Southern District Health Board (Southern DHB)

Was created as the result of the merger of Southland and Otago DHBs over 4 years ago.

Southern DHB is responsible for most publicly funded primary health and hospital services in the Southland and Otago regions of New Zealand.

Southern DHB has a staff of approximately 4,500

As a DHB, they are responsible for planning, funding and providing health and disability services to a population of over 304,268 located South of the Waitaki River. Our catchment area encompasses Invercargill City, Queenstown – Lakes District, Gore, rural Southland, Clutha, Central Otago, Maniototo, Waitaki District and Dunedin City.

Hospital and mental health services are delivered from Southland Hospital (Invercargill), Lakes District Hospital (Queenstown), Dunedin Hospital (Dunedin) and Wakari Hospital (Dunedin).

The Southern DHB and the University of Otago have a long history of co-operation and collaboration. Dunedin was the site of the country’s first Medical School, and medical undergraduate students have trained in Dunedin at Dunedin Hospital since the Founding of the Medical School in 1875. Medical students from the Dunedin School of Medicine have spent time on rotation at Southland Hospital over the last 20 years, and students now spend time in rural hospitals and general practices throughout the region.

Southern District Health Board provides a full range of medical specialities. These are provided for acute presentations and  a wide range of outpatient services. Medicine includes services such as cardiology, respiratory medicine, gastroenterology, rheumatology and neurology.

Dunedin Hospital – is a 388-bed tertiary facility employing over 3,000 staff and servicing an Otago catchment of 181,500. Located in the heart of the city centre, Dunedin Hospital is the tertiary hospital for the lower part of the South Island (inclusive of Southland – providing tertiary services for a combined catchment of 289,000) and is home to all specialties plus a broad array of sub specialties.

The hospital includes Intensive Care, Neo-Natal Intensive Care and Coronary Care Units, eight main operating and two day surgery theatres.  Dunedin Hospital also operates a regional helicopter retrieval service.  Dunedin Hospital has modern radiology services, including MRI, CT, Ultrasound, Nuclear Medicine and interventional radiology. Specialised psychiatric hospital services and services for people with intellectual or physical disabilities are provided from Wakari Hospital (150 beds) and is located about 3km from Dunedin Hospital (a 10 minute drive up the hill).

Dunedin Hospital is a University teaching hospital with very strong links to the University of Otago and the Otago Polytechnic Schools of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Sciences.  Each year, Dunedin Hospital sees 36,000 emergency department presentations, performs approximately 10,200 theatre operations, 1800 births, and  23,000 discharges.

A stand out attraction of Dunedin Hospital is the close working relationship which it shares with the University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic for the provision of education and research. This vital link with the Dunedin School of Medicine (New Zealand’s first, which was established in 1877) sees Dunedin Hospital as a teaching and clinical training hospital and offers opportunities for medical professionals interested in shared research, teaching and clinical work.  The University of Otago, is New Zealand’s oldest and is considered to be the country’s foremost tertiary educator – having earned an enviable international reputation, particularly in Health Sciences.

Southland Hospital – Built in late 2004, is a 181 bed, secondary level 4 base facility situated in Invercargill City which employs 1,500 staff. As a secondary level base hospital, our staff enjoy a broad range of cases which provide good opportunities for those starting off in their careers to gain a wide experience and exposure to clinical cases, whilst also ensuring generalists and experienced staff enjoy a varied and interesting workload.

Southland Hospital services a 108,000 population base providing acute medical and surgical, outpatient clinics, day procedures, 24-hour emergency department, comprehensive ancillary facilities including laboratory, medical imaging, medical diagnostics, specialist paediatric, maternity, rehabilitation and therapy services.    On average per year at Southland Hospital there are 30,000 Emergency Department attendances, 5,000 theatre operations 1100 births and 17,000 discharges.

Southland Hospital is well equipped for its size and features digital radiology technology with MRI and CT capability as well as electronic patient management system. The hospital is a teaching facility, affiliated to the University of Otago and its Dunedin School of Medicine. There are also close ties with the School of Nursing at Invercargill’s Southern Instititute of Technology (which has a zero-fees programme), and with other tertiary educators including Otago Polytechnic.

In addition to offering an innovative and progressive working environment, Southland Hospital is small and intimate enough for new arrivals to quickly get to know not only their colleagues, but also their patients in particular. This is modern medicine practised in the most personalised way possible. And here your professional life is easily balanced with all that Invercargill and the surrounding environs have to offer. Here you will enjoy a clinically challenging and rewarding job combined with a relaxed and satisfying lifestyle.

