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Forsyth Barr Stadium

Dunedin, Otago

Home of the The Highlanders

4.0

2.8

Forsyth Barr Stadium (map it)
Anzac Avenue
Dunedin, Otago 9016
New Zealand


The Highlanders website

Forsyth Barr Stadium website

Year Opened: 2011

Capacity: 30,748

There are no tickets available at this time.

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High Times for The Highlanders

Opened in 2011, Forsyth Barr Stadium is the premier sporting facility on the South Island of New Zealand. The stadium was built as a replacement for Carisbrook, the old stadium in the south of Dunedin which played host to the city's outdoor sporting events for over 100 years. With a capacity of 30,000, Forsyth Barr Stadium holds slightly less people than its predecessor, but provides viewing quality that Carisbrook never offered.

There was, and still is, significant opposition to the building and funding of this stadium from a vocal minority of Dunedin's population. The decision to use rate-payer money as a means to pay off the debt incurred by its construction was controversial to say the least and even four years after its completion, there is still a group that maintains the stadium should be sold by the Dunedin City Council.

While the stadium attracts many different events, both sporting and non-sporting, from around the country and world, one of its main residents is the Highlanders Super Rugby team. The Highlanders history dates back to 1996, bringing together the proud provinces of Otago, Southland and North Otago at the inception of Super Rugby as the game turned professional in the same year. While it has changed very much over the years, it still remains the southern hemisphere's top rugby competition outside of internationals.

The past few years have been an exciting time for Highlanders fans. After making the playoffs for the first time in 12 years in 2014, they followed up by winning the championship in 2015. This has brought the fans back in droves and many of the players have become cult-figures around the south. They rode that wave to the semifinals in 2016, before going down to the Lions in South Africa.

Prior to that, the Highlanders have had a mixed history. Their early years were ones marked with success, particularly between 1998 and 2002, where they made the semifinals four times, progressing to the final in 1999. These teams were stacked full of many of the world's best players and the crowds flocked to Carisbrook to see them defend the home turf, on which they were unbeaten between 2000 and 2003. Through the mid-late 2000's the team went into a rebuilding phase and gradually fell further and further into the competition's depths, struggling to make it out of the bottom half. During this time, crowd numbers and support for the team dwindled and the glory days were truly over.

2011 saw the return of ex-Otago All Black Jamie Joseph, this time as a coach and it was with this that the franchise began looking up again. Under Joseph the team started playing a committed brand of rugby and were able to attract some top players to the country's south. With this and the opening of a new indoor stadium in 2012, things have started looking up again.

4.0

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    2

Food and beverages are not cheap, ranging from $5 to $10. At the lower end of this price range you will get your standard stadium snacks such as hot chips and hot dogs, while burgers will cost you a bit more. Alcoholic beverages, on the other hand, are on the upper end of the range, with beer costing $9 and RTDs $8. Non-alcoholic beverages are not quite so expensive, but it would still be advisable to resist purchasing unless you really have to. Combos are also available but are fairly expensive, with all of them priced in excess of $10.

The concessions are of reasonable quality, however, and all are kept in warmers or coolers as necessary. Service is efficient too, with plenty of attendants available for you to purchase from.

Outside food can be brought into the ground as long as they are non-commercial or needed for special dietary requirements. Sealed bottles of water may be brought in, but alcohol, soft drinks, and un-sealed bottles of water may not.

Atmosphere    5

The atmosphere inside the stadium is great and at a big game can be described as nothing short of electric. There is always a general buzz around, and as the seats are so close to the action, you get a far better appreciation for the intensity of the game than you did at Carisbrook.

Each stand has its own gates, so make sure you find out which one your ticket is for, as you cannot get from one stand to the next once you are inside. Everything is well-labelled, however, and despite the fact that there are always a lot of people, it is not hard to find your way around.

The teams will generally begin their warm up routines around half an hour before kick-off, with the Highlanders warming up at the eastern end of the ground. While this is going on a previous Highlanders game will be shown on the video board, usually an exciting win against that day's opponent. As kick off draws closer the PA will run through the Highlanders line up for the match, with each player's photo being displayed on the scoreboards at each end.

You will also hear the Dunedin City Pipe Band, which enters from the eastern end and does a lap around the ground, before forming a guard of honour for the Highlanders when they run out onto the field. This is a nice touch, as it recognizes Dunedin's Scottish heritage.

During the game the Highlanders Super Fans will entertain fans from the sidelines, performing various gymnastic displays. You will also see the Zoo Animals, named for the stand at the western end of the ground, entertaining along the dead ball line in front of the Zoo (area R18).

The best seats are those towards the top of the North Stand. These have the best view, as the stand is steep and you can get a good overview of the whole ground while not feeling as though you are far from the action. Lower down it can be hard to see from one end to the other, since the seats are so close to the ground. The South Stand is good too, and if you can get in the very back row you will have the bonus of being able to see the television screens installed for the corporate areas.

The Zoo provides more of a party atmosphere, and tends to be the stand of choice for Dunedin's large university student population. The tickets are cheaper here, and there is music playing for more of the game, but the view is end on and there is just as much emphasis on the party aspect as the rugby.

Neighborhood    4

Forsyth Barr Stadium is located at the western end of the University of Otago campus, not far from downtown Dunedin in the northern part of the city. Consequently, if you are coming from town or are a student, getting to the ground should not be a problem, and many people walk to games. This only adds to the excitement building up to the game, and you can feel safe walking the streets here, as you can in any area in Dunedin. While the past 12 months have seen an increased crime rate in the city, it is still relatively low compared to other centres. You would be advised to make sure your doors are locked and windows are closed, however.

Dunedin's students are renowned for their partying and binge drinking culture, something which has been of great controversy in recent times. On a Thursday or Saturday night, or during Orientation Week, you can expect plenty of students out drinking, with flat parties on most streets surrounding the university; the clubs in town are also popular destinations. While much of this behaviour is annoying to a lot of the older population of Dunedin, most of it is just that - annoying rather than dangerous. You may, however, not want to allow children to roam the streets of the student area, particularly those in the area of the infamous Castle Street, as this is no place for kids.

On the plus side, the stadium itself is far enough away from the student area that you can get to and from the game without passing through it if you don't want to. And for the most part, the locals are friendly and will always help you if you need directions or advice on things to do. Approaching a drunken student on a Saturday night may not be advisable, but at other times you will find them friendly and laid back; other residents are similar.

With town close by you can spend the day exploring if you wish, and still be able to walk to the game without having to catch a bus or taxi. There is no shortage of things to do, with Dunedin boasting many historic buildings drawing on the city's Scottish heritage. Be sure to check out the railway station, arguably the city's most famous building, which is built behind a picturesque garden. Inside and upstairs you will find the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame Museum, a must see for any sports fan visiting the country.

If you turn around from here and walk up Lower Stuart Street, you will come across Dunedin's city centre, known as the Octagon. This is home to many of Dunedin's bars and clubs, and also St. Paul's cathedral, which is alongside the visitors centre and the iconic Robbie Burns statue. Running through city centre is George Street, the main thoroughfare in Dunedin, which as you head north boasts the majority of Dunedin's shopping outlets, and ends up down at the university. George Street also features the "Champions of the World" store, which sells plenty of Highlanders gear, as well as other rugby merchandise.

Other attractions in the general vicinity include the Otago Museum, which lies on the opposite side of the university from the stadium, as well as the Botanical Gardens, which can be found at the northern end of campus. While not in the immediate vicinity of the stadium, if you have time you would be advised to check out the Otago Peninsula too, as it boasts rare wildlife and many of the city's best attractions. You will want to book a couple of extra days in the city if you do plan to make that trip.

There are plenty of good food outlets around at affordable prices. International visitors will recognize the global fast food brands of McDonald's, KFC, Subway, and Burger King on George Street and in the food court of the Meridian Mall. Fish and Chip shops are located all over the city, but the Flying Squid is located near the stadium and is very popular, as is the Best Cafe. If you are looking for more of a meal, try the Great Taste, located on St. Andrew Street, which is west of the stadium. Here they offer a great buffet at unbelievable prices. Also check out Velvet Burger for high quality gourmet burgers on George Street. There are plenty of other restaurants around town too, ranging from high quality to more affordable.

Fans    5

They say no one does rugby like Dunedin. While crowd numbers dwindled during the down years, the fans have come back in droves and the Highlanders are once again the hottest ticket in town. Both local lifetime fans and visiting students are getting behind this team, and it is these fans that create such an amazing atmosphere at the games. 2016 marks the first time the Highlanders sold out two home games in the same season since moving to Forsyth Barr Stadium. Around town there is a buzz before big games too, something reminiscent of the 1990s.

