Baldwin Street

Coordinates: 45°50′58″S 170°32′05″E / 45.84944°S 170.53472°E / -45.84944; 170.53472
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Baldwin Street
A house on Baldwin Street
NamesakeWilliam Baldwin
Length350 m (1,150 ft)
LocationNorth East Valley, Dunedin, New Zealand
Postal code9010
North endNorth Road
South endBuchanan Street
Known forWorld's steepest residential street
A woman descends the street.
Baldwin Street is located in New Zealand Dunedin
Baldwin Street
Baldwin Street
The location of Baldwin Street within Dunedin's urban area

Baldwin Street, in Dunedin, New Zealand, is located in the residential suburb of North East Valley, 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi) northeast of Dunedin's central business district. Guinness World Records calls it the steepest street in the world, meaning no street gains more altitude in 10 horizontal metres, measured along the street's centreline.[1]


A straight street slightly under 350 metres (1,150 ft) long, Baldwin Street runs east from the valley of the Lindsay Creek up the side of Signal Hill towards Opoho, rising from 30 m (98 ft) above sea level at its junction with North Road to 100 m (330 ft) above sea level at the top,[2] an average slope of slightly more than 1:5. The lower reaches are only moderately steep, and the surface is asphalt, but the upper reaches are steeper and surfaced in concrete (200 m or 660 ft long) for ease of maintenance (bitumen—in either chip seal or asphalt—would flow down the slope on a warm day) and for safety in Dunedin's frosty winters.

The 161.2-metre-long (529 ft) top section climbs 47.2 metres (155 ft) vertically, an average gradient of 1:3.41.[3] At its maximum, about 70 metres (230 ft) from the top,[3] the slope of Baldwin Street is about 1:2.86 (19° or 35%): in 2.86 metres (9.4 ft) travelled horizontally, the elevation changes by 1 metre (3.3 ft).

For cars it is a dead-end street, but Baldwin Street is linked across the top by Buchanan Street, a footpath following an otherwise unformed (i.e. unpaved) road linking it with Calder Avenue and Arnold Street, which are unformed in their upper reaches where Baldwin is steepest. The streets running parallel to Baldwin are all steep: Arnold Street (1:3.6 or 27.77 %), Dalmeny Street (1:3.7 or 27 %), and Calder Avenue (1:5.4 or 13 %).


Surveyor Toby Stoff in 2021

The street's steepness was unintentional. As with many other parts of early Dunedin, and indeed New Zealand, streets were laid out in a grid pattern with no consideration for the terrain, usually by planners in London. In the case of Baldwin Street (and much of the Dunedin street plan), the layout was surveyed by Charles Kettle in the mid-19th century. The street is named after William Baldwin, an Otago Provincial Councillor and newspaper founder, who subdivided the area.

In 1987, Baldwin Street was recognised as the world's steepest street by the Guinness Book of Records following a two-year campaign by the broadcaster Jim Mora. At the time, Baldwin Street topped two competing streets in San Francisco, which hitherto had held the title of being the steepest streets in the world.[4]

On 16 July 2019, Baldwin Street lost its title of World's Steepest Street to Ffordd Pen Llech, with Baldwin Street being at a gradient of 35%, and Ffordd Pen Llech being at a gradient of 37.45%. Mayor of Dunedin Dave Cull said that the Dunedin City Council could consider altering the signage wording from the world's steepest street to the southern hemisphere's steepest street.[5][4][6]

On 8 April 2020, after an extensive review of an appeal to return the title to Baldwin Street filed by several Dunedin residents led by surveyor Toby Stoff, it was decided that the steepness of the street must be based on the central axis, which meant that Ffordd Pen Llech had a gradient of 28.6% compared to Baldwin Street's 34.8%. This meant that the title of Steepest Street was returned to Baldwin Street.[7][8][9]

Resident reception[edit]

After recognition as the world's steepest street, tourism activity and events at Baldwin Street have greatly increased. The street is a popular destination on tourist buses and travel guides.[6]

Residents have mixed reception to tourist activity on the street. Many residents reported issues with some tourists being disruptive by walking in residents' gardens, lying down on the street, and being unable to turn their vehicles. Other residents have more positive thoughts, enjoying the busy activity and excitement of living on the street.[10][5]

On Ffordd Pen Llech being named the world's steepest street, and a predicted decline in tourists to Baldwin Street, Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan remarked that "it might be a blessing in disguise for some residents fed up with crowds of visitors, trampled gardens and bad driving decisions on the street."[4]

Associated events[edit]

The unicyclist has to lean forward to keep his centre of gravity centred over his unicycle's contact with Baldwin Street, on the steeper concrete covered portion of the street.

