Have you ever had the urge to watch thousands of brightly wrapped spherical cookies rolling down a hill?
You have this chance, once a year in July, when 25 000 Jaffa cookies, popular chocolate and orange flavoured confections, all numbered and wrapped in red packaging, are released from a large box at the top of Baldwin Street, Dunedin, South Island New Zealand, officially the world’s steepest residential street. It’s part of a charity fund-raiser in which the winning cookie earns it’s “backer” a prize and the proceeds from the contest, at a dollar per cookie, go to a deserving cause. The event has been held since 2002.
Another annual summer event is the Baldwin Street Gutbuster, which began in 1988 and attracts several hundred runners who run to the top and back down again, in Duke of York style, except they are jogging and not marching. The course record is 1:56. Who’s up for this challenge?
The distinction of world’s steepest residential street is contested by a number of other streets throughout the world, but the Guinness Book of Records lists Baldwin Street as the steepest. There are many extremely steep streets throughout the world, but this one apparently takes the cake, or rather the Jaffa cookie.
Other contenders for steepest street include: Ffordd Pen Llech in Harlech, Wales; Vale Street in Bristol, England; Canton Avenue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Eldred Street, Los Angeles.
In March 2001 a female student was killed on Baldwin Street when she and another student tried to descend the street inside a wheelie bin, which unfortunately collided with a parked trailer.
The street is only some 350 m long (1150 feet). The steepest section is 1:2.86, which means that for every 2.86 metres travelled you ascend by one metre. The top section, like most very steep roads, is paved in concrete rather than asphalt, which would flow downhill in hot weather.
The street is entirely straight with no curves or bends, and is only moderately steep at the bottom section. It rises from 30 m (98 feet) above sea level, to 100 m (330 feet) at the top.
The severe steepness of Baldwin Street was not intentional. It is in an older suburb of Dunedin some 3.5 km (2.2 miles) northeast of the city centre and was designed by surveyor Charles Kettle sitting in his office in the UK in the mid 19th century. Mr Kettle based his design on the street pattern of Edinburgh, Scotland.
They did things in an odd way those days – planners who had never even been to New Zealand or knowledgeable about the topography, were sitting and drawing up grid plans for the cities and towns there.
Yet of all the designated cities in the whole world, Dunedin is the furthest distant from London, being a little over 19 000 km away! (11 852 miles). The city, which is the capital of Otago province, has some remarkably beautiful buildings as can be seen below:
If you live on Baldwin Street, always check your handbrake:
A daily walk up and down Baldwin Street would certainly keep you in good shape and give your heart, lungs and legs an effective workout without even reaching anywhere near running pace!