Highlanders' crowds have never been hostile, but they do provide some good-natured banter from the sidelines, and they get behind their team 100%. Historically Dunedin has been one of the toughest places in the world for an away team to come and play, shown by the incredible winning percentage of home teams, much of which has been put down to the influence of the fans. Like any rugby fan base in New Zealand, Highlanders fans are a knowledgeable crowd and will recognize good, poor, and dirty play accordingly, although perhaps can be a bit biased in this regard, like any crowd.

Access    5

There are absolutely no complaints here, access could not be any easier. The stadium is located in the northern section of the city, within walking distance from town. If you are coming from further away, there are plenty of buses which come to the area from all over the city. Lots of people will drive, and while there are a lot of car parks in the surrounding area, there is plenty of free parking as long as you do not mind walking ten minutes or so. Try heading south of the stadium towards the railway station, but turn left before getting to the station, and then take another left at the roundabout - this area has plenty of places to park, being an industrial area that is relatively deserted at night. If the game is expected to be a popular one, you should plan to get there early, however; if you arrive about an hour beforehand you should be fine, any later and you might have to walk a bit further.

While there can be long queues heading into the stadium, it does not take long to get into the ground, and plenty of labels make it easy to find your seats. Also, there are plenty of bathrooms situated around the stadium which remain clean and available, although you may be better to avoid the half-time rush if you need to go. Handicap access is available if you request it.

Return on Investment    4

Depending on where your seats are, you can get into the stadium relatively cheaply. The middle sections of both the North and South (also known as the Ticket Direct and Speights) stands are more expensive, costing $38.50 for both adults and children. Outside of these though there are tickets available for $28.50 for adults and $12.50 for children, which are not that different from the more expensive ones, especially if you can get higher up; tickets to the Zoo cost between $12.50 and $17.50. Often Starters Bar will run a special where you may get a drink or some form of merchandise if you buy through them, and the lower North stand offers a "Take a Kid to the Highlanders" special, in which an adult and child get in for $23 - with this special an extra adult costs $25, and an extra child costs $6.

The expensive tickets may be a bit over-priced, but the $28.50 option provides a good return on investment. When you consider that you are seeing some of the world's best rugby players, and are in a world-class stadium that regularly serves up exciting games, it is a very affordable evening.

Extras    3

The roof is a big plus, particularly as Dunedin is known for its cooler climate, and can attract heavy rain from time to time. Being indoors also means that the playing conditions are perfect, with no wind or moisture to affect the players. This means teams come to Dunedin with the intention of playing a fast, up-tempo game, meaning you will see plenty of running rugby and an action-packed game.

Tours of the stadium are available for $15 for adults and $10 for children. These tours will take you behind the scenes, including into the players' dressing rooms and warm-up areas, as well as down the tunnel onto the ground, and around the rest of the stadium. They generally last for an hour.

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Crowd Reviews

High on the Highlanders

Total Score: 4.14

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 4

2012 has seen the Highlanders move across Dunedin from the iconic Carisbrook to the brand new Forsyth Barr Stadium. The decision to build the stadium was certainly a very controversial one and there are many in the city who still oppose the idea of having to pay for it. Certainly it doesn’t have the same mana that Carisbrook carried as being one of the most historic stadiums in the world, but it has provided the city with a new lease of life and is attracting big events. I went along to see for myself how the Highlanders would fit in to their new home, with a special interest to see if it would be the top class viewing experience as promised, or whether it was a waste of money as the “Stop the Stadium” group maintained.

awesome stadium

Total Score: 4.71

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 5

I'm so pleased Dunedin went ahead and built this amazing new stadium. The noise from the crowd is amazing the closeness of the seats and the fact that it could be near snowing outside and no one would know because of the roof it has defiantly made going to the rugby in Dunedin alot more pleasant.

Highlander Highlights

Total Score: 4.00

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 4

Opened in 2011, Forsyth Barr Stadium is the premier sporting facility in the South Island of New Zealand. The stadium was built as a replacement for Carisbrook, the old stadium in the south of Dunedin which played host to the city’s outdoor sporting events for over 100 years. With a capacity of just over 30,000, Forsyth Barr Stadium holds slightly fewer people than its predecessor, but provides a viewing quality that Carisbrook never offered.

There was, and still is, significant opposition to the building and funding of this stadium from a vocal minority of Dunedin’s population. The decision to use rate-payer money as a means to pay off the debt incurred by its construction was controversial to say the least, and even three years after its completion, there is still a group that maintains the stadium should be sold by the Dunedin City Council.

