Things to know about volunteering with us...

When you're planning a volunteer trip overseas, there is no question that is too silly to ask. Some of the common questions can be found below. If you can't find the information you're looking for please email us on and we will happily help you to get some answers. 

Can I bring a partner or dependents?

Yes you can, however, you will need to organize accommodation as the volunteer house has limited space and is reserved for the Vets & Vet Nurses only.Te Are Manu has a special rates with Rarotonga Backpackers as follows:

  • Private Single room, shared communal bathroom  $30.00 per night.

  • Private Single room with own Bathroom $40.00 per night.

  • Beach Hut $70.00 per night.

  • Self contained Garden bungalow $70.00 pn.

How is the clinic staffed?

At present we rely on volunteer vets and nurses. We also accept students – final year students will be allowed to perform surgery under the supervision of a senior veterinarian. TAM has a full time Clinic Manager who runs a tight ship and will help you get acquainted with the clinic and your surroundings. We have a wonderful hands on board who will also be able to help you with all queries.

Do I need transport?

The island is 32km to circumnavigate. However, we will arrange to collect you from the airport. The bus service is good. Clockwise and anticlockwise every ½ hour. The clinic is one minute’s walk to the volunteer house so a car is not necessary.You can rent cars, bicycles and electric bicycles locally. We will be providing bicycles as soon as we can. The clinic will be getting a car which you will be able to use. We recommend that our volunteers don't use scooters as insurance will not cover medivac.

What is there to do locally?

Snorkeling from the beach in front of volunteer house, kite surfing, yoga, diving, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, buggy driving, hiking, fishing

What happens to my donation?

Your Volunteer fee of NZD$350 goes towards the running costs of TAM and providing accommodation for volunteers. If you have arranged your own accommodation then the fee to volunteer is NZD$200. It is used to cover your rent, bills, and basics (milk, toilet paper, and washing liquid). You can use the well-equipped kitchen to cook up a storm. BBQs on the beach. Any money left over goes straight into Te Are Manu’s bank account to be used for animal care. The donation fee can be paid prior to arrival on when you get to Rarotonga.

Are there shops close to the clinic?

There are two shops just five minutes’ walk away which have the basics.There are two supermarkets in Avarua and one in Vaimaanga. Things are a little bit more expensive than mainland, so it is advisable to bring toiletries.You can bring food as long as it is not fresh vegetables or fruit.


Can I drink the water? 

Rarotongan tap water is not ideal for drinking and will likely give you a very upset stomach. We recommend that you either buy water for drinking from the store or get a container which you can refill at one of many water stations located around the island.

Where is good to eat?

  • Beluga: hipster café serving coffee and light lunches

  • The Tumunu Restaurant: located 50 meters from the clinic. A favorite hangout for clinic volunteers especially on darts night (Tuesday)!

  • Cocoputt: Sunday nights, excellent buffet spread, including deserts for $35.Live music.

  • Kikau hut: local ingredients

  • Spaghetti House: house of pizza

  • Night market: Sundays/Tuesdays/Wednesdays. Lots of different food for fewer coins

  • Vilix Burgers – Best burgers on the Island .Veggie and meat

  • Party Bus: for the young at heart.


What are the working hours?

8am. to 4.30 p.m. Monday to Friday (Or when there is an emergency)

On Saturday the clinic is open by appointment only. We also have a hut at the market where we talk to the community about animal care and and raise funds through fun activities such as sausage sizzles, hug a puppy etc. We also take any animals needing re-homing to the market to let people know they are available for adoption. 

2 days off a week, depending on number of volunteers at any one time.


On call on roster basis.  An average of 3 calls out a week.

What is the case load?

As the only vet clinic on Rarotonga the case load is busy and varied. PLEASE NOTE: TAM is not a training facility but a fully operational and professionally run animal care clinic. As such volunteers must be confident and have experience in the following procedures:

  • Desexing every day; dogs big and small and cats

  • HBCs, very common as lots of beach dogs

  • Skin workups/ears

  • Neglect/cruelty cases

  • Fight wounds

  • Ciguatera (poisoning from fish)

  • Vomiting/diarrhea cases

  • Lumpectomies

  • Abscesses

In short enough to keep you busy. You will be glad to hear no parvo virus on island


Who does all the cleaning?