The street is the venue for an annual event in Dunedin, the Baldwin Street Gutbuster. Every summer since 1988[2][11] this exercise in fitness and balance involves athletes running from the base of the street to the top and back down again. The event attracts several hundred competitors annually and the race record is 1:56.[12]

In March 2001, a 19-year-old University of Otago student was killed when she and another student attempted to travel down the street inside a wheelie bin. The bin collided with a parked trailer, killing her instantly, and causing serious head injuries for the other student.[13][14]

Information sign at the bottom of the street which reports a gradient of 1 in 2.86 at the steepest point

Since 2002, a further charity event has been held annually in July, which involves the rolling of over 30,000 Jaffas (spherical confectionery-coated chocolate confectionery). Each Jaffa is sponsored by one person, with prizes to the winner and funds raised going to charity. This event follows a tradition started in 1998, when 2,000 tennis balls were released in a sponsored event raising money for Habitat for Humanity.[2]

On 2 January 2010, Cardrona stuntman Ian Soanes rode down Baldwin Street on a motorcycle on one wheel.[15]

On 26 January 2018, 11-year-old Harry Willis raised over $11,000 NZD for the Ronald McDonald House in Christchurch by ascending the street on a pogo stick. The climb took around ten minutes. Willis's effort has since been commemorated with a plaque at the top of the street.[16]

On 10 January 2019, a man rode a Lime scooter down Baldwin St,[17] the same day that the scooters had been introduced to Dunedin and a week after Dunedin's mayor, Dave Cull, had said he was relying "on people's common sense" not to take the scooters down the world's steepest street.[18]

See also[edit]

Other steep streets include:

  • A street in Stilfs in South Tyrol (Italy) has a 40% gradient as indicated by the street sign. This is a residential street and a cul-de-sac.[19]
  • The Côte St-Ange in Chicoutimi, Quebec, Canada with an alleged 33% gradient (about 18°). However this again appears to be down to confusion between slope angle and percentage grade; the street is signed as having an 18% grade.[20]
  • Canton Avenue, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States; it is officially measured to be a 37% grade.[21][22] However, that angle of 37% only extends about 6.5 metres (21 ft), whereas Baldwin Street's steepest part stretches considerably farther.
  • Eldred Street in Los Angeles, United States; one of three streets in Los Angeles between 32% and 33.3%.[23]
  • Filbert and 22nd Streets in San Francisco, California, United States each have 31 to 31.5% (17°) for 60 to 70 metres (200 to 230 ft).[24] Several short pieces of San Francisco streets are steeper, including a 9-metre section of Bradford street paved in 2010 that averages 39–40% grade.[25]
  • Waipio Valley Road (20°7′11″N 155°35′36″W / 20.11972°N 155.59333°W / 20.11972; -155.59333 (Waipio Valley Road)) on the island of Hawaii. As measured by Stephen Von Worley, the road has long sections that measure 30% with peak gradients much higher; some areas up to 45%.[26][27][28][29] This is a paved public road but it is not a residential street and is open only to 4 wheel drive vehicles.
  • Ffordd Pen Llech in Harlech, Wales has a reported slope of 36.6% (rounded to 40% on the warning sign).
  • Muro di Sormano (Wall of Sormano) is a well-known cycling stage in Northern Italy, with a maximum gradient of 27%, included in the Giro di Lombardia cycling race.
  • Paso Florentino in Mexico City has a reported slope of 45%. Car accidents happen frequently on the street because of the inclination.[30]

Many streets in the west of England and in Wales have reported slopes of 33% and higher. Vale Street in Bristol is often also reported as the steepest street in Britain (21.81°/40.02%[31]) and hence may have a slope even steeper than 36.6%. However, these roads are mostly shorter roads than those listed above, with far more frequent turns as opposed to the straight path of Baldwin.



