10 April, 2020
Last updated on 31 August, 2023
Posted by Spaceships Crew
If you’re planning to visit the steepest street in the world on your upcoming road trip, we have some important updates for you. The biggest news happened in June 2019, when Guinness World Records announced that the steepest street in the world no longer was located in Dunedin, New Zealand. From then on the steepest street could be found in Harlech in Wales. Sad news for Kiwis but good news for travellers that were planning a road trip in the UK.
It meant that you could still visit the steepest street in the world in a Spaceships campervan, but it had to be done in a campervan from our mates Spaceships UK & Europe. Roadtrippers in New Zealand could then visit the former steepest street in the world in Dunedin in a New Zealand Spaceships campervan. How weird was that change? But fortunately it has changed again.
Dunedin reclaims record for the steepest street in the world
In April 2020, it was announced that Dunedin's appeal proved to be successful. As of 8 April 2020, the steepest street in the world is Baldwin Street in Dunedin! Dunedin was able to prove that the way the steepest street was measured was incorrect. Independent consultants (industry experts) confirmed that "steepness must be measured by the central axis (the centre line of the road)".
By measuring the steepest street that way it turned out that...
Baldwin Street (in Dunedin) has a gradient of 34.8%
While the gradient of Ffordd Pen Llech (in Wales) is only 28.6%.
Therefore, Dunedin is once again home of the steepest street in the world!
Why did Wales get the Guinness World Record last year?
What happened between mid-2019 and now and why Wales was awarded with this record can be found in the rest of this article. We're just happy that travellers can visit the word's steepest street in their NZ campervan in Dunedin again. Make sure to add it to your travel bucket list, future Space Travellers.
The steepest street in Guinness World Book
16 July 2019 marked the day that the Guinness World Book announced that Baldwin Street, Dunedin was no longer is the Steepest Street in the World and crowned Ffordd Pen Llech in Wales with the title.
The technicality, Baldwin Street had a gradient of 35% while Ffordd Pen Llech had a gradient of 37.45% (measured according to the old way). The Guinness Book measurement was based on the highest gradient over a 10m section of road.
When you are the best at something there will always be challengers, a fact of life. Many steep streets in the world tried to beat Baldwin Street but no one has succeeded. Until that day in 2019. Unfortunately, Wales succeeded in taking the title Steepest Street In The World with a 1000-year old road, originally a rock face located in the seaside resort of Harlech (Wales).
The two roads are not anything alike. Baldwin Street is straight, two-way all the way through and is heavily populated. The one in Harlech meanders through the town, with stretches marked one-way, and parts declared as ‘not safe for motorists.’ Some even refer to the now Steepest Street In The World in Wales as a “sealed over goat track”.
From "We will never surrender" to "veni, vidi, vici"
Harlech’s Ffordd Pen Llech may have won the Guinness World Book title Steepest Street In The World in 2019 but they still don’t have what we have. Baldwin Street isn’t just a steep street, it’s a classic, part of history. And it’s still mega steep: it has a gradient of 35%. Tourists and athletes will still want to visit the iconic street to take fun selfies or cool photos at this steep street in Dunedin. The photo-ops of the views and the architecture are just too good to pass up. It will remain a ‘must-see’ in Dunedin.
We quoted Sir Winston Churchill last year when we published the news of the change to the world record for the steepest street in the world, and due to the fighting spirit of Dunedin residents, we can now quote Julius Caesar. We came, we saw and we conquered. Dunedin successfully reclaimed the world record in April 2020.
Baldwin Street is a classic loved by travellers, runners & conquerors
Baldwin Street has been home to many classic events, attracting thousands of people from around the world.
The Baldwin Street Cadbury Jaffa Race, an annual charitable event where 30,000 Jaffas (candies) are dropped down the slope, each sponsored by one person.
A similar event drops 2,000 tennis balls down the slope and raises money for Habitat for Humanity.
Another notable event is the Baldwin Street Gutbuster. The participants run from the base to the top and back down again, trying to break the 1:56 record set in 1994.
Conquerors of the steepest street include Ian Soanes (stuntman) who rode a motorcycle down Baldwin on one wheel, turned around and rode back up on one wheel.
Harry Willis, 11-years old, climbed the street on a pogo stick. Taking about ten minutes to the top, Willis raised $11,000 for the Ronald McDonald House in Christchurch.
Uh, why is Baldwin Street so steep?
A quick history lesson… The landscape of the 1,150-foot long street came about through a planning error. While laying out the city, city planners mapped out the streets with no regard to topography.
Then, in 1985, journalist and broadcaster, Jim Mora, discovered Baldwin Street as the steepest street and presented it to Guinness World Book. By April 1987, Baldwin Street did beat two streets in San Francisco and grabbed the title The Steepest Street in the World.
Visiting the new Steepest Street in the World (in Dunedin)
See, visiting the “Steepest Street in Dunedin: Home of Many Historic & Fun Events” always has been a New Zealand must-see. Yeah, we know, that name is a bit long. How about if we go for Steepest Street In Southern Hemisphere? Easy to remember. But to be honest, us Kiwis will just keep calling it Steepest Street In The World because that’s what it is in our world.
While losing the 30-year old title in 2019 and getting it back in 2020, Dunedin also holds world records for the most southerly vineyard, the fastest text message on a mobile phone by a blindfolded person, as well as the most people spray-painted simultaneously.
And we have a multitude of beautiful and unique things for the world to see, here in one place, surrounded by beautiful waters, mountains, beaches, and so much more.
Dunedin reclaiming the title Steepest Street In The World probably won’t change your road trip plans much. We just wanted to let you know that officially the Steepest Street In The World can now be found in Dunedin again, so you can cancel your plans for a road trip in Wales. Kidding. Wales is another great place to visit with a campervan from Spaceships UK.
But first, it's time to plan that amazing New Zealand road trip. Make sure to add Dunedin to your itinerary, not just because to see the steepest street in the world, but because there's so much more to do and see in Dunedin. Check out some of our favourite things to do & see in Dunedin.