December 16, 2013

Struth! World's Steepest Street - and it's not the rent

IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says you've got to make sure the handbrake's on and the car's automatic is in P when you park on Baldwin Street in New Zealand's North East Valley just outside Dunedin – because its officially recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the World's Steepest Street.

Just 350m long – or should that be high? – Baldwin Street rises an average 1-in-5 metres, with the steepest part a short 1-in-3 section. And it has a concrete surface because it was feared that if it was bitumen-sealed, on hot days the bitumen could soften and slip down the hill.

And while you might think it perhaps somewhat stupid on the part of the local council to build it in the first place, in fact as was the case in many other parts of developing New Zealand, early Dunedin had no local town planners, and new settlements were simply laid out in grid formats by planners back in London who gave no thought to the local terrain.

In North East Valley's case, it was developed by a local provincial councillor and newspaper founder, William Baldwin who modestly gave his own name to the-now World's Steepest Street.

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