Will I be met at Dunedin airport when I first arrive?
Yes, if you are moving into a homestay and have provided the homestay office with your flight details into Dunedin, your host will meet you on arrival and take you to your new home. The homestay office will confirm the airport pick up directly with you by email. Important: If your flight details to Dunedin change please inform your host family immediately on their mobile number that has been provided to you.
If you are travelling to Dunedin with your family members, it is not an expectation for a host to offer transport for your family members into Dunedin. They may need to take an Airport Shuttle due to car size and restrictions around capacity for luggage.
Can I use the internet in my homestay?
All hosts have free unlimited internet access in their homes. You will be provided with the Wi-Fi password on arrival.
Video Conferencing with family and friends is important for your connectivity. If you wish to use your device in the evenings, please keep the volume at a level that does not disturb others in the home. A good time to limit noise is from 11pm each evening so others in the home can sleep.
Will I live near the University?
All host families live in the suburbs of Dunedin and are on good bus routes to the city bus hub. All suburban buses travel to the central bus hub in town. At the central bus hub you can connect with a University bus. As Dunedin is quite a small city it would normally take approximately 20–30 minutes to the bus hub where you can choose to walk to campus or transfer to a University bus.
Will I get breakfast, lunch and dinner in homestay?
Hosts will provide you with breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. You should supply your own snacks. You would normally make your own breakfasts and lunches (ingredients will be provided) and the host will cook you dinner each evening. There is an expectation for you to adjust to New Zealand foods. If you are not requiring dinner one evening, please let your host know this by 4pm if possible.
Will my room have heating?
Houses in Dunedin are of mixed styles, from traditional homes to more modern homes. Host’s homes are all different – most homes do not have central heating. For this reason, your bedroom heater will be a portable type and care should be taken around the positioning of the heater in the bedroom and conserving energy. For health and safety reasons, you can only use the heater that has been provided in your bedroom.
Bedroom heaters must be turned off when you go to sleep and when you leave the room. To leave a bedroom heater running while you sleep is a safety hazard and a cost issue for the host family. For sustainability and cost reasons, there is a limit on the usage of the bedroom heater of five hours each day. Host families trust that you will respect this time frame and if any excessive usage becomes obvious the homestay office may ask you to contribute towards the extra electricity cost.
Will there be locks on the doors?
Most New Zealand homes do not have locks on the internal doors. This is because of fire risk and the safety of all people in the household. However, there will be locks on all bathroom and toilet doors in all homes.
Can my extended family or visitors stay at the homestay for a few days?
Sometimes students travel to New Zealand with their parents or family members. Parents are welcome to visit your host family briefly on the day you move into the home, however the homestay office should be informed in advance that they will be travelling with you and would like to visit. Arrangements are then made with the host family and confirmed with you.
Living in a homestay is for the student only and not for your extended family members. It is important to book your extended family members into a Motel/Hotel as Dunedin becomes very busy at peak periods when all new students are arriving – in particular in February each year. Motels and Hotels can become full during these peak times so we suggest that a booking is made early for your family members.
Visitors and friends are able to visit your homestay but we suggest that you always communicate this with your host family first to check if this is suitable. An awareness must be that this is a private home and not a Hotel/Motel.
Are students expected to assist with chores around the house?
There is an expectation to help with the dishes after a meal and to keep your bedroom tidy. If you make a mess you will be expected to clean it up, e.g. in the kitchen or bathroom in particular. As a part of a Kiwi household, this is the expectation for students from all cultures.
If I want to change homestay how can I do that?
If you are not comfortable and would like to change homestay, please visit the homestay office in person or contact us
You will need to provide one week’s notice to the homestay office prior to the change.
What is "flatting"?
Flatting means that you share a house with other people. They are called flat mates. You share the cost of the rent, food, electricity and telephone and/or internet charges. Houses are owned by landlords.
You can find a house (flat) by:
- Searching for a flat on www.trademe.co.nz under Rentals
- Search for a flat on the University of Otago website under rental accommodation
- Looking in the Saturday edition of the Otago Daily Times newspaper
- Visiting a real estate agent
University of Otago Homestay office staff do not assess or inspect private flats.
Do I need to sign a contract?
You should be aware that once you have signed an accommodation contract with a privately owned hostel or flat, you are bound by that contract. There are financial penalties if you change your mind after signing the accommodation contract.
How much money do I need to live in New Zealand?
In order to live comfortably while you are in Dunedin, you will need to have about $1,250 each month (this is over and above your tuition and accommodation costs).
You will receive some advice from a Student Advisor during orientation an how best to handle your money.
It is important to have some New Zealand cash when you arrive in Dunedin. We advise you to exchange some overseas money into New Zealand money at a larger airport such as Auckland/Wellington or Christchurch, to have this available should you need some immediate cash on arrival.
We strongly recommend that while you are in New Zealand, you do not carry large amounts of cash on your person or leave cash in your room.
We suggest opening a New Zealand bank account as soon as possible after your arrival. There are numerous major banks in the central city which are quite close to the campus area. These banks all have electronic teller machines that will dispense cash 24 hours a day.
Purchasing goods using a bank card is very easy at most retailers. If you have a need to transfer large amounts of cash to or within New Zealand we suggest electronic transfers, online payments or paying by credit card. This is the safest and most efficient method for payment of bills or your University fees.
What happens if I want to take a holiday while I am living in a homestay?
If you take a holiday during the academic/calendar year and are returning to homestay after your holiday, you may do so and the rate paid to the host will remain unchanged during your holiday.
Current homestay residents who are departing at the end of the academic/calendar year may officially leave homestay and reapply for the following year at the homestay office. To return to the same homestay the following year, you must book through the homestay office as a returning resident.
I am an international student under 18 years old – can I take a holiday?
If you plan to take a holiday while living in homestay and you are under 18 years of age, please arrange this with a Student Advisor or contact us at least one week prior to your intended holiday.
Student Advisors will ask your parents to email them allowing the holiday, and also take down your planned itinerary for your intended holiday. Once this is completed, your holiday may proceed as planned. The homestay rate paid to the host will remain unchanged during your holiday if you are returning to the homestay after the holiday.