Thursday 30 July 2015 9:44am
Students learn to surf at one of the many beaches near the University of Otago's Dunedin campus. Photo: Unipol staff.
A list of six universities rated as top in the world for their proximity to great surfing beaches has included the University of Otago, garnering national media attention and discussion in the twitter-sphere.
The online publication for international students, studyinternational.com, which compiled the list, rated Otago fifth behind Bond University in Queensland, the University of California in the United States, the University of Cape Town in South Africa and the University of Hawaii.
"Often you see wetsuits hanging out to dry on college and flat balconies. This is a good sign that someone has been out catching a wave taking their mind off their studies."
While it may lack the high temperatures of those other cities, Dunedin has "some of the most challenging and rewarding surf breaks that New Zealand has to offer," says the publication.
“So if you want a First Class in Surfing to accompany your degree, the University of Otago is the perfect place for you! From fun beach breaks just minutes from the City Centre, to long, lazy point breaks on the multiple gnarly reefs; whether you’re a timid learner or seasoned thrill-seeker, the range and quality of New Zealand’s coast has a little bit of something for everyone,” says the article.
Unipol Recreation Services provides surf reports and regularly hires out boards and wetsuits. The centre also provides lessons and surfing safaris for groups of up to 10 students at a time to the Catlins coast for domestic and international groups keen to surf.
Unipol Recreation Services Manager Daniel Porter says the more experienced enthusiasts, of which he believes there are many at Otago residing in colleges and flats, have their own gear and regularly surf the local waters.
“Often you see wetsuits hanging out to dry on college and flat balconies. This is a good sign that someone has been out catching a wave taking their mind off their studies,” he says.
“The feedback we do get is that our students have an awesome time out there and that they form their own (surfing) community within the college and flats they are living in.
"Not only is this University a leader as a place to study and research, but the icing on the cake is our location, in one of the most scenic cities in the world."
“The view that the University also attracts people who love to surf due to the close proximity of excellent beaches is also in line with what Dunedin has to offer. We have the most amazing natural and built amenities and once you get out there people can have a lot of fun. It’s just a case of exploring – that’s the beauty of this place, and it’s all right on our doorstep.
“The weather has been hard going lately with this winter, but there’s always going to be waves out there; they put their hoodies and booties on and off they go.”
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Relations) Professor Helen Nicholson says Otago is fortunate to have such an attractive, interesting and multi-faceted destination for both domestic and international students, and this kind of media attention and recognition as a top surfing destination for students is enormously valuable to the University.
“Not only is this University a leader as a place to study and research, but the icing on the cake is our location, in one of the most scenic cities in the world,” she says. “The opportunities to enjoy the fabulous environment here are endless, and Recreation Services at Unipol does a great job of providing a safe conduit and the encouragement for all of the many recreational and sports activities available within just a short distance of the main campus. We really are fortunate.”
This is the latest in a series of international accolades for Otago. In 2013 the University of Otago was rated among the 15 most beautiful campuses in the world by the Huffington Post, while in 2012 the UK’s Telegraph newspaper ranked Otago among the 16 most beautiful in the world.