Study Abroad at the University of Otago in Dunedin, NZ
95% Rating
(37 Reviews)

Study Abroad at the University of Otago in Dunedin, NZ

The University of Otago is New Zealand’s first university and the top choice for more than 20,000 students.

After almost 150 years, we still lead the way when it comes to world-class teaching and a legendary student lifestyle – the two core elements that set us apart and the reason students from around the world choose us for their tertiary education.

An Otago degree can give you the momentum to get where you want to go in life. And it's not just academic achievement that you'll take with you. The experiences and friednships forged at Otago can last a lifetime.

  • Ranked 151st in the 2017/18 QS Workld Rankings
  • Otago holds more teaching awards than any other NZ university
  • More than 190 undergraduate and postgraduate programmes
  • 15 residential colleges on or near campus accommodate over 3,500 students
  • Recognised by Huffington Post as one of the 15 most beautiful campuses in the world
Oceania » New Zealand » Dunedin
Oceania » New Zealand
Program Type
Direct Enrollment
Subject Areas
American Studies
Animal Science
Art History
Asian Studies
Conflict Studies
Conservation and Preservation
Criminal Justice
Cultural Studies
Earth Sciences
East Asian Studies
English Literature
European Studies
Food Science and Nutrition
Global Studies
Health Sciences
International Business
Liberal Arts
Marine Biology
Middle Eastern Studies
Natural Sciences
Peace Studies
Physical Therapy
Public Relations
Service Learning
Social Sciences
Theater, Drama and Dance
U.S. Studies
Wildlife Sciences
Degree Level
Academic Year
Online Application
Official Transcripts
Language Requirement
GPA Requirement
Starting Price

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Academics
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  • Fun
  • Housing
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Show 1 - 15 of 37
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Best 5 Months of My Life So Far

The University of Otago is amazing. The professors are super chill and really want you to learn. My professors were actually some of the nicest people I have ever met. Their passion for their subjects is contagious. I took Bioethics 301, Psychology of Language, and History of Christianity. All highly recommended. The students are also super welcoming and super fun! There is never a shortage of things to do in Dunedin, day or night. Really try to get to know the Kiwis because they are awesome people.
The country of New Zealand is unbelievable. If I had to guess what Heaven is like, it'd probably look something like New Zealand. Actually though. Sometimes I would look out the car window and would not feel like I was actually on Earth. It's crazy how many beautiful and varied places there are within such a small country. This makes it much easier to get out and explore tons of places. I've fell in love with the country and its people so much that I have thought about moving to NZ after graduation, at least for a period of time.
P.S. Do the Copland Track! It was one of my favorite hikes that a lot of people in my program never got around to doing. There's also natural hot pools when you get to the hut after the first day. Pretty neat.

Yes, I recommend
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Best Semester of my Life

I am originally from the United States and decided to go abroad to New Zealand. I chose Otago out of all the schools because the location and the courses. Otago was perfect for abroad because the academics weren't so hard that I spent my whole time in my room, but also challenged me in ways that my American university hadn't. I took a Maori class which was SO FUN and got to experience attending a bigger university. It has a reputation to be the biggest party school in NZ but I think that between Otago and Victoria (in Wellington) they are about equal. The housing was chilly but was actually really perfect. I got to live with international students and experience the best of NZ. I had a class, though, where the teacher was really aware and open about my "Americanness".. She would continually call me out/ask me to speak about how I felt about America... and to make things worse, I was over there right before the Trump/Clinton election... So she would crack jokes and say inappropriate things about the USA and my heritage.. So I went to the international office and they helped me switch classes really easily. It was hard but it was a really good experience to have under my belt (I mean.. we go abroad to experience new things including stigmas against us.. right?) Overall, Otago was a perfect fit for me (and if I could just transfer there permanently, trust me I would).. but my advice is go to Otago if you want to explore NZ and learn lots about Kiwis.. but don't go if you want a highly academic experience.

