Continuing concerns about visitor behaviour on the world's
steepest street, Baldwin St, Dunedin, prompted reporter
Hamish McNeilly to investigate.
A van struggles to the top of the world's steepest street
yesterday, before a plume of smoke erupts from its engine.
Welcome to the ups and downs of Baldwin St.
Moments before, the fully laden van had scattered dozens of
pedestrians - many posing for photographs in the centre of
The street attracts an estimated 100,000-300,000 visitors
each year, and the behaviour of a minority is concerning
Dunedin tourism operators.
Late last year operators were given tips to improve safety
and satisfaction for Baldwin St visitors.
Issues included camera-wielding tourists blocking the street,
people lying on the street posing for photographs, and the
question ''what happens to Dunedin's reputation if there is
The Guinness Book of Records recognises the street has an
average gradient of 1 in 3.41.
At its steepest section, the gradient is 1 in 2.86.
The Otago Daily Times spoke to some residents,
including one man who keeps an emergency medical kit beside
his front door. It is easy to see why.
The man, who declined to be named, was one of the first on
the scene when a 19-year-old University of Otago student was
killed when the wheelie bin in which she was travelling down
the street struck a parked trailer in 2001.
''I heard the almighty thud outside the door ... it was quite
Two weeks ago, a young man from Jordan cycled down the street
and ''he took his hands off his handlebars and ended up on
''He had spreadeagled his hands and his bike went out of
control and he almost lost every bit of skin off him. I ended
taking him up to the hospital.''
About the same time, an Asian female driver damaged a
late-model car after struggling to turn her vehicle around on
the narrow street, the man, who has lived in the street for
more than three decades, said.
While the street was gaining in popularity each year, the
number of heavy vehicles attempting to drive up the dead-end
street had declined because of a warning sign at the bottom,
In the space of an hour the ODT saw nine tourist
vehicles drive up and down as occupants filmed the trip,
pedestrians blocking the entrance to the street to take
photos, and people lying down on the steepest section as
Footage on video-sharing website YouTube includes a camper
van driver filming himself driving up the street, as well as
a segway being ridden up the street.