad straightened out his legs they went right across the aisle. Most of the time however he lay on his side and was quite comfy. 

That’s why I think that air New Zealand’s sky couch and costumer service makes them one of the best airlines I have ever been on. 

I definitely recommend that if you’re going to New Zealand and make sure to book yourself the sky couch for a comfortable ride to a beautiful place. 

You can ask more questions about the sky couch in the comment section or on the air New Zealand website. Also leave a comment if this blog was useful or if you have any ideas for future blogs.

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My research on travel-friendly Dogs

By Daniel van Stralen – 12 years old. 

Over the past year I have traveled around North America with my family of 5, in our Winnebago RV. Currently we are traveling in Asia, Australia and New Zealand.  

I think it’s fair to say that I am a dog lover. I would like to get a dog again someday but I understand the challenges of traveling with pets. So, I am currently doing some research to get a better understanding of what type of dog would fit my family’s life style.  

I would need a dog that doesn’t mind riding in our Jeep or motor-home for hours at a time. I need a dog that loves to hike and climb mountains and finally I need a dog that is not too hairy because we live in small spaces and my Dad would be sneezing all night. 

So while traveling I’ve been looking around and asking fellow travelers what dog or dogs they love traveling with.  It is really fun research because I’ve been able to pet and make friends with so many awesome dogs everywhere I go. Their humans are usually really nice too. 

I’ve gotten back lots of good feedback from many different travelers. I’ve seen all types of dogs from active to relaxed, big and small, long and short haired. 

Every one has different opinions but I’ve found my favorite dog breeds for the active traveler. 

Here are the top two active breeds I like best! 

  1. Australian Shepard.
  2. Jack Russell.

I will start with the Australian Shepherd. Most people think that they would be big and aussyscary just because of the word Shepherd in their name, but they are actually very cute. To give you an idea of what they look like here’s a picture.

I know they are pretty furry but you can trim their hair or get a short haired Australian Shepherd. They are active dogs and are perfect on hikes or mountain biking. They also are good at going on walks and being a family guard dog. They can be trained to do a lot of tricks.

 One Australian Shepherd I know can even army crawl. I had the pleasure of meeting plenty of Australian Shepherd’s at the Over Land Expo in Asheville, North Carolina. The one I got to spend the most time with was named Athena. They are good in RVs and in cars as long as you take them out for a walk/play every few hours, just like a kid like me, I love getting out and playing between long trips. 

Overall Australian Shepherds are great traveling dogs for the active traveler, I’ve seen some running beside their owners on everything from mountain bike trails to multi-day treks.

So now that you have heard all about Australian Shepherds I’m going to talk about the Jack Russell. 

Jack Russells are in the small category of dog sizes. They are very playful and they love to dig holes, but I’m sure you can train yours to not dig up your lawn. 

These are very cute dogs and are mostly short haired. Jack Russells are also one of the smartest dogs in the world. If you have never seen a jack Russell they are pretty hard to picture, so here is a photo of one.


I have met a lot of Jack Russells and have had fun playing with every one of them. Jack Russell’s are very active, especially Jack Russell puppies. 

They are good hikers and swimmers and are able to carry a dog hiking pack. They are good in RVs and cars as long as you take them out to exercise and feed them. I personally recommend using a soft case to transport or carry them in. 

My conclusion so far is that both Jack Russells and Australian Shepards are great for the active traveler like me, but I can’t choose between them at this time. Maybe I’ll ask my parents if I can get one of each. 😀

I hope you found this blog useful. If you have any questions or can share some more insight on these dogs or other breeds, please comment below. 

Thank you 


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Elephants in Bali

Hi my name is Daniel I’m 12. On this blog I’m going to be talking about my experience with elephants in Bali. Elephants are kind animals that care for each others safety, can carry lots of weight and can run up to 40km an hour. They have a long nose called a trunk that they use to drink water and grab food. Here are some pictures to give an idea on how big they actually are.

African elephants grow to be 3.3m and Asian elephants grow to be around 2.7m. That’s pretty big. dan1

On our visit to the elephant park in Bali, I spent most of my time playing with the baby elephant named Lina, I also got to bathe the elephants and ride them. When you ride an elephant bare back you usually sit on its neck or on its head. Don’t worry it doesn’t hurt the elephants.

Elephants can eat 200 to 600 pounds of food per day and can spend 12 to 18 hours just feeding. Elephants are not native to Bali. They were imported here by an English born, Australian man named Nigel Mason who is the owner of the Bali elephant rescue safari that we visited.

Nigel Mason rescued these Elephants from Sumatra where they were being shot by local farmers who consider them to be a nuisance.

Even the baby elephant Lina seemed really big up close or at least for me. Elephants can be trained to do lots of things but Lina just likes to hug.

Elephants will hug you with their trunks which is a weird feeling.  it’s awesome because you can hug them back. They have hair on their trunks and most of their body. But their hair is not like a human’s in the way that our hair grows in thick patches. Elephants hair is more wide spread and sort of prickly. dan2

Besides that, elephants are easy to love and hug.  After spending time to learn and play with the elephants they came to be my favorite animals. I can guarantee that if you go to Bali and decide to go to elephant park and take the time to play and understand the elephants, they just might become your favorite animals too.

I hope you get a chance to visit the Bali Elephant park someday. If not, you can at least enjoy my video and photos here. Thanks for reading!

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Gaming on the road.

Me (right) and Pete (left) enjoying the views at The Grand Canyon

Airport layovers and long road trips just got a lot more fun. Introducing the GAEMS portable gaming console. Our travels have taken us over 60,000 kms of North America roads in search of epic outdoor adventures. During some of the long road stretches and long airport layovers, my brother and I have had a blast fun playing our games with our portable GAEMS units.


Today I’m doing a review on the GAEMS portable gaming system. 

First I’m going to be talking about the GAEMS features.

The GAEMS case allows you to carry it like a suit case, when the PS4 or any

Me and Pete playing in the RV while we drive down the freeway.

other console is inside it ways about 5 to 7 lbs. The GAEMS has only a few wires making it easier to move around, but it still needs to be plugged in to a power outlet.

There are three wires not counting remote charger. The first is the TV plug-in which allows your screen in the case to light up and project any thing you want to see. Next in my case is the PS4 power plug/wire or any console power wire depending on which you prefer. The last wire is the HDMI cable. This is the wire that allows the game from your console to be shown on the GAEMS screen.

What it comes with.

The GEAMS system comes with all 3 power wires and a little remote that allows you to turn the screen off or on and change the brightness and sound.  I’ve been using the GEAMS portable gaming case for about 7 months and I love it. It works really well while I’m traveling and overall in my opinion it’s the best portable gaming case out there. You can buy them directly from the GAEMS website or you can order it from a local you EB Games or GameStop. There are a couple of different models  available.

The Vanguard black edition  and the Sentry.

Here are some pictures with specs and prices.

1. The Vanguard black edition // Non-reflective 19″ 720p (1080p scaled) El-LED display


2. The Sentry GAEMS //  15” 720p LED display

 Have fun and make sure you balance your play time with other important things like work and care.  – Daniel van Stralen