We’re back on top and it wasn’t even close

Surveyor Toby Stoff is over the moon after his bid to have Baldwin St’s title restored paid off. PHOTOS: STEPHEN JAQUIERY

Dunedin is once again a world-record holder.

Yes, those out for their Government-mandated daily walk can add the world’s steepest street to their route.

Guinness World Records last night reversed its controversial decision to strip Baldwin St of its claim to fame, admitting its measuring method had been wrong.

The new results confirmed Baldwin Street has the steeper gradient of 34.8%, compared to Ffordd Pen Llech’s gradient of 28.6%.

The street was dethroned by Ffordd Pen Llech in Harlech, Wales, last July.

The backtrack was thanks to months of hard work by Dunedin surveyor Toby Stoff, who argued that because the record-setting bid was measured on the inside verge of a curve, it greatly exaggerated Ffordd Pen Llech’s steepness and disadvantaged Baldwin St, which is straight.

Mr Stoff campaigned hard for his appeal, even travelling to Wales to measure the opposition himself.

This week Guinness said after checking it out, and getting expert opinions, Mr Stoff was right.

In an email to Mr Stoff, Guinness also said it would use the right methodology for all future record bids.

Saying Mr Stoff was happy with the result might be an understatement.

“I was reading through it and I went ‘oh holy crap, you’re kidding me’,” he said.

“Then I went and did a lap of the house.”

He was surprised by the result, