By Dave Goosselink
There is still three months to go in the university year, but Otago students are already competing for next year's flats.
So there was no shortage of contenders when the opportunity came up to live rent-free in one of north Dunedin's most popular streets.
Crazy competitions are common at Otago University, but there was a serious prize up for grabs this afternoon - $10,000 knocked off the rent bill of a flat just minutes from campus.
"Rent is just so expensive, you know you need to have the balance of life and work and play," says Caitlin Bardell, competition hopeful.
Over 1,000 students entered the competition, the finalists having to complete a series of minor tasks for a crack at the rent rebate offered by a drinks company.
Four first-year guys won top prize. They'll get to live in Dundas St next year, one of north Dunedin's premium locations.
"There's 20,000 students at Otago and the majority live in this area, a whole suburb of students," says Campbell Garry, competition winner.
There's strong competition for student flats, especially those with a long Scarfie heritage. But some are worried the hub of Studentville is under threat.
The Gardies Tavern closed its doors in June after being bought by Otago University. It has also been criticised for a deal to lease a batch of student flats, taking them off the general market.
Fourteen highly-prized flats in Castle St and others close to campus are now under the control of Otago University, which plans to rent them only to international students.
That hasn't impressed those currently living there.
"The general feeling around is that no one's really too happy about it, 'cause it's taking away what Dunedin's got to offer with the whole student city," says Loki McRae, Castle St resident. "No other university in New Zealand really has the culture we have down here."
At least the competition's Dundas St address will remain a student party flat - the prize includes renovations to install an outdoor barbeque and a beer garden.
source: newshub archive