Study Abroad at the University of Otago in NZ

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The University of Otago is located in New Zealand’s only true student city of Dunedin - the beautiful and compact campus (you can walk everywhere) is home to more than 20,000 students.

The University of Otago is New Zealand’s first university and has a worldwide reputation for research, teaching and academic excellence. When it comes to the weekends the opportunities for adventure are endless.

Studying at Otago will not only equip you with first rate academic skills, it’ll enable you to spread your wings in the South Island of New Zealand, make friendships, and experience life in one of the most unique corners of the world.

  • Ranked 175th in the world (QS World Rankings 2018)
  • Easy location to explore the spectacular South Island of New Zealand in the weekends
  • More than 190 undergraduate and postgraduate programmes
  • One of the top 16 most beautiful campuses in the world
  • Walkability to campus, accommodation, city centre, recreational activities and entertainment

Questions & Answers


based on 37 reviews
  • Academics 6.7
  • Support 8.2
  • Fun 8.6
  • Housing 8.9
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 31 - 37 of 37
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Glow worms

When I traveled abroad to New Zealand one of the best experiences I had was seeing the glow worms at night. Just a short walk from my flat in Dunedin down a little path in the woods you could see what seemed like thousads of glow worms. The glow worms hang from trees and in the dark they look like a bunch of little stars all around you. My friends and I hung out there for a while and enjoyed the view. This was one of the coolest experiences I had while in New Zealand, although there is a lot to see!

How can this program be improved?
If I could change one thing about this program it would be transportation throughout the country. In New Zealand it is sometimes difficult to get from place to place without getting a rental car. There were times when the program did group trips and these were very helpful and cost efficent. Maybe if there were smaller planned trips to different places that you could sign up for it could help students with transportation.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Adventure of a Lifetime

While studying in Dunedin at the University of Otago, I travelled to the peninsula just outside the city, where I saw a variety of spectacular wildlife. There were a colony of Albatross, several sights where penguins came on shore, huge sea lions on the beach, and beautiful scenery to boot. We even ended up finding and helping to rescue an injured penguin!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Backpacking Around New Zealand

I studied abroad at the University of Otago, but the real study abroad experience was being on the South Island of New Zealand. We went on backpacking trips nearly every weekend. Each new place that I was lucky enough to visit, I thought for sure I was seeing the most beautiful place I have ever seen in my life... And then I would round the next bend on the tramp and I had the same thoughts again. If you relish in being outdoors and love the challenge of summiting a mountain or completing a Great Walk, then New Zealand is the place for you, because no where else are you able to get the incredible diversity you can find on one relatively small island. I could not have chosen a better place to study abroad, and I am so thankful for the opportunity that the University of Otago gave me.

How can this program be improved?
Have more chances for international students to interact with Kiwis. We could feel a bit isolated at times being in Uni Flats, with mostly only other international kids.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Best Experience of My Life

When I did a semester abroad in Summer/Fall of 2012 at Otago, I was unsure of what to expect as New Zealand is a westernized nation and there was no language barrier to overcome. However, it turned out to be the greatest 5 months of my entire life. Although I arrived in the middle of winter and had to adjust to no central heating, it was everything I could have imagined. Dunedin was the perfect home base as it was a city with plenty to do for fun in within the city limits, and it was a perfect jumping-off point for all of the incredible adventures the South Island of New Zealand has to offer. In terms of day-to-day activities, we would explore the various mountains around the Dunedin area (both during the day and under the moonlight!). The city is host to the World's Steepest Street in the world that although is a strange boast to lay claim to, was quite a sight to see and even greater of a challenge to climb. The city had a plethora of restaurants and bars to stop at and a beautiful Botanic Gardens to walk through a few blocks from our flats. My friends and I played a couple rounds of golf on a beautiful public course overlooking the pacific ocean, and we also ventured to the beach to test our limits of staying in the frigid water for longer than a few seconds. The weekend adventures truly highlighted my experience, however. I took several trips to Queenstown (the adventure sports capital of world according to Kiwi's), partaking in hiking, biking, skiing, and even bungee jumping. I also went on two, life-changing backpack trips during my time. Our first trip spanned 9 days throughout the northern part of the island. We had to utilize crampons and ice-axes to traverse several alpine passes which led to breathtaking views and a true experience of what natural New Zealand was all about. My second backpack trip also lasted 9 days on the remote Stewart Island, just south of the South Island. A friend and I hitchhiked to Invercargill before ferrying over to the island. The track was difficult to follow with the immense amount of vegetation and tested us mentally with heavy rains for two of the days. We only saw 4 other people the entire trek and I could not have asked for a more perfect way to end my experience. With all of the solitude we had, it allowed me to reflect on my experience on a whole and cherish every moment I had in that beautiful country. Anyone who is interested in beautiful scenery, wonderfully nice people, and has an itch for adventure absolutely must go to New Zealand, because the country is quite literally your oyster.

