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Spending on the new Dunedin Hospital has reached $37.1 million, well before builders turn up on the construction site.
While the spend may seem high, it is only about 2.6% of the total budget, and reflects work done buying land and designing the $1.4 billion project.
Work is expected to begin in 2020 on the smaller outpatient and day surgery building by St Andrew St, where the Wilson Parking building is located.
The ministry responded to an Official Information Act request, saying the largest outlay so far was on property, which had cost $24.7 million.
But the ministry refused to say which properties were yet to be bought.
Performance, support and infrastructure deputy director-general Michelle Arrowsmith said the release of that information would ''prejudice the ability of the ministry to continue negotiations with landowners''.
The ministry has already bought the Cadbury block between Cumberland and Castle Sts, and land on the block to the north that housed businesses including Lighting Direct and Warehouse Stationery, and a neighbouring property occupied by the Midas vehicle service centre.
It has yet to announce the purchase of the land beneath the Wilson Parking building by St Andrew St, or land at the other end of the block, which has VTNZ and Wilson Parking as tenants.
Ms Arrowsmith said $163,463 had been spent on demolishing two derelict buildings by the former Cadbury car park site, between Castle St and Anzac Ave.
Geotechnical testing of the ground on which the new hospital would be built had cost $82,716.
Employing staff and consultants - including design teams, architects and engineers - had cost the ministry $9.7 million.
Travel costs through Air New Zealand came to $148,037, and included travel for Southern Partnership Group members and ministry employees attending meetings in Dunedin.
Ms Arrowsmith said electricity across all sites had cost $67,310.
That included electricity at the former Cadbury building, where lights were left on for security patrols.
Southern Partnership Group chairman Pete Hodgson said the figure of $37.1 million sounded ''about right'' to him.
He described the spend so far as ''low''.