660 Castle Street, Dunedin is possibly the best recognized address in New Zealand with Kiwi music lovers.

In 2006 best mates Matiu Walters and Ji Fraser moved into a student flat in Dunedin along with some friends from University College. The two boys had previously spent time jamming in their rooms and thought it’d be good to flat together and get a band going. As the band formed and they started playing shows, they became known as the ‘660 Boys’. They soon had a following with students around the country and their performances drew increasing numbers of enthusiastic fans. When it came to releasing their first EP in 2008, they decided to call their band Six60, in homage to their Castle Street flat, because it was a place that meant so much to them. “That’s where it all began,” Ji told a reporter, “that’s where I wrote my first song, it’s where we had our first practice together. It was the beginning of everything.” He also added that student flats are a rich source of memories and experiencing life there is a special time for many ex-students.


Dunedin is my home town and I lived there for 24 years so I know it well. It is home to the oldest University in New Zealand and also one of the country’s biggest polytechnics. Some of the most prestigious high schools in Australasia are also found here. The city is actually made up of two very different sections. There is the everyday commercial part with George Street being the main street in the CBD. The other Dunedin is found in the northern part of the city with Castle Street being the ‘main drag’. With 21,000 students attending the University of Otago, north Dunedin is a city in its own right. Castle Street has hit the headlines on various occasions for the wild ‘scarfie’ street parties it has hosted. It is also infamous for the alcohol fuelled escapades that have not always gone down well with the police. Living in Castle Street assures a high-octane lifestyle and provides colourful memories to all ex-students who have lived there. Flats on the street display signs declaring names such as “Thottage on Castle Street”, ”Fourplay”, “The Shining on Castle Street”, “Gaybox”, “Fishbowl”, “Juice Box”, but none can come close to the iconic standing of “660 Castle Street”, thanks to the hugely successful Kiwi band named after the street number. In the summer of 2016, the famous flat was refurbished but in May that year fire broke out on the upper floor. The four students inside managed to escape by jumping out the windows. Three were injured as the fire escapes had not been re-installed after the refurbishment.

660 Castle Street, Dunedin (Otago Daily Times)


Six60’s self-titled debut album was released on the 10th of October 2011 on their own Massive Entertainment label. The album debuted at number one in the New Zealand charts and was certified gold within its first week of release. Their first two singles reached number one and number two respectively on the Recorded Music NZ singles chart and were both certified double and triple platinum. In 2018 the band won five Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards and was the most streamed local act on Spotify. Since then, their popularity has continued to rise even further. On the 23rd of February 2019, Six60 became the first New Zealand band to play to 50,000 fans at a sold-out concert at the Western Springs Stadium in Auckland. On 24 April this year, they made history by being the first music act to perform a concert at Auckland’s Eden Park Stadium, again to a capacity crowd of 50,000 fans.


Attachment to flats and to a particular time lived there is common among students. In her welcome back lecture in February 2016, VC Professor Harlene Hayne referred to the “rich deposit of memories between adolescence and adulthood,” and a phenomenon called the “reminiscence bump” that magnifies memories of that time. Six60 returned to Dunedin as supporting act for Ed Sheeran’s Dunedin concert. The three acts that performed at that concert– Mitch James, Six60 and Ed Sheeran – played songs that referred to the importance of specific places in their lives: Mitch’s “Lucid,” Six60’s “Don’t Forget Your Roots,” and Ed’s “Castle on the Hill,” all relate to places that were important to them. Ed’s place is Suffolk, Mitch and Six60 both reference Dunedin; the video of Six60’s “Don’t Forget Your Roots” is, in part, a visual love letter to North Dunedin’s named flats, including 660 Castle Street.  While in town for the Ed Sheeran concert, the Six60 boys stopped by their old flat for a photo. The place continues to have a fond place in their hearts twelve years after moving away from Dunedin.

In July this year, Six60 paid 1.7 million dollars for their former Castle St flat.

The band, along with the University of Otago, announced an agreement at the university’s new School of Performing Arts to offer four $10,000 annual scholarships. As part of the scholarship, recipients will live in the landmark Castle Street flat which will be repurposed to house aspiring performing arts students. ‘‘Owning the house and being able to preserve its mana is something we have always dreamed of, but being able to realise it now is incredible,’’ Matiu Walters said.

Dunedin has one of the best equipped state-of-the-art sound studios in New Zealand so with Six60’s assistance and encouragement, it is just a matter of time before the southern city provides the next chart-topping band or singer/songwriter.

Ceidrik Heward

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