Dunedin Hospital announcement: What you need to know

Which site has been chosen?* Information taken from the new website for the Dunedin Hospital rebuild.

Dunedin’s new hospital will be built on the Cadbury site and on the block next door to the North which currently contains a Wilson’s carpark. The new site does not include the Otago Daily Times but it does include a Cadbury carpark over the road toward the Railway Station.

When will construction start and when will it be complete?

Health Minister Dr David Clark said today construction would begin before the next election  and the aim was to have it complete by 2026. 1000 workers would be employed on site when construction is in full swing

Why was this site chosen?

On the site for the hospital redevelopment the project organisers said the Wilson’s site gave it a large piece of land close to both the university and the bits of the existing hospital that we will retain, such as the oncology precinct.

The Wilson’s site alone would not have been big enough and buying both it and the Cadbury site provided greater flexibility about where it built the various parts of hospital complex and for further development.

For example, the main part of the hospital – the acute inpatient services building - could be built on either of the two main blocks and a second building for outpatients and day surgery might be built on the other.

How will the site be used?

Two indicative plans have been released, one showing a configuration which makes more use of the Wilson's block and the other of the Cadbury block.

Option one:

A possible configuration for how the new Dunedin Hospital site could be used. Image:...
A possible configuration for how the new Dunedin Hospital site could be used. Image: Newdunedinhospital.nz

Option two:

A possible configuration for how the new Dunedin Hospital site could be used. Image:...
A possible configuration for how the new Dunedin Hospital site could be used. Image: Newdunedinhospital.nz

What is happening to Cadbury World?

Modelez International announced today it plans to close Cadbury World.

Who owns the site?

Mondelez owns the Cadbury site. Mondelez recently closed their factory and had already approached the Ministry of Health to see if there was interest in it as a site for Dunedin Hospital. Negotiations were ongoing with Mondelez.

The site next door which contains the Wilson’s carpark had eight owners and it could take a bit longer to get through all the paperwork to purchase these properties.

How much will it cost?

The cost was commercially sensitive at this stage but the price of the land was not a significant part of the billion-dollar-plus budget.

How is it being paid for?

The purchase would be funded by the Crown. Before the election, the Government dropped the previous government’s plans for a public-private partnership.

How does the purchase process work?

The Public Works Act 1981 governs Crown acquisition of land - by agreement or by compulsory purchase. Where land is compulsorily acquired, the land owner is required to be compensated.

The Public Works Act requires landowners be treated fairly and we are committed to ensuring that does happen.

It is up to the landowners to let their tenants know about the plan to build a new Dunedin Hospital on this site. However there will be little change for the existing businesses for some time yet. There was still a great deal to do before construction began.

Are there any historic buildings or facades to consider on the site? What will be done about them?

There were some older facades on the site which were protected under the District Plan. "Should we wish to demolish then we will go through the proper process.

"We have completed a shading study to confirm that new buildings need not unduly shadow the historic precinct if there is good design."

The design teams would look at the possibility of retaining the Cadbury Dairy Building façade – but were a long way off any detailed plans for the hospital.

What are the next steps?

Image: Newdunedinhospital.nz
Image: Newdunedinhospital.nz

Now that the site is chosen, attention can focus on completing a detailed business Case to the satisfaction of the Government.

That work is scheduled for completion mid-year. An Indicative Business Case has already been approved.

At the same time, it was starting the detailed planning and design process. Building a tertiary hospital the size of Dunedin was very complex. The planning and design process was a "perhaps surprisingly large part of the overall budget - around 20%"

Expressions of Interest for the approximately 150 architects, engineers and other professionals needed to design the hospital had already gone out.

The next phase, of receiving tenders and deciding on the design teams, would occur as soon as the Detailed Business Case is approved. We plan progressively to let the contracts in the second half of this year.

It is likely most design contracts would be let to offshore companies, or to joint ventures of NZ and offshore companies, rather than NZ companies alone.

"This is the largest capital project in the history of the NZ health system. As with other hospital projects it is beyond the resources and capacity of just NZ companies."

Why couldn’t you build on the current hospital site?

The first plan was to replace only the clinical services block. Then it became apparent that the main ward block was in a worse condition than originally thought. At that stage a near-total rebuild became necessary which is why this is NZ’s largest hospital building project ever.

Such a rebuild could, from an engineering perspective, have been built on site. But it would have taken longer, caused building site disruption to a working hospital for about 10 years, necessitated decanting patients throughout that time, and given us a [by then] 50 year old refurbished facility.

Why couldn’t you have built on the Wakari site?

It became very clear the people of Dunedin wanted the new hospital built where the current one is now, in central Dunedin and close to the University of Otago Medical School, and all the other health science education facilities.

Will the new hospital be bigger than the current one?

Only a little. The current hospital is 89,731 square metres with over 5,000 rooms but it is old with very inefficient use of space. The new hospital will be a modern state of the art building designed to fit in with the Southern DHB’s strategy for delivering health services for the next fifty years. Its size is yet to be finalised.

Some aspects of the new hospital will be no bigger than present whereas others such as the number and size of theatres, the number of ED beds and the ICU will be significantly larger.

How many beds will the new hospital have?

About 400, depending how you count them, compared with about 350 [depending how you count them] today. Figures are yet to be finalised. The new hospital is planned to open with some parts of some wards unoccupied, to allow for future expansion.

Will there be enough car parks?

Yes. Car parking can mean two things. First it means parking for those who travel to and from the hospital in to the community or those coming to visit or as outpatients, including those coming from out of town. They come and go.

Secondly it means those travelling to the hospital to do a day’s work. They come and stay. Either way there will be provision for parking, probably as a mixture of free and paid parking.

Will there be any loss of services – e.g. neurosurgery?

No. The range of services currently delivered at Dunedin Hospital is not changing but how they are delivered continues to evolve. The expected models of care on which the new hospital will operate are being defined with Southern DHB staff.

In line with forecasts of future patients who will be older and present with multiple long term conditions, we are likely to see a move to more generalist delivery. This does not mean a loss of specialist services, it simply means having general wards which specialists operate out of.


The only reason given here for declining the Wakari site is a political one. It is stated that the people of Dunedin wanted a central city site close to the University of Otago medical school. When the Dunedin City Council (elected reps) launched a campaign promoting a central city site close to the university, the main grounds used was economic decelopment of the city along with its teaching hospital. There was also an argument made about access - the Wakari site was a little further away, would require bus transport and may be hard to access during snow and ice.
However, the people of Dunedin were never directly polled on site selection.
It seems a very bad idea to me to make a strategic and logistic decision on the basis of perceived popular opinion. I doubt any generals ever won a war like that.
I can forsee terrible disruption of the central city ( along with the IMO ill-conceived central city cycleways), disruption which will continue for many years. There will be no economic benefit to Dunedin from attempting this massive central city hospital re-build. Pity decision-makers are not familar with general systems theory where complex systems ALWAYS stir up Murphy’s law.



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