Dunedin was the first city in New Zealand to become highly industrialised and during the late nineteenth century was the chief commercial centre of the country. This was due in the main to the discovery of gold in the sixties followed by the dredging boom of the late nineties, which stimulated the growth of heavy engineering. During this 30-year period some of the city's largest manufacturing and mercantile firms were established, as well as such trading ventures as the Union Steam Ship Co. For its size, therefore, Dunedin today is well industrialised. Industry is concentrated in the urban area, South Dunedin, and Kaikorai Valley (Burnside and Green Island). A number of consumer-goods industries, such as home appliances, biscuits, confectionery, clothing, beer, furniture, etc., are located here, as well as such major industries as precision and heavy engineering, fertilisers, cement, potteries, freezing works, rope and twine, tanneries, and flourmills.
Dunedin has a valuable asset in its ownership of a hydro-electric station at Waipori. The genesis of the scheme goes back as far as 1900, when a miner secured water-power rights for hydroelectric development of the Waipori River, 28 miles distant by transmission line from Dunedin. He disposed of his rights to a miller, who successfully interested some prominent Dunedin men into forming the Waipori Electric-power Co. in 1902, work commencing in 1903. The Waipori Company's Bill was passed in 1904 and in November of that year the property and rights of the company were transferred to the Dunedin City Council. Power became available from two 1,000-kW generators at Waipori in 1907 to supplement the steam plant operated at Dunedin by the council since 1903. Waipori has since been developed to a capacity of 47,000 kW. As the city acquired the rights to use water power from the company and not, therefore, in terms of the regulations under the Public Works Act, it is not liable to pay the annual water-power rental of 2s. 6d. per kilowatt.
Waipori has been developed, extended, and modified in stages until it now has a capacity of 47,000 kW produced from four stations; No. 2 was commissioned first in 1907, No. 1 in 1930, No. 3 in 1954, and No. 4 in 1955. The No. 1 and 2 stations were linked with Waitaki and the national network in 1935. In 1962 the Dunedin Corporation could supply approximately half its peak load from its own stations and about 42 per cent of the units used. As the corporation purchases the balance of the requirements for Dunedin City from the State on a maximum-demand basis, the ownership of Waipori ensures a very economical electricity supply for the Dunedin consumers. The city has under consideration plans for the further development of Waipori which would more than double the present capacity of this hydro-electric scheme. The drive from Dunedin to Waipori is scenically one of the most beautiful in the country.
The city is well served by air. Since 23 May 1962 Dunedin Airport has been situated at Momona, on the Taieri Plains, a few miles south of the former airport at Taieri, near Mosgiel. All flights in and out of the airport are domestic services, except for the occasional “Operation Deep Freeze” aircraft and some aero-club charter work. Accordingly, the following statistics are for NAC and local services, scheduled passenger and charter, for the year ended 31 December 1964: inward passengers, 49,646, and outward, 50,623; freight, inward, 783,093 lb, and outward, 751,273 lb; mail, inward, 67,000 lb, and outward, 98,300 lb. By March 1965 the increase in air passenger traffic was 15 per cent on that of the previous year.