Princes Street was developed during Dunedin’s 1860s boom from the gold rush, and consequently is one of New Zealand’s most historic streets. The central region of Dunedin is known as the Octagon. It was once a gully, filled in the mid nineteenth century to create the present plaza. The initial settlement of the city took place to the south on the other side of Bell Hill, a large outcrop which had to be reduced to provide easy access between the two parts of the settlement. The central city stretches away from this point in a largely northeast-southwest direction, with the main streets of George Street and Princes Street meeting at The Octagon. Here they are joined by Stuart Street, which runs orthogonally to them, from the Dunedin Railway Station in the southeast, and steeply up to the suburb of Roslyn in the northwest. Many of the city’s notable old buildings are located in the southern part of this area and on the inner ring of lower hills which surround the central city (most of these hills, such as Maori Hill, Pine Hill, and Maryhill, rise to some 200 metres (660 ft) above the plain). The head of the harbour includes a large area of reclaimed land (“The Southern Endowment”), much of which is used for light industry and warehousing. A large area of flat land, simply known colloquially as “The Flat” lies to the south and southwest of the city centre, and includes several larger and older suburbs, notably South Dunedin and St. Kilda. These are protected from the Pacific Ocean by a long line of dunes which run east-west along the city’s southern coastline and separate residential areas from Ocean Beach, which is traditionally divided into St. Clair Beach at the western end and St. Kilda Beach to the east.
Instrumental classical and jazz ensembles
The Southern Sinfonia is a semi-professional orchestra based in Dunedin. Other instrumental ensembles include the Rare Byrds early music ensemble, the Collegiate Orchestra, and the Dunedin Youth Orchestra. Many schools also hold school orchestras and bands. There are also three brass bands in Dunedin: St. Kilda Brass, Kaikorai Brass, and Mosgiel Brass. The Otago Symphonic Band and City of Dunedin Pipe Band are also important Dunedin musical ensembles.
While English is the predominant language spoken in New Zealand, there are two actual official languages in New Zealand. Maori became an official language in 1987 while in April 2006, New Zealand became the first country to declare sign language as an official language, alongside Maori.
Dunedin lends its name to the Dunedin Sound, a form of indie rock music which was created in the city in the 1980s. At that time, Dunedin was a fertile ground for bands, many of whom recorded on the Flying Nun Records label, based in Christchurch. Among the bands with strong Dunedin connections at this time were The Chills, The Clean, The Verlaines, The Bats, Sneaky Feelings, The Dead C and Straitjacket Fits, all of which had significant followings throughout New Zealand and on the college radio circuit in the United States and Europe. Dunedin has also been home to a number of successful bands since the end of the Dunedin Sound era. Six60, Julian Temple Band, Two Cartoons, Males, Summer Thieves and Albion Place are all good examples of Dunedin bands to have received national and international acclaim in recent years.
Public health and hospitals
Publicly funded primary health and hospital services are provided by the Southern District Health Board (Southern DHB). Dunedin Public Hospital is the main public hospital in Dunedin. Other hospitals include the Mercy Hospital and the Wakari Hospital. The Dunedin Public Hospital and the Wakari Hospital, which are closely related, are operated by Southern DHB. Ambulance services are provided by St John New Zealand.
Dunedin has a substantial public art gallery, the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, in the Octagon. The city contains numerous other galleries, including over a dozen dealer galleries, many of which are found south of the Octagon along Princes Street, Moray Place and Dowling Street. There are also several more experimental art spaces, notably the Blue Oyster Gallery in Dowling Street. Many notable artists have strong links with Dunedin, among them Ralph Hotere, Frances Hodgkins, Grahame Sydney, and Jeffrey Harris.
The climate of Dunedin in general is temperate; however, the city is recognized as having a large number of microclimates and the weather conditions often vary between suburbs mostly due to the city’s topographical layout. Under the Köppen climate classification, Dunedin features an oceanic climate. The city’s climate is also greatly modified by its proximity to the ocean. This leads to mild summers and cool winters. Winter is frosty but sunny, snowfall is common but significant snowfall is uncommon (perhaps every two or three years), except in the inland hill suburbs such as Halfway Bush and Wakari, which tend to receive a few days of snowfall each year. Spring can feature “four seasons in a day” weather, but from November to April it is generally settled and mild. Temperatures during summer can briefly reach 30 °C (86 °F). Due to its extreme maritime influence, Dunedin’s cool summers and mild winters both stand out considering its latitude.