How can this program be improved?

It would have been helpful to have a little heads up on the main differences between NZ school and American school, but I really loved it, so that's my only suggestion!

Yes, I recommend
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Amazing and challenging experience!

By challenging, I don't mean it entirely in the academic sense but in the social aspect as well—trying to remember everyone you meet and putting yourself out of your comfort zone in only 5 months was a challenge. In terms of academics, I decided to take 300 level science classes and the material was a bit challenging for me since I didn’t take the proper pre-reqs but the professors were so friendly and supportive. They offered so much insight and resources to help international students succeed. In some cases they even recommended places to visit in New Zealand, so I definitely recommend introducing yourself or talking to them after class if you have a chance.

The campus is beautiful (despite all the construction), but it felt a bit smaller than what the images on the website and brochures may have evoked in size. The flats on Castle St owned by Uni are homey and spacious. I even had a sink in my room! The flats across the street though, not so much, so you should be prepared to see a lot of broken glass on the floor. Uni has a reputation for its party scene and Castle St. is famous for it. Ironically I didn’t know that before I moved in, so if you prefer a quieter place, make sure to note that in your housing survey. Still loved my flat and my experience on Castle.

Other recommendations: I recommend joining a club on campus if you actually want to meet a good amount of Kiwis. Most of the people I met were international students and a couple Kiwis from my classes.

How can this program be improved?

Offer more events for international students to meet locals, such as volunteering events or a campus wide event. Also, the orientation presentation in the auditorium seemed unnecessary, maybe make the orientation experience more interactive or engaging.

Yes, I recommend
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Best Trip I've ever had!

Oh man where do I start? I have so many beautiful memories from my trip to Dunedin and my study abroad experience at Otago. First of all I would like to thank the wonderful staff the made my trip outstanding, there was a lot of support from the University of Otago from all aspects. From the Uni flats staff to the professors at the University would always be at my service when ever I needed their help or support which is something that I've NEVER experienced at my home university. People are extremely friendly in through out New Zealand and I've made lots of friends while I was abroad. I will truly keep New Zealand very close to my heart for embracing me with open arms! Thank you!

Yes, I recommend
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Otago- best four months of my life

Studying in Dunedin is one of the most kiwi things you can possibly do. Through the flatting system, I got to live with people from all over the world, from Kiwis to Brazilians. Dunedin is not far from some of the most gorgeous scenery in New Zealand- Mt. Aspiring National Park, the Remarkables, etc. and not far from tourist destinations of Wanaka and Queenstown. Dunedin itself boasts some incredible beaches and wildlife, some beautiful hills, and a very fun social scene. The academics can be as challenging or easy as you want depending on the classes you take. UniFlats was awesome and provided tons of support, fun events and meals, and information.

How can this program be improved?

Honestly, can't think of much to improve on. Like I said, it was the best four months of my life.

Yes, I recommend
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The Best Five Months Of My Short Life

In a sentence, my time in New Zealand was the most transformative, exciting, and time warped five months of my life. I loved every second of my time in New Zealand. I'll start with the academics because according to my dad, that was the reason I was there but I'll explain later, and you've probably heard before, study abroad is not really about the studying. The University of Otago is a far cry from my small liberal arts school in northern Washington State, as it is home to 24,000 students all whom work hard and play hard. In my labs I got to meet Kiwi students and work closely with professors, teaching fellows and peer demonstrators. I got to experience work on the research vessel the Polaris and see more of my adopted Otago region because of it. I loved the hands off teaching style that allows students to take their education into their own hands, I wasn't used to not having someone check up on my work, seeing if I was comfortable at with the material and at first I struggled. I was unsure how to study without a test every two weeks to prepare for, but after the first month I fell into stride and loved being responsible to manage my time.
Like I said before however, it wasn't the academics that made my adventure most memorable. It was the people and the places. I lived in University run housing, UniFlats and loved every minute. The flat housed 6 students, myself, two other americans, two kiwis and a brit, in a complex of 8 identical flats. I couldn't have loved my flatmates more and the whole complex became a family, with shall I say social events being held almost every night and weekend trips to the mountains and lakes and natural beauty of New Zealand being a regular occurrence. It was my time with these people who helped transform to be more willing to say yes, who got my blood pumping as I leaped off a bridge and who made time fly. There is so much more to be said about why you should go to NZ, the ample opportunity for professional networking, the ease of traveling around the country, the friendliness of the locals and so much more but to sum up, I loved my time abroad and can't for the next adventure.