How can this program be improved?
Sponsored trip for international students to all go to Queenstown to get to know each other and get an introduction to the endless possibilities of activities to do.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Come for Adventure

I came to New Zealand expecting adventure, and was not disappointed. Dunedin is situated so that within 4 hour drive you can reach almost all of the lower half of the South Island. Otago, Canterbury, the West Coast and Southland are all open to exploration even just for a weekend. As an avid backpacker the tramping tracks here are unparalleled by any others I have done in the world. If you are coming to New Zealand to see the country then the University of Otago is the choice. After travelling most of the country (including the North Island) my personal opinion is that national parks on the South Island are the most beautiful. Fiordland, Mt. Aspiring, and Mt. Cook National parks are where I spent most of my weekends.

Even when not travelling Dunedin is a fun city, albeit slightly on the cold and wet side during the winter. The University Flats will likely put you into contact with many like minded international students. It will not be hard to find a good group of friends to go on adventures with. However it does take more work to get to know the Kiwis well. As an international student I found them friendly, but also fairly uninterested in becoming friends. While this was expected, it is was difficult to get entirely immersed in a kiwi lifestyle when you aren't living with them. Kiwi hosts (a local that lives with you in your flat) are great and very helpful.

Academics were different from my home university but not overly so. For the classes that I took (Humanities type classes) the main differences were grading. Most of the weight for the semester comes from the final and a mid-semester essay. Classes were engaging for the most part and generally not too difficult. I cannot speak for more specific science classes however.

Overall you cannot go wrong with this school. It caters to many different interests and you can find something to do almost every weekend. Fed up with going out to town? You can easily drive an hour north and camp on Long Beach and go surfing. Surfing isn't your style? Head to the mountains and go skiing and hang out in Queenstown. Want to get away from civilization? Drive an hour north of Queenstown hike for a day into a hut and you will find yourself about as remote as it gets with only alpine parrots for company. Pairing a good academic school with opportunities to see a lot of what New Zealand has to offer is exactly what the Uni of Otago does.

How can this program be improved?
I would change the exam schedule if I could. Its fairly annoying to have tests spread over an entire month. However it does give you time to travel between tests.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Great Experience!

I had never traveled internationally before but Dunedin was a very easy city to get accustomed to. Great college town. The university is easy to navigate and beautiful! My flat was really nice and close to campus. I was paired with other great international students and a kiwi host that made adjusting to abroad life much smoother. There were a lot of extra curriculars to choose from through the University to keep me involved on campus, too! The classes were larger than at my home university but I never felt I couldn't come to a professor for help. Classes were intellectually stimulating but certainly not overwhelming. Best experience of my life studying abroad here at Otago!

How can this program be improved?
Communication was lacking before I arrived. I was the only one out of my four other flatmates that was not given the name of my kiwi host and the other international students I would be living with. I was also not given a welcoming letter when I checked in, giving my tips and information about the flat. Luckily I learned the necessary things from my flatmates.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Studying at Otago was 'sweet as'!


I would highly recommend making accommodations through Uniflats. Having a Kiwi Host to show me around Dunedin and explain words like "sweet as!" and "jandals" definitely eased my adjustment to New Zealand. It also helped living with other international students who were going thru the same adjustments I was. It didn't take long to grow close to my flatmates and feel like I had a family away from home. Overall, the Uniflats community provided great facilities and a friendly atmosphere.


Coming from a small liberal arts school of 3,000 students where classes are discussion based and the professors know all of their students names, studying abroad at a school of 21,000 students was a harder adjustment than I expected it to be. It wasn't that the classes were more difficult per say, they were just different from what I was used to meaning that I needed to adjust my learning and studying styles.
My largest class at my home university has been 28 students. Here, my largest class had 500 students enrolled in it while my smallest had about 50. Since the classes are so large, each class has a weekly tutorial of about 20 students where a Teacher's Assistant reviews materials and questions can be asked. I found these tutorials helpful as they provided more one-on-one interaction and were more engaging than listening to a lecturer.


From walking along George Street to explore the various cafes, restaurants, bars and shops, to walking on St. Clair and St. Kilda beaches, Dunedin has a lot to offer. The best way to describe it is as a lively college town. It's also easy to travel to other parts of the South Island, like Queenstown, from Dunedin. There's truly no other city in New Zealand that I would have wanted to have this study abroad experience in.

How can this program be improved?
As an exchange student it was easy to meet other international students, but it was more difficult to befriend Kiwis. Although it was easy to get to know know my Kiwi host and a handful of her friends, it would have been nice to have more organized opportunities to meet Kiwis since it was oftentimes just other international students who showed up at the organized events. Since I was taking 100 and 200 level classes that would transfer back to my university, the classes were larger and the Kiwis in my classes were mostly first-years, making it harder to become close friends with them.
Yes, I recommend this program


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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.