  1. ^ "Baldwin Street in New Zealand reinstated as the world's steepest street". Guinness World Records. 8 April 2020. Retrieved 22 September 2021.
  2. ^ a b c Hamel, A. (2008) Dunedin tracks and trails. Dunedin: Silver Peaks Press. pp. 2.08–09
  3. ^ a b Information panel at bottom of Baldwin Street
  4. ^ a b c Morris, Chris (16 July 2019). "Dunedin loses steepest street title". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  5. ^ a b McNeilly, Hamish (16 July 2019). "A day of ups and downs for the king of Baldwin St". Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  6. ^ a b Morris, Chris (16 July 2019). "Dunedin's Baldwin Street loses steepest world title: Why residents are celebrating". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  7. ^ "Baldwin Street in New Zealand reinstated as the world's steepest street". Guinness World Records. Archived from the original on 8 April 2020. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  8. ^ Kitchin, Tom (8 April 2020). "NZ wins back title of world's steepest street from Welsh challenger". Stuff. Archived from the original on 8 April 2020. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  9. ^ Hudson, Daisy (8 April 2020). "Baldwin St reclaims steepest street title". Otago Daily Times. Archived from the original on 8 April 2020. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  10. ^ "Ups and downs of living on world's steepest street". Stuff. 8 January 2016. Retrieved 25 January 2022.
  11. ^ "Pupil wins gutbuster for third year in a row". Otago Daily Times. 17 February 1993. p. 3.
  12. ^ McNeilly, Hamish (13 March 2008). "Steep task no trouble for Gutbuster winner". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 30 November 2008.
  13. ^ "Students used wheelie bin as sledge in tragic accident". The New Zealand Herald. 1 March 2001. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  14. ^ Dustbin deathThe Guardian, Friday 2 March 2001
  15. ^ "Stuntman conquers Baldwin St". Otago Daily Times. 2 January 2010. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
  16. ^ "Plaque marks Harry's pogo achievement". Otago Daily Times. 6 March 2018. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  17. ^ Findlay, Grant; Small, Zane (10 January 2019). "Watch: Young man tackles Dunedin's Baldwin St on Lime scooter". Newshub. New Zealand. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  18. ^ Satherley, Dan (10 January 2019). "Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull hopes 'common sense' will stop students riding Lime scooters down Baldwin Street". Newshub. New Zealand. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  19. ^ [1] Google Street View
  20. ^ [2] Google Street View
  21. ^ Bob Batz, Jr. (30 January 2005). "Here: In Beechview". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archived from the original on 17 August 2007. Retrieved 11 August 2007.
  22. ^ "Pittsburgh Hills". Western Pennsylvania Wheelmen. Archived from the original on 16 May 2007. Retrieved 11 August 2007.
  23. ^ Getting the Slant on L.A.'s Steepest StreetLos Angeles Times, Thursday 21 August 2003
  24. ^ Baldwin St steeped in controversyOtago Experience (Dunedin City Council newsletter), Issue 3, March 2003, page 5
  25. ^ "A New Steepest Street is Born". The steep part of Bradford St is at 37°44′14″N 122°24′35″W / 37.7373°N 122.4097°W / 37.7373; -122.4097. The rest of the street is around 25% grade, but the short piece is legit: 11.48 vertical feet in 30.9 ft of pavement, or 28.7 horizontal feet. That's measured in a straight line along the pavement; if you measure along the sort-of-centerline the grade is 39.6%.
  26. ^ Jennings, Ken. "Is This Hawaiian Street the World's Steepest Road?", Conde Nast Traveler, 20 October 2014. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  27. ^ Russo, Carla Herreria. "The 10 Steepest Streets In America". HuffPost. BuzzFeed, Inc. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  28. ^ "Waipio Valley Road in HI is the steepest road in the USA". Dangerous Roads. Retrieved 3 May 2021.
  29. ^ Baray, Alexa. "4 Steep U.S. Streets That Will Make Your Palms Sweat". Travel Trivia. Inboxlab, Inc. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  30. ^ "Paso Florentino Street Mexico - One Of The Steepest Road That Causes A Lot Of Accidents". Retrieved 23 November 2022.
  31. ^ Meierhans, Jennifer. "Where is England's Steepest Street?", BBC News, 19 March 2017. Retrieved 19 March 2017.

External links[edit]

45°50′58″S 170°32′05″E / 45.84944°S 170.53472°E / -45.84944; 170.53472