Yes, I recommend
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A Real Hobbit Experience

Within the first month of arriving in New Zealand, I had already checked several things off my bucket list, some of which I didn’t even know were on there! One of those adventures was a trip to the West Coast.
After a class that went 3 hours past its scheduled time my entire flat and one other in our complex set out for what turned out to be the most challenging and rewarding trip of my life, so far. We drove about 4 hours from Dunedin and camped right outside Wanaka. It was the middle of winter and FREEZING! We piled into tents after throwing on a few extra layers and woke up in time to watch the sunrise. Had it been just a little warmer, it would have been the perfect start to the trip.
After another long drive, we arrived on the West Coast at the start of the Copland Track. This 23km track to the hut we stayed at began on a beach. We were surrounded by tropical foliage for the first hour or so of the hike. Through the course of the track, we crossed several rivers, both on wire bridges and by just walking through the middle of them, we climbed boulders, and we saw the foliage and birds change as we climbed in elevation. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking, however, I was in terrible shape and felt like my legs were going to give out at any time. It took us about 6 hours to arrive at the hut and I haven’t was ecstatic to sit down! I felt like I had just conquered the world, while everyone else had just barely broken a sweat. We spent the night hanging out in the hot spring, admiring the snowcapped mountain and getting to know each other. I made several new friends that night and got closer to others.
That night, the warden came to the hut and told us that the track had closed while we were on it due to weather and that we could stay an extra day or be extremely careful the next day. We decided to trek through the rain. The rivers had rose and the mud was terrible, but we made it out without any problems. The 45kms total were the most strenuous thing I have ever gone through, but afterwards I was ready for the next one. I ended up doing 3 of the great walks, as well as many other hikes. Without the Copland track, I definitely wouldn’t have seen the beautiful nature that I was exposed to.

How can this program be improved?

It was unclear what certain classes would be about when researching my schedule. It would be helpful to have syllabi available when choosing classes, rather than receiving them on the first day of class.

Yes, I recommend
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Discovered a second "home" in New Zealand

Before my experience abroad, the word "home" made me think of my parents house which I grew up in. While studying for almost half a year in New Zealand, I now think of the small student flat that I stayed in as my second home. New Zealand proved to be an adventurous, exciting, and friendly place. Whether I was watching the sunset and yellow eye penguins on a beach near campus, or summiting one of the many cool mountains, I had a smile on my face and a content feeling in my heart. For an outdoor enthusiast, the University of Otago was the perfect choice for a semester full of learning, growing, and fun!

How can this program be improved?

The housing process could have been explained a little better before arrival.

Yes, I recommend
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Otago Experience

This country has everything an adventurous outdoors student could want. Even in the local area surrounding Dunedin, there is so much to explore (if one has a car). The peninsula is packed with great spots to sight see, rock climb, surf, and explore. University of Otago students foster a fun lifestyle that allows for lots of socialization. Overall, the south island offers so many opportunities for all sorts of adventures regardless of the activity.

