My Dunedin Itinerary

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Dunedin is proud of its education heritage and wants all students to feel welcome- Dunedin’s compact small city size means help is always close-by and easy to find. International student advisors within the high and tertiary institutes provide a wealth of information and support. Residential colleges offer pastoral support, and there are many campus and Dunedin community organisations that offer specific support services.

Information for parents

Sending your child to a different country to live and study can be daunting for many parents. Rest assured, we take responsibility for the welfare and safety of your loved one while they are in our care. New Zealand is a safe and peaceful country. Students often comment about the friendliness of New Zealanders, and this is very evident in Dunedin, on campus and in the city. It has a clean and green environment and a real sense of community. Here your child will enjoy their studies and have an enriching educational experience.

Dunedin enjoys a bigger range of seasonal changes than many visitors from warmer climates are used to, but it’s also the reason why many people come here – the cold winter represents an exciting and different experience for them. Your child will quickly get used to putting an extra layer of warm clothing on if they need to.

Dunedin is known for its learning environment, and offers a very high quality of education. Its high schools rank highly in performance compared to the rest of the New Zealand, and the programmes offered by the University of Otago and the Otago Polytechnic are highly regarded by employers. Teachers use an interactive style of learning, and are engaged and approachable.

English learning is very well supported in Dunedin, with a range of programmes offered based on the individual needs of each student, to support education and encourage everyday conversation.

As well as knowing that their education and English skills are being expanded, your child will also be enjoying a good quality of life in New Zealand, which is renowned for its lifestyle.

High Schools employ a range of staff to oversee their international students, including assisting to transfer to Dunedin when they first fly into New Zealand, but they also make sure each child is involved and integrated into after school activities such as sport. They will have trips and be offered buddy systems. Volunteering is also encouraged. Students know who to go to if they have a question, or need help.

The University and Polytechnic each have a well-resourced international office with a considerable range of support options. Many students take the opportunity to try a new leisure activity – there are many on offer through the student associations.

Dunedin people enjoy good facilities – visiting students often comment on the quality and accessibility of institute and public libraries for instance. There is also a wide range of worship options.

Dunedin has its own festivals and celebrations, including the mid-winter carnival, but also welcomes the traditional festivities of its ethnic communities, such as Chinese New Year.

The central city area is compact and people walk, but there are also good bus services and taxis, and friendly drivers.

Information for parents.

Code of practice

The University of Otago and the Otago Polytechnic have signed the New Zealand Qualifications Authority Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students. The Code is a framework for service delivery by education providers and their agents to international students. It sets out the minimum standards of advice and care expected of educational providers for international students. The Code applies to pastoral care and provision of information only, not to academic standards.

International Student Support: University of Otago

The University of Otago has considerable international student support information available, and International Student Advisers are available on a confidential basis to assist international students with any issues or questions that may arise during their time at Otago. There is also general student support information for University of Otago students.

The Otago International Friendship Network (OIFN) connects new incoming international students with friendly returning Otago students to help them settle into Dunedin and adjust to life at the University of Otago. It is a great way to meet people, and to find out more about every-day life.

The Otago Uni Student Association (OUSA) Student Support Centre exists to make the student experience as trouble-free as possible. It offers a free, confidential, friendly service; even when it cannot assist, its staff will know who can. It is also has information for gender support issues and helpful advice on flatting.

International Student Support: Otago Polytechnic

Otago Polytechnic is committed to providing an environment that is enjoyable, safe and secure for all students, staff and visitors. It has a range of international students support options and general Otago Polytechnic student support. Otago Polytechnic international student advisors advise and support students. The Student Success team, based on the Dunedin Campus are available to talk in person, via phone or email anytime and can help with any personal problems and study issues.

Otago Polytechnic Students Association (OPSA) is an independent organisation within the Polytechnic run by students for students. Its aims are to promote and supply services, facilities and amenities for students; work towards removing barriers to education; represent the views and concerns of students; and promote the advancement of education.


The University of Otago Language Centre offers courses at all levels for students for whom English is a second language.

International Student Support: High schools

Each high school has staff whose job it is to co-ordinate international students during their stay. All schools offer a package of support to its international students to ensure they are safe, comfortable, happy, are participating in recreational activities, comprehending and speaking the language, learning, interacting with other international students, and understanding, enjoying and valuing the Dunedin lifestyle. School buddy systems help students integrate quickly into school life. There is specific assistance to ensure students can achieve with NCEA exams, and with learning English. Pastoral care is very important, and student feedback consistently rates this support highly.


Student Health Services provides counselling support to Otago tertiary students on Dunedin campus to help them to achieve their academic and personal goals. Free Otago Polytechnic counselling services are also available students with any issues in their personal life or studies.


Both the University of Otago Student Services Chaplains and the Otago Polytechnic Chaplain offer services that provides pastoral care and a listening ear, support peoples of faith and helps tertiary students to find out about places of worship. Disability Services

The University of Otago Disability Information and Support provides information, advice and assistance on disability-related study support for students with a disability, impairment, injury or medical condition that affects their ability to study.

The Otago Polytechnic Disability Support provides support tailored to individual needs. This may include classroom note-takers, readers and writers, tutors, equipment, adaptive technology, orientation and liaison with lecturing staff and community agencies.

In the Dunedin community, the Disability Information Service provides free information on disability and health-related information to the Otago region.

Community support

There is good access to a range of information and support services in Dunedin and across the region generally for new settlers. These include the Otago Newcomers Network and Settling in Dunedin.

There is a wealth of information on community services from Trust power Community Connect and New Zealand Now. Language Connect is a free multi-lingual service providing information and advocacy on a wide range of issues including immigration, employment, housing, income support, education, health and wellbeing and much more. Other useful Dunedin websites include Citizens Advice Bureau, the Family Services and Youthline - a dedicated support and community service with a focus on the needs of New Zealand’s youth.

Connecting before you arrive

Social media such as Facebook or WeChat may provide a pathway for students to connect with fellow students in Dunedin before they arrive. Such connections could start either through the student’s planned study programme, the hall of residence they will be staying in, ethnic groups, or interest areas. Ask International student advisors to suggest options.

In an emergency

The DunedinNZ current travel information website has useful information and contacts for Dunedin visitors in the event of a citywide or nationwide emergency. Visit the Emergency Management Otago page in a Civil Defence emergency.

For any other emergency phone 111 for Police, Fire or Ambulance.

Insiders tip

The high school and tertiary campus, and the wider Dunedin community is a caring place – ask if you need help

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