New Zealand is home to the world’s steepest street. In the delightfully Scottish-influenced city of Dunedin on the South Island, Baldwin Street obtains a slope of 19 degrees or 35 percent (that is, travel 2.86 metres for a one metre vertical rise). Over 161 metres, the street rises 47 metres in height. Joggers exercise on the street every day while it is a serious test of car brakes.
Proudly signposted, the superlative claim is supported by entry in the Guiness Book of Records. A shop at the bottom of the street allows you to buy a certificate saying you climbed Baldwin Street.
Indeed, in the annual Baldwin Street Gutbuster, folks race to the top of the street and back again. Some wear fancy dress while others boldly climb riding unicycles.
The explanation has it that town planners in the 1800s laid the city out with neat grid streets from the comfort of their London desks with no regard for the terrain or natural obstacles or without having ever been to New Zealand. The steep portion of the road itself is concreted as asphalt could potentially run in the warmer summer months.
And no…I drove up the street.