All volunteers are responsible for keeping both the clinic and the volunteer house clean and tidy at all times.​  


How much will it cost me to live whilst I am there?

You could do it on $100-150/week, but if you want to live it up more that will increase. The Volunteer compendium is full of offers/vouchers/discounts provided by business supporting TAM's initiatives. As an indication of expenses:

  •  meals out $25+

  •  double dive $100 inc. hire gear at Dive Rarotonga

  •  party bus $35

  •  beer $4.50 - $6   

  •  Sim card (highly recommended) $30-50

What drugs do you use?

Clinic is well-equipped for a practice in an island community however likely very different to what you have at home. We have methadone/domitor/ace. Many of our drugs and clinic supplies are donated so it will require you to think on your feet and use unfamiliar products at times. 

How many volunteers at one time?

The volunteer house accommodates 5 volunteers. Preference is always for qualified vets and nurses/technicians. Students in their final year or recently graduated are also welcome on a case by case basis. Student volunteers (both vets and nurses) will need to provide a letter of reference from a senior veterinary professional outlining the level of skill and proficiency of the student/recent graduate. 

Behaviour and etiquette

We would like all volunteers to treat each other with respect and uphold the good name of Te Are Manu at all times. Patient and clinic confidentiality is important. It is a small island and any bad behavior is reported back pretty quickly. We are good people and we want to work with good people. Any bullying will not be tolerated and you would find yourself on the first flight out of this beautiful tropical island. Everyone is equal at Te Are Manu irrespective of age, race or sexual preference. Come here to meet great people and make great friends. Drugs are a no go! Any gross misconduct will be reported to the Veterinary Board of your country.


For how long can I volunteer?

We prefer you stay with us for a minimum of two weeks. We can accommodate volunteers for one week if absolutely necessary, however space in the volunteer house will be allotted based on length of stay. Longer stays are preferable for full benefit to the animals and other staff.


What is the volunteer house like?

Pretty awesome, 50 metres from a pristine tropical beach with turquoise-clear waters.Nice snorkeling in safe lagoon.Hammock and picnic table by the beach.


Volunteer house room layout:

1 single room

2 rooms two single beds

Well-equipped kitchen, fridge with most condiments.

BBQ facility

Shared bathroom

Dining room and good sized lounge

Why wouldn’t you want to stay here?


How much is the Volunteer Donation?

NZD$350 for everyone who stays at the volunteer house for up to one month. Stay longer than a month will be an additional NZD$100/month. For volunteers making their own accommodation arrangements a fee of NZD$250


Can we accept donations?

​Absolutely! We welcome any donations. It's a great idea to touch base with local clinics and suppliers before you travel as they often have things they will donate to you. Before you bring items with you we require that you submit a Bill of Lading and return this to us by email at least 1 week prior to your arrival. This is to ensure we can let customs know to expect the arrival of the goods and they don't get confiscated off you when you arrive in Rarotonga.


Very useful items:​

  • Vet text books

  • Heartworm tests

  • Needles​

  • Ear/eye drops

  • Superglue`extension sets

  • Diazepam inj

  • Staplers

  • Suture 2/o; 3/o absorbable

  • Bandaging

  • Midazolam inj

  • E collars

  • Flea control

  • Pentobarb inj

  • Splints

  • ​Urinary catheters

  • Propofol

  • Thiopentone

Please do not bring any controlled drugs as you could get arrested.

​What should I pack?

  • T shirts

  • Reef shoes

  • Swim wear

  • Head Torch

  • Hiking shoes​

  • Enclosed shoes  and jandels/thongs/flip flops

  • Sun cream (no oxybenzate – damages coral)

  • Winter months : jeans/hoodie

  • Light rain coat

  • Insect Repellent

  • Books – there is a swap library

  • Party Attire (remember culture is religious in Rarotonga)