South Otago High School

Established in 1926, the school is located on a magnificent and spacious site overlooking the township of Balclutha and the Clutha River. We are about 50 minutes south of the university city of Dunedin. Balclutha is also about three hours by car from Queenstown and the scenic lakes of Central Otago. Emphasis is placed on providing a caring environment where high standards of academic, sporting and cultural excellence are encouraged.

Key Features

  • Co-educational school, Years 9 – 13 (aged approximately 12 – 18)
  • 500 students
  • Wide range or recreational, sporting and cultural activities
  • South Otago High School is the only Year 9 to Year13 secondary school in the Clutha District which is our local area

International Students

The international students programme provides our students with an invaluable insight into other cultures.  South Otago High School accepts fee paying and also exchange students from international organisations. The school regularly hosts international students from Asia, North and South America, Scandinavia, and Europe.

The international links and friendships built have proven positive for both overseas and local students. Accommodation with home stay families is an important aspect of this cultural interchange. A Director assists students and helps cater for all their needs, and visits students on a regular basis, in their home stays, to make sure everything is going well.

International students are supported at South Otago High School by a helpful team of experts. These include Mike Wright (Principal), John Douglas (Dean of International Students), specialist ESOL (English as Second Other Language) teachers, our sports coordinator and a home stay coordinator. Both South Otago High School staff and host parents are very experienced in supporting international students and many of our home stay families have hosted students over many years.

The school provides a quality international programme, which is evident in the success our international students go on to achieve. More and more of our international students are choosing to stay on in the area, and go on to study at Universities such as Otago, where some have recently gained honours degrees. We are confident that we provide these young people with the knowledge and skills that enable them to achieve success, in their adult life, in whatever path they choose.

Academic Programme

International students are accepted at every level from Year 9. A wide range of courses are offered which cater for a variety of needs and interests. Subjects include: English, Mathematics, Mathematics with Statistics and Calculus, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Science, Social Studies, History, Geography, French, Economics, Computer Studies, Accounting, Art, Graphics, Outdoor Education, Physical Education, Music, Technology.

Academic Year

Our Academic year starts at the end of January. There are typically four 10 week terms, with two-week holidays in April, July and September.


The school has excellent facilities enabling it to cater to for a wide range of subjects. These include new science laboratories, music and drama rooms and an information technology suite. Two gymnasiums are available, with squash courts and a weight training room.

Sporting and Cultural Activities

A wide range of co-curricular activities are provided, including music, drama, and an extensive sporting programme. Outdoor Education courses include snow caving, skiing, kayaking and tramping, ski trips and educational field trips are arranged for international students.