While the stadium attracts many different events, both sporting and non-sporting, from around the country and world, one of its main residents is the Highlanders Super Rugby team. The Highlanders history dates back to 1996, bringing together the proud provinces of Otago, Southland and North Otago at the inception of Super Rugby as the game turned professional in the same year. With the competition just shy of 20 years it is coming of age and while it has changed very much over the years, it still remains the southern hemisphere’s top rugby competition outside of internationals.

The Highlanders have a mixed history. Their early years were ones marked with success, particularly between 1998 and 2002, where they made the semifinals four times, progressing to the final in 1999. These teams were stacked full of many of the world’s best players and the crowds flocked to Carisbrook to see their men defend the home turf on which they were unbeaten between 2000 and 2003. Through the mid-late 2000’s the team went into a rebuilding phase and gradually fell further and further into the competitions depths, struggling to make it out of the bottom half. During this time, crowd numbers and support for the team dwindled and the glory days were well and truly over.

2011 saw the return of ex-Otago All Black Jamie Joseph, this time as a coach and it was with this that the franchise began looking up again. Under Joseph the team started playing a committed brand of rugby and were able to attract some top players to the country’s south. With this and the opening of a new indoor stadium in 2012, the fans have begun to come back and the future is a bright one for Highlanders rugby.

High Times for The Highlanders

Total Score: 3.71

  • Food & Beverage: 2
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 3

Opened in 2011, Forsyth Barr Stadium is the premier sporting facility on the South Island of New Zealand. The stadium was built as a replacement for Carisbrook, the old stadium in the south of Dunedin which played host to the city’s outdoor sporting events for over 100 years. With a capacity of 30,000, Forsyth Barr Stadium holds slightly less people than its predecessor, but provides viewing quality that Carisbrook never offered.

There was, and still is, significant opposition to the building and funding of this stadium from a vocal minority of Dunedin’s population. The decision to use rate-payer money as a means to pay off the debt incurred by its construction was controversial to say the least and even four years after its completion, there is still a group that maintains the stadium should be sold by the Dunedin City Council.

While the stadium attracts many different events, both sporting and non-sporting, from around the country and world, one of its main residents is the Highlanders Super Rugby team. The Highlanders history dates back to 1996, bringing together the proud provinces of Otago, Southland and North Otago at the inception of Super Rugby as the game turned professional in the same year. With the competition bringing up 20 years in 2015 it is coming of age. While it has changed very much over the years, it still remains the southern hemisphere’s top rugby competition outside of internationals.

The Highlanders have a mixed history. Their early years were ones marked with success, particularly between 1998 and 2002, where they made the semifinals four times, progressing to the final in 1999. These teams were stacked full of many of the world’s best players and the crowds flocked to Carisbrook to see their men defend the home turf on which they were unbeaten between 2000 and 2003. Through the mid-late 2000’s the team went into a rebuilding phase and gradually fell further and further into the competition’s depths, struggling to make it out of the bottom half. During this time, crowd numbers and support for the team dwindled and the glory days were truly over.

2011 saw the return of ex-Otago All Black Jamie Joseph, this time as a coach and it was with this that the franchise began looking up again. Under Joseph the team started playing a committed brand of rugby and were able to attract some top players to the country’s south. With this and the opening of a new indoor stadium in 2012, the fans have begun to come back. The future is a bright one for the Highlanders, currently boasting the majority of the team that made the playoffs last year for the first time since 2002.

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Local Food & Drink

The Flying Squid  (map it!)

118 Albany St

North Dunedin, Otago 9016

+64 (3) 477 9800

http://www.menumania.co.nz/restaurants/flying-squid

Great Taste  (map it!)

12 St Andrew St

Dunedin, Otago 9016

+64 (3) 479 2088

http://www.greattaste.co.nz/

Local Entertainment

New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame Museum  (map it!)

Anzac Ave

Dunedin, Otago 9016

+64 (3) 477 7775

http://www.nzhalloffame.co.nz/

Otago Museum  (map it!)

419 Great King St

North Dunedin, Otago 9016

+64 (3) 474 7474

http://www.otagomuseum.govt.nz/

Dunedin Botanic Garden  (map it!)

Moray Place

North Dunedin, Otago 9016

+64 (3) 471 9275

http://www.dunedinbotanicgarden.co.nz/

Lodging

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