Southern DHB also operates a smaller 22-bed hospital – Lakes District Hospital – which has a mix of maternity, acute and elderly beds and is located in Queenstown – New Zealand’s adventure capital where tourists come to bungy jump, ski, sight-see and enjoy the locally produced wines.


Dunedin – is the second-largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and the principal city of the Otago Region. While Tauranga, Napier-Hastings and Hamilton have eclipsed the city in population in recent years to make it only the seventh largest city in New Zealand, Dunedin is still considered to be one of the four main cities of New Zealand for historic, cultural, and geographic reasons.

Dunedin is the gateway to Central Otago, New Zealand’s leading tourist resort.  Only an hour’s drive from the city centre to the northern edge of our boundary you will reach Middlemarch, where the Central Otago experience really begins. For many people taking the Taieri Gorge Railway into this historic town is an experience they’ll never forget and where enthusiasts begin their Otago Central Rail Trail experience.

Dunedin is an educated, enterprising, liberal, expressive and intriguing city with a real community spirit that embraces new ideas, new people, new enterprises and the more unique the better. With a proven record of educational and entrepreneurial excellence, it’s a city that fosters innovation and creativity, that revels in its underground arts, music and culture scene and flaunts its dramatic scenery. Dunedin brings out the real you.

Dunedin is about choosing the lifestyle you want – and then living it. It’s about smiling at the people who walk past you, on your own street or on the main street and seeing them smile back at you. It’s about deciding whether you want the ten-minute drive, the 15-minute bike ride or the half hour walk to work. It’s about deciding what to do on the weekend – surf, drink coffee, shop or hike in the mountains just down the road.  Dunedin is about your lifestyle.

Invercargill – is the southernmost and westernmost city in New Zealand, and one of the southernmost cities in the world. It is the commercial centre of the Southland region. It lies in the heart of the wide expanse of the Southland Plains on the Oreti or New River some 18 km north of Bluff, which is the southernmost town in the South Island. It sits amid rich farmland that is bordered by large areas of conservation land and marine reserves, including Fiordland National Park covering the south-west corner of the South Island, and the Catlins coastal region.

A unique feature of Southland’s climate is our long summer nights: they enjoy more daylight hours than any other part of the country.  At the summer solstice, they have nearly 16 hours of daylight.  On a dark, clear night, you may be able to witness the world famous Aurora Australis (Southern Lights).  This magical atmospheric condition is like a spectacular light show in the night sky and results when particles from the sun interact with the earth’s magnetic field.  The resulting electric charge makes the gases in the atmosphere glow red, yellow and green.

Southland is a nature-lovers paradise, as the region contains the world-famous UNESCO World Heritage site of Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, Stewart Island/Rakiura National Park, and the rugged Catlins. Activities such as skiing and snowboarding, mountain biking, jet boating, surfing, tramping (hiking), kayaking and more, are all available in multiple locations about the region, most within minutes of Invercargill city, and the most remote locations being no more than two hours journey by car.

Invercargill, Southland’s capital, is a flat and spacious city situated just minutes from the coast.  It’s a compact city and is easy to find your way around to enjoy the excellent shopping, lively cafes, restaurants and bars, cultural attractions and outstanding nature reserves and parks.

Sport is a major theme for the city, and they have an abundance of sports facilities, including an indoor stadium and cycling velodrome, Olympic size pool, and countless parks and sport grounds. Their major recreational area, Sandy Point, is 2,000+ hectares of recreational land, and caters for both casual and organised recreation, including walking and running trails, mountain bike trails, horse riding, dog sledding, rowing, water skiing, motorcross, motor racing and speedway, field sports, and much more.

The city itself is home to a wide range of heritage and cultural facilities, including the Civic Theatre, Museum and Art Gallery, and Queens Park. The variety and number of heritage buildings in the city centre add to Invercargill’s character.

Known as the ‘City of Water and Light’ due to long summer daylight hours and glorious twilights, and the abundance of their most important natural resource – water, the city reflects the importance of the farming sector it supports

Many streets in the city, especially in the centre and main shopping district, are named after rivers in Great Britain, mainly Scotland. These include the main streets Dee and Tay, as well as those named after the Forth, Tyne, Esk, Don, Thames, Mersey, Ness, Yarrow, Spey, and Eye rivers.

Accommodation and living costs in Invercargill are considerably lower than in other major cities in New Zealand due to the abundance of available land for housing, and gentle landforms, meaning relative ease of housing and infrastructure construction.

Invercargill is favourably placed on the Southern Scenic Route and is the gateway to some of New Zealand’s most beautiful scenery and destinations including the Southland heartland, Stewart Island, Queenstown, Fiordland and the Catlins.