University of Otago

As I said, the university was the primary source of income for the city, everything revolved around it and around a third of the cities population were students. Otago University is the oldest in the country and for a long period of time was the southern most university in the world. The central hub of the university named the link housed of the campuses many libraries and a food court for students. The most iconic building on campus was the clock tower, which was one of the first major building constructed in the city and in New Zealand.


Students attending the university are referred to as Scarfies due to the iconic yellow and blue scarves worn by students. However, in Dunedin, Scarfie had its own connotation, referring to a lifestyle lived by many students of share housing in old dilapidated houses, living week to week on student allowances and excessive drinking and partying. It was Scarfies that made the nationally famous Baldwin St party an annual event. Students at Otago University often has what was referred to as a ‘red card event.’ Each person in a household had one per semester. This red card allowed each person one decision that had to be followed by the rest of the household. This decision could be anything from a dare or challenge that either an individual in the house or the entire household had to follow. Alternatively, this decision could be a party on a set date and a theme for that party. For example, red card challenges I have heard of include forcing your three male housemates to all take Viagra, then put on full body spandex  morph suits and attend a mixed gender yoga class. Another challenge that occurred was two households full of guys taking LSD, each filling a backpack with fireworks and then having a fireworks firefight in the cities botanical gardens on Guy Fawkes day, resulting in a fire that destroyed several bushes, due to the decision to have this fight in the savannah land area of the gardens. Another red card which I witnessed myself was student being forced to run naked into the university river in mid winter on a Monday afternoon in front of a crowd of onlookers. Events such as these gave Dunedin a unique culture of its own. Another famous trend amongst students of the university was that of couch burning, which usually occurred when graduating and no longer requiring your old furniture. Dunedin was famous for students having couches that were very much intended to be indoors used as outdoor furniture on peoples porches and balconies. Once they had served their purpose they were stacked and burned. Speights was the drink of choice for students in Dunedin as it was cheap, plentiful, tasted fantastic for the price and was available everywhere, due to being manufactured in town. No evening or afternoon of drinking was ever complete without a carton of speights on hand. If you want to know more about Dunedin and Scarfie culture, then I recommend watching the movie Scarfies



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