Dunedin City CouncilCommunity profile
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Dunedin City

About the profile areas

The 2018 population for Dunedin City is 126,261, with a population density of 0.38 persons per hectare.


Note: This page displays the area boundaries used for the 2018 Census. In some cases, these are significantly different to the pre-2018 areas. For more on this, see the Census 2018 page.

Location and boundaries

Dunedin City is located on the central-eastern coast and is the second largest city in the South Island. Dunedin City is bounded by Clutha District to the south, Central Otago District to the west, Waitaki District to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the east. Urban Dunedin embraces the Otago Harbour and the surrounding hills flow out to surrounding rural areas. Dunedin City covers 3,286km2 of land.

Name origin

Dunedin’s Māori name is Ōtepoti – which means a canoe-landing place. Dunedin’s pakeha name reflects the early Scottish settlers with Dunedin coming from Dùn Èideann, which is Scottish-Gaelic for Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital.

Profile areas
Dunedin City

Settlement history

Historians track Dunedin’s known past back almost a millenium to 1100 AD. Māori are said to have arrived in the area about this time and archaeological signs show occupation by Māori for a long time prior to the arrival of Europeans. The Otago region is named after the Ngai Tahu village of Ōtākou at the head of the harbour. The seal trade attracted European settlers to Dunedin sometime before 1810 and Otago Harbour would go on to become an international whaling port by the late 1830s. This very early settlement means that Dunedin is one of New Zealand’s oldest cities being established in 1848. But it was the Otago gold rush in the 1860s that set the town alight, generating a population and wealth explosion in Dunedin and the region. In 1869 The University of Otago, New Zealand’s first university, was founded.


Dunedin is easily accessed. State Highway 1 runs through Dunedin linking major towns and cities to the north and the south. Dunedin Airport is a busy domestic airport situated inland, just out of Mosgiel. Bus companies operate between Invercargill, Queenstown and Christchurch providing passenger transport. There is a rail connection to Invercargill and to the north but it is currently limited to freight. Regular bus services provide passenger transport.

Major features

The Harbour and surrounding hills look picturesque today, but Dunedin’s spectacular geography is the result of the city resting on the rim of a long-dormant volcano. The last eruption is estimated to have occurred some 10 million years ago. There are beaches, surf, fishing, mountainbiking and hiking. Accompanying the spectacular landscapes, wildlife is a major attraction where visitors and locals can get close to the communities of Little Blue penguins, yellow-eyed Penguins, fur seals and sea lions scattered along the rugged coast. Dunedin is also home to the world’s only mainland breeding colony of Northern Royal Albatross. Dunedin is also reknown for its stunning historic architecture and proudly boasts New Zealand’s only castle, the historic Larnach’s Castle situated just 20 minutes from downtown Dunedin. The Dunedin Railway Station is another famous architectural landmark. Situated in central Dunedin and built in a flamboyant Flemish-Renaissance-style using white Oamaru limestone and black basalt rock, the station is as ornate and spectacular on the interior as it is on the exterior (it is said that the Booking Hall boasts a mosaic floor with more than 750,000 Royal Doulton porcelain tiles). In 2011, Dunedin welcomed the largest fully enclosed multi-purpose stadium in New Zealand. The Forsyth Barr Stadium hosts many festivals, concerts, and is a top international sporting venue as well as being home to Otago’s beloved Highlander Rugby franchise.

Included areas

The Dunedin profile includes two layers of geography. At the SA2 level you can get full profiles for Abbotsford Andersons Bay, Arthur Street, Bathgate Park - Hillside-Portsmouth Drive, Belleknowes, Brighton, Broad Bay-Portobello, Brockville, Bucklands Crossing, Bush Road, Carlton Hill, Campus North, Campus South, Campus West, Caversham, Concord, Corstorphine, Dunedin Central – Harbourside, East Taieri, Fairfield (Dunedin City), Fernhill, Forbury, Gardens (Dunedin City), Glenleith, Green Island, Halfway Bush, Helensburgh, Kaikorai-Bradford, Kenmure, Kew (Dunedin City), Macandrew Bay-Company Bay, Māori Hill, Maryhill, Momona, Mornington, Mosgiel Central, Mosgiel East, Mount Cargill, Musselburgh, Normanby, North East Valley Chingford, North East Valley Knox, Opoho, Otago Peninsula, Pine Hill-Dalmore, Port Chalmers, Ravensbourne-St Leonards, Roseneath-Sawyers Bay, Roslyn (Dunedin City), Royal Terrace, Saddle Hill-Chain Hills, Seddon Park, Shiel Hill, St Clair, St Kilda North, St Kilda South, Strath Taieri, Taieri, Tainui, Waikouaiti, Wakari, Waldronville, Waverley, and Wingatui