Travel without a plan

I had a little plan…that covered me for a month in the USA, after that I was going to wing it. 
I’ve now come to decision time and it’s kind of a case of throwing a dart at a map/where can I go that’s super cheap and I can recoup my loses from the ever expensive States…
In my mind I know where I would like to go (my bucket list is endless, it really could be anywhere) but I’d like to give something back at this juncture of my travel life.
I’ve volunteered abroad before, 10 years ago in fact, my first solo travel experience!
Happy travel anniversary to me! 
That was Ecuador, I spent 3 months in the Amazon rainforest thinking I was doing my bit to help save the trees and animals. 
Oh man was I wrong! 
Not only did I have to pay a rather large amount of money for the privilege of working for free, but it turned out that money went to some wealthy American guy who had bought a portion of the rainforest, ‘hired’ the local tribes and paid them pennies to act as tour guides for other wealthy Americans to have the ‘jungle experience’. He rented the land to the charity organisation I had volunteered for, and not cheaply apparently. 
Needless to say, this disillusioned my belief in volunteering, charity work and any hope in saving the rainforest! 
I have, since then, learned that there is a way to genuinely give your time in return for accommodation and sometimes food for a couple of hours work with up-and-coming hostels, small holdings or sometimes just families who want to learn English and teach you their culture. 
So right now I am in the process of sending out applications to dozens of potential hosts in a few different countries, and I will go where the wind takes me! 
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Touching a Kiwi

We had stayed in the Bunkdown hostel in Whangarei, where they told us about the Native Bird Recovery Centre, where you can actually touch a kiwi bird.
We thought an experience like this would cost quite a bit, but it’s only a $10 minimum donation to help keep the centre running.


This is Sparky, he was caught in a trap and lost his leg, he would have died in the wild, but here he has a full life, munching on worms and helping educate the children of New Zealand.



This was definitely one of he best experiences in New Zealand. Being so inexpensive too was a bonus for the budget traveler. 
Robert, the founder of the centre is full of facts and information, and his passion for the birds and their care shows. 
He found us worms to feed Sparky.


The centre helps all kinds of birds, the website even has a webcam to watch eggs hatching that have have been abandoned and rescued by the centre. 


I have included the link to the website as this was literally the best experience, and it helps injured animals.
http://www.nbr.org.nz/sparky

Oamaru

 
From Twizel we are heading to Oamaru, home of penguins and Steampunk.
On our drive there we stopped to see some Maori cave drawings.






The rocks were more interesting than the drawings, plus they’ve removed the ‘best’ ones to put in a museum!
Onward to Oamaru as the rain set in, we found a charity shop, where our original intention was to buy some tapes, yes, tapes of music. The radio in the car is very intermittent and Laura and I enjoy a sing song. We got a bit carried away and ended up buying loads! It was so cheap though! We could have packed out our car from this charity shop!
We didn’t come all this way just for a bargain, there’s steampunk sights to be seen!




And yellow eyed penguins to find.





We found a teeny tiny caterpillar, seals, cormorants and two yellow eyed penguins.








We got to our tent just before the rain started!