Baldwin Street – The World’s Steepest

By | April 30, 2011 at 8:41 am | 12 comments | Hiking, Jade, New Zealand, Videos | Tags: , , ,

By Jade Johnston

“The Kiwi’s are always quick to brag about how they have the biggest, oldest, tallest, and best of things – but do you notice how these statements are always followed by – ‘in Australasia’, or ‘in the southern hemisphere?’, they never have any statistics about the world. ”

This was pointed out to us by a British expat who now lives in New Zealand with his kiwi girlfriend, as we were hitchhiking with him south from Hastings, on our way to Wellington. We had never noticed it before, but it is actually a very astute statement. We began noticing how everything was compared to ‘in the southern hemisphere.’

However, New Zealand does have one thing which is certainly comparable on the world stage. And that is: bad urban planning. The city of Dunedin, located on the west coast of the South Island was originally settled by Scottish immigrants, eager to bring a little bit of Scotland with them. The city was modelled after the Scottish capital of Edinburgh – to such a degree that the Edinburgh street plan was pretty much dropped from the sky onto the Otago landscape without too much thoughts regarding the regional topography. The result: the world’s steepest street.

Baldwin street rises from a shocking 30 meters above sea level to 100 meters above sea level, rising at a gradient of about 1 : 5. That’s steep! The sidewalk has actually been replaced with stairs to aid pedestrians, and houses are tilted at comical angles. Tourists take pleasure in driving the poor cars up and down the street, while the rest of the tourist horde takes the steps. At the gift shop at the bottom of the street you can even get a certificate to commemorate your efforts.

The street is also famous for the annual event called “The Gutbuster,” where athletes (and non athletes alike) race to the top of the street and back again. The event usually takes place in February.

When James and I visited Baldwin street, we opted to walk instead of run. We filmed our “hike” and you can view it here! Welcome to Baldwin street, Dunedin.

See more photos of Dunedin!

About the Author

Jade Johnston

Jade is a freelance travel writer from Manitoba Canada. She loves travel and meeting new people has lived in 6 countries and travelled to more than 30. She prefers to travel slowly - taking overland transit or working/ volunteering in the countries she visits. Her motto is that she might never return to this place again, so she has to try to soak up as much as possible. To learn more about the OurOyster project, Google + : Jade Johnston's Google You can also shoot her an email at jade@ouroyster.com

12 Comments

  1. Marie-Line (2 years ago)

    wow and a LONG one! San Francisco has Lombard street, who is claiming the same I think, but seems way shorter. I wonder if they also do bigwheel races on this one :)
    nice with an eels song on the background btw, and your icecream seemed to last forever! :)
    enjoy it downunder, I’ll be around there too in about 2 weeks!

  2. Verda Keniry (2 years ago)

    If you are open to having a guest blog poster please reply and let me know. I will provide you with unique content for your blog, thanks.

  3. Iola Weinzierl (2 years ago)

    What a great resource!

  4. Dunedin – internet, cats and twisted firestarters :: The World Is…. (2 years ago)

    [...] This morning after breakfast we headed up the worlds steepest street. Its ridiculously steep probably again because of the whole “lets copy Edinburgh” notion of city planning. We climbed to the top surveyed the view and then headed to the gift shop where we got a free certificate! (Click here to see a video of us walking the steepest street!) [...]

  5. Dunedin – internet, cats and twisted firestarters :: The World Is…. (2 years ago)

    [...] morning after breakfast we headed up the worlds steepest street. Its ridiculously steep probably again because of the whole “lets copy Edinburgh” notion of [...]

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  7. Bobbi Lee Hitchon (2 years ago)

    So you guys are too cute in that video. I love that you stop to say hello to the cat! I was in Dunedin for like a minute in July, but didn’t seen this street. We should be back at the end of January. It will be a definite road stop!

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      I love Dunedin! Make sure you take the time to check out the awesome wildlife around the Otogo Peninsula as well! They have pengiuns!!

  8. Sound to sound fact 5: steepest street in the world | Heels and Wheels (2 years ago)

    [...] 13 January 2012 This fun fact actually comes from fellow travel bloggers Jade and James at Our Oyster. In a recent post, they wrote about Baldwin Street, the steepest residential street in the world, [...]

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