New Zealand’s Dunedin jokes about losing ‘steepest street’ title

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Media caption“Sorry New Zealand but it’s now our time to shine”

Just as New Zealand is dealing with losing the Cricket World Cup to England, it’s suffered another blow: the country no longer has the “world’s steepest street”.

For years, Dunedin’s Baldwin Street proudly held that title, and was listed in the Guinness Book of Records.

But on Tuesday, the accolade went to a little lane in Wales.

On the heels of the cricket loss, people couldn’t resist joking about the second defeat to the UK within days.

The case for Wales was brought by residents in the town of Harlech, who after hearing about Baldwin Street’s accolade decided to contact the Guinness Book of Records – which duly transferred the title.

Campaigner Gwyn Headley said: “I feel utter relief – and jubilation. I feel sorry for the New Zealanders – but steeper is steeper.”

People on Twitter had abundant suggestions for how Dunedin should deal with the issue.

Change the signs to “Southern Hemisphere’s Steepest Street”?

Or simply get some roadworks under way “to make Baldwin Street a little steeper and grab that title back”?

The gradient of Baldwin Street is 35%. And while that is very steep indeed, it can’t challenge Ffordd Pen Llech’s 37.45%.


Resident Dave Kernahan, known as the unofficial king of Baldwin Street, was caught off guard by the news.

“You are bloody joking,” he told the Stuff news website. The 68-year old has become somewhat of a tourist spectacle himself in recent years thanks to his habit of running and skipping up and down the street as many as 30 times a day.

Still, it seems not everybody is distraught over the Kiwi contender’s sudden decline.

Baldwin Street was the kind of accidental tourist attraction that can be both a blessing and a bit of a nuisance for locals.

“Hallelujah!” was the simple reaction of Tate Manning, cited in the Otago Daily Times. She said she hoped the change would mean fewer busloads of tourists.

A family about to mark their 12-year-old twins’ birthday with a climb of the famous street joked that they might have to doctor their photos to say “second steepest” street, the paper reported.

“It has the honour of being formerly the steepest street in the world,” said the boys’ mother, Ms Ruge. “It’s like ‘the artist formerly known as.'”

Image copyright Dunedin NZ
Image caption Baldwin Street – steep but not steep enough


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