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Student Health Dunedin: Sexual Health, Fitness, Fuel and More

Updated: May 5

Welcome to Dunedin! Whether it's your first or final year I hope it's going to be a great one. Every student who moves to Dunedin needs to know how to fuel and nourish your body, exercise, have safe relationships and sex and safe alcohol use to help you enjoy life in Dunedin and have success in your academic studies.

Here are some important student health essentials for your health and well-being while studying in Dunedin.


Nourish and Fuel

Food is an integral role to your physical and mental wellbeing. Eating on a tight budget can mean that you choose energy over nutrients, but it doesn't have to be that way.

Planning ahead with a few simple stir-fries or casseroles can give keep you fuelled and nourished. Some simple, cheap and nutritious meals for include:

  • scrambled egg on toast with avocado and tomato

  • bean, cheese rice burritos

  • stir-fried vegetables with rice or noodles

  • chicken curry with rice and vegetables

  • overnight oats or chia seeds with banana, frozen berries or stewed apple

  • lentil or mince bolognaise with a side salad.

  • chickpea falafel with tzatziki and pita pockets

Cheap sources of protein include: lentils, beans, peanut butter, seeds (chia, flax, pumpkin, sunflower) nuts, canned tuna, salmon and sardines.

Buying fruit and vegetables in season or frozen is cheaper than out of season. Purchasing whole grains such as rice and oats is cheaper than buying processed versions such as processed breakfast cereals and is more nutritious.

Read more about whole foods in Dunedin.

If you haven't already, now is a great time to take up a new interest and learn how to cook. It can be a fun way to be creative and spend time with you flatmates.

student health Dunedin, otepoti integrative health

Movement and FITNESS

Moving regularly helps maintain physical and mental wellbeing. Regular exercise also increases energy levels and decreases fatigue. There are some great ways to move more without spending money:

  • go for a walk with friends or your flatmates

  • explore the city by bike or on foot.

  • There are plenty of free outdoor activities like walking tracks climbing around Dunedin which you can explore. Climb Mt. Cargill, walk the pineapple track or for a longer adventure spend a few nights in the Silver Peaks.

There are also low cost ways to exercise:

  • Many exercise classes offer student discounts in Dunedin such Moana pool membership, and the Resistance Climbing Gym offer students a free first climb.

  • Sign up for a Unipol membership to use the gym, join a sports team, hire sports equipment and more.

UNIPOL, student health Dunedin, otepoti Integrative Health

Relationships and Sex

Living away from home and in close quarters with flatmates can mean that relationship difficulties can arise quickly. It is important to keep communication open and honest, respect each other’s boundaries and manage expectations around living together.

Roommate and Relationship Difficulties

It is common for students to have interpersonal difficulties with flatmates. Have open and honest dialogue with your flatmates about how you will manage living together. Discuss expectations around:

  • noise,

  • food,

  • cleaning,

  • visitors and

  • sharing spaces such as the bathroom, kitchen or lounge.

If tensions start to rise work out a way to resolve it between yourselves that all parties are happy with before bringing in outside help from family or the Student Support Centre.

Sexual Health

It is important that you practice safe sex with each new partner or casual hook-up. Condoms reduce the risk of contracting an STI or causing a pregnancy or becoming pregnant. Hormonal contraceptives, the jadelle or intra-uterine devices are also good forms of contraception for preventing pregnancy

You can get sexual health check-ups, prescriptions for contraception of your sexual health questions and concerns addressed at:

  • Student Health Centre at the University of Otago

  • Student Health Centre at Te Pūkenga Dunedin Campus, and

  • Dunedin Sexual Health clinic.

For a psychosexual medicine clinic you can be seen at Ōtepoti Integrative Health, to explore issues around low sexual desire, female sexual response, pleasure, vaginal dryness, pain during sex, sexual desire mismatch, consent, boundaries and more.

Sexual Assault & Relationship Violence

Unfortunately rape culture, sexual assault and sexual violence is common in New Zealand society and on campus at the University of Otago is no different.

If you are a survivor of sexual assault or sexual violence it is not your fault.

A recent study of 1540 Otago uni students found that 28 percent of students experienced sexual violence, with 15 per cent experienced rape.

Of students affected by sexual violence, one third did not tell anyone about their experience and the other third only told 1 close person.

Sexual assault and violence are often associated with a significant amount of internalised shame, pain and mental distress and can affect your wellbeing and academic studies in a negative way.

It is important to seek help from a health professional so that you can receive both medical care in terms of STI checks, the morning after pill and emotional support and be referred for counselling or other supports as needed.

Disclosing your experience to a health provider does not mean you have to report your experience to police.

University of Otago has a dedicated centre for sexual violence support and prevention called Te Whare Tāwharau. They can:

  • connect you with support services,

  • advocate for you and

  • can advise you of reporting options both on or off campus.

Alcohol and Other Drugs

Many students who choose to come to Dunedin are keen to participate in it's notorious drinking culture. Yes you are an adult, yes you are living away from home often for the first time and you are finally free from the constraints of parental supervision, but do you have to go nuts with the alcohol?

I'm not here to be a second parent, but if your health, mental wellbeing, or sexual wellbeing is suffering due to your alcohol use, then reducing the binge drinking is a good way to start. Common issues with alcohol include increased risk of accidents, injuries, ill effects from hangovers and impaired capacity to consent.

Some ways to reduce your intake includes:

  • Eat food before you go out drinking and while you are drinking to slow the absorption of alcohol.

  • Reduce your alcohol intake by spacing it with non-alcoholic drinks.

If you think you have a problem with alcohol or drugs that you need help stopping see your health provider for more support.

Have a great year and stay well

Being a student in Dunedin can be an incredible experience. Look after your physical and mental health by: fuelling well, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, managing your academic load and stress levels and engaging in activities that your enjoy.

Make sure you know what's supports are available so that when life throws a curveball you can get the help and support needed.

Student Health Centres in Dunedin

is a free service for all students of Otago University. They offer health advice, medical assessments/treatments, mental wellbeing support and psychosocial counselling..

provides full GP services that you would find at your family doctor.

Other online supports

The Lowdown: a free service that supports young New Zealanders experiencing mental health difficulties. Talk to a trained counsellor at the Depression Helpline about how you are feeling or to ask a question.

Dr Deb Brunt @ Ōtepoti Integrative Health and supports students with a holistic approach to your health and wellbeing.

She is a GP who practices lifestyle and integrative medicine in New Zealand and Health coaching internationally. She has a passion for supporting student wellbeing holistically with their health challenges to help them succeed with their studies and experience a joyful life.

Schedule a free health discovery call or clinic appointment with her online.

Let's connect | Facebook and Instagram.


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