Yes, I recommend
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Nostalgia and Withdrawals Guaranteed

Not only are all the teachers friendly, but they are incredibly direct and clear with their teaching style. The material covered is both stimulating and enriching, providing a diverse teaching style from the U. S.. Students have 3 teachers, who specialize in their own individual topics, to one course (in sciences) compared to the one in the states. My zoology classes consisted of publish readiness lab writings and field components. Aside from academics, Otago's backyard has the steepest street in the world, beautiful hike/tramp tracks (such as Silver Peaks), and some of the greatest mix of chill and entertaining Kiwis you'll meet. Not to mention incredibly accommodating international housing staff! The beauty of colorful sunsets and nightly milkyway will be missed; hiking/tramping is not the same outside of New Zealand!

How can this program be improved?

There aren't any internships and community volunteer programs are limited.

Yes, I recommend
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Travels Abroad

I have never been the biggest hiker, but I knew if I were going to New Zealand I would have to become one. While abroad I went on the most challenging hike I have ever done. Two of my friends and I set out on a two day forty six mile hike early one Saturday morning. I set out confident, thinking how hard could this be? Boy was I wrong. We endured every weather condition possible; rain, sleet, snow, hail, wind, and occasional sunshine. It was tough and at times I just wanted to give up. However, giving up is not an option when you are miles away from a town. So I pushed on and that day completed the first twenty miles of the forty six mile hike. We stayed the night in a hut and the following morning set out back home. That day was absolutely grueling. I was sore, it was cold but the views made all the hard work worth it. I have never seen anything as spectacular as I did that day. We pushed on and twenty six demanding hours later made it back to the car. The sense of accomplishment after completing a hike I never thought I could do, is a feeling I will never forget.

How can this program be improved?

The communication between the university and I could have been improved. It took quite sometime to hear back from the university when I emailed them. Other than that, I thought the program was fantastic and i would recommend it to anyone interested in studying abroad.

Yes, I recommend
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Amazing Experience

This was the best five months of my life. I was able to experience independence in a safe and somewhat familiar environment. I was able to travel, make friends, and embark on a multitude of outdoor adventures.

How can this program be improved?

I can't think of anything that should change.

Yes, I recommend
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A wonderful, supportive University

Otago University is the best university in the southern hemisphere. The professors are outstanding and love to help international students. Definitely recommend joining the tramping club as it's a great way to go on organized, overnight hikes, and you can also meet a lot of people! Dunedin is a beautiful city and it's pretty easy to travel around the south island. The community is very warm and welcoming and I will always be a scarfie at heart.

Yes, I recommend
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Loved Otago

I studied at Otago for a semester my junior year of college and it was the best 6 months of my life to date. I met incredible Otago students and staff, loved the accommodation provided by Uni flats, overall loved the culture and social scene of Dunedin, and felt like I had an overall incredible experience. There are so many international students at Otago, which was awesome to experience and meet so many different people from different places. Otago has great resources and staff. There is so much to explore in Dunedin and the South Island in general. I loved received e-mails from the Tramping Club, the resources that could be rented at Unipol, such as packs, tents, and so much more. Overall, I had the most incredible experience- met lifelong friends, saw so much, went on amazing adventures, learned a lot, and I can't wait to go back and visit Dunedin and New Zealand as a whole!

How can this program be improved?

Honestly, I loved my study abroad experience.

Yes, I recommend
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University of Otago, Dunedin, NZ

I had an incredible semester at the University of Otago! It was an interesting transition coming from a small school of 3500 students to living in Dunedin and attending a larger institution. Although it was a different dynamic and style of teaching, I enjoyed taking a Communication elective, a Maori cultural class, a Hinduism and Buddhism class and a Zoology science class. It was relatively easy to get adjusted to the larger class sizes and finding my way around campus. I liked living close enough within walking distance from all of my classes. The flats were an awesome place to live abroad and I had a great time getting to know my other flatmates. It was an incredible experience overall and I would recommend it to anyone!

How can this program be improved?

No problem

Yes, I recommend

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Find study abroad programs at the University of Otago. New Zealand's First University! Located in Australasia's true College City with the best access to New Zealand's beautiful scenery.