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The 22-year-old former Kavanagh College pupil has spent five weeks in Rarotonga helping out at a charitable vet clinic, and this week will start two weeks of volunteer work with the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust.
Ms Stephen, who will be in her fourth year at Massey University's Veterinary School this year, decided this was her last chance to do some travel and volunteer work before her course work got very demanding.
She chose the Esther Honey Foundation voluntary vet clinic which attracted veterinarians from around the world keen to help out with Rarotonga's animal population.
A focus of the clinic was de-sexing, but it also dealt with unwanted animals and many animals, especially dogs, hit by vehicles, she said.
''It was pretty hard work. The heat was a big challenge.''
But she learnt a lot by helping out and enjoyed working with the animals.
''They were the friendliest dogs I've ever met.''
After a few weeks' break, she was set to help out at the penguin trust.
''I'm so excited.''
Another former Dunedin student, Sophie Dunn, also spent two weeks at the Rarotongan vet clinic, she said.