According to the Guinness World Book of Records, the steepest street in the world is Baldwin Street in New Zealand. If one struggles with hill starts in manual/stick shift cars, this may not be the street to park on (plus it's a dead-end street). New Zealand may be the land of Hobbiton and Middle Earth, but it also has many other less expected attractions to add to one's New Zealand itinerary.
Baldwin Street is located in Dunedin - which is a gateway to seeing the only mainland Albatrosses and local penguins of the area as well as being a stop off while traveling to the adventure capital of Queenstown. The city also enjoys a strong and proud Scottish history - the name is the Gaelic form of the Scottish capital Edinburgh.
Baldwin Street - The Steepest Street In The World
Baldwin Street is located in New Zealand's southern city of Dunedin in its North East Valley. It is only around 2 miles or 3.5 kilometers from the town center.
The street is only around 350 meters or 1,150 feet long but gains an impressive 70 meters or 230 feet in that distance. As for the base, it is 30 meters or 98 feet above sea level while the top is some 100 meters or 330 feet above sea level.
- Length: 350 Meters or 1,150 Feet
- Gain: 70 Meters or 230 Feet
- Average Slope: Slightly over 1:5
- Top Part Slope: 1:3.41
- Steepest Part: 1:2.86
The top part is deeper than the bottom part - so much so that the top part is surfaced in concrete instead of the customary bitumen/asphalt. That is because, on a warm day, the asphalt could start flowing down the hill.
The steepest part of the street has a slope of 19° or 35% which means that for every 2.89 meters or 9.4 feet, the elevation changes by 1 meter or 3.3 feet.
The street is a dead-end street for cars, but there is a footpath at the top. Baldwin Street is the first among equals with the parallel streets also being exceptionally steep. The neighbor streets are Arnold Street (1:3.6), Dalmeny Street (1:3.7), and Calder Avenue (1:5.4).
Why Dunedin Has The Steepest Street
No one planned for Dunedin to have the steepest streets in the world. The city of Dunedin was planned from London to be built in a grid pattern, but the planning was carried out with no consideration of the local terrain. So when the city was built, the plans called for the streets to run straight up the mountains.
- Planning: The City Was Planned Without Regard To Local Terrain
Visiting The World's Steepest Street
As the steepest street in the world, Baldwin Street is something of a local tourist attraction. It has become a popular stop for tourist buses and a number of travel guides.
Come for the local annual event called the Baldwin Street Gutbuster in the New Zealand summer and work up a sweat on the street. Every year since 1988, athletes have come and run from the base of the street and back up to the top.
- Local Event: Baldwin Street Gutbuster
There are various crazy activities that local students in Dunedin do on the street. People have ridden down the street on one wheel on a motorbike, climbed the street on a pogo stick, ascended on a unicycle, and more.
Reinstated As The Steepest Street In The World
For over a decade Baldwin Street was listed as the world's steepest street, but then in June 2019, the award was passed on to Ffordd Pen Llech, in Harlech, Wales. However, the following year in 2020 there was a formal review by Guinness World Records with a comparative survey of the three-dimensional shapes of the Dunedin street and Ffordd Pen Llech. The review came after an appeal by the representatives of Baldwin Street.
- Gradient: 34.8%
- Second Steepest Street: Ffordd Pen Llech, in Harlech, Wales
The outcome of the review it was found that New Zealand's Baldwin Street was indeed steeper with a gradient of 34.8% while Ffordd Pen Llech languished behind with a gradient of 28.6%.
This isn't the first time Wales and New Zealand have been battling over a Guinness World Record with New Zealand coming out on top. New Zealand also has the longest place name in the world with Wales coming in second.
- Canton Ave, Pittsburgh: Listed As The Steepest by World Atlas
A competitor to Guinness World Records, the World Atlas gives the accolade to Canton Avenue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. But Guinness is considered the most prestigious.