New book celebrates Dunedin’s scarfie flats

Dunedin's student lifestyle attracts young people from across the country for a mix of studying and partying.

Now one proud tradition of scarfie culture is being celebrated in a new book Scarfie Flats of Dunedin.

It's a few years since Sarah Gallagher was a student at Otago University.

But she's long been fascinated with the eclectic world of scarfie flats.

Working alongside lecturer Ian Chapman, she's compiled those photos and stories into the book Scarfie Flats of Dunedin.

They've collected over 600 flat names going back to the 1930s mapping the destinations by street and era.

"What kind of started as a collection of photos of signs of student flats, ended up becoming something that could lead me into stories behind the flats, and the people that lived there, and the buildings," Ms Gallagher said.  

"There's a few that have hung around for decades, but there are many that come and go each year."

Some of the most famous flats have waiting lists of hopeful tenants.

This colourful mural covering Duke Street's "LegenDairy" flat a nod to the building's previous life.

 "Oh it's awesome ay. I mean there's not really many places like this around the country or probably even the world, that you know who lives in what flat by the name of the flat and stuff," said Lochie Chambers a resident in the flat.

Almost 9000 young people live together in North Dunedin.

Many embrace the tradition tapping into pop culture along with a few double entendres

Co-author Ian Chapman said that is part of it.

"The students are pushing the boundaries, and sometimes the names will be relatively offensive to some. I think you've got to take a fairly expansive and tolerant view to them personally."

Like the residents of this Clyde Street flat who've christened it "The Fresh Catch" in the hopes of a social year.

The state of the flats are a common theme... whether that's a literal description.. or something a bit more ironic.

Former students though remembering their days at Otago with pride.

"And they get really excited about sharing their story. And they get transported back to the time that they were living in that flat, with those people," Ms Gallagher said.

A rite of passage that's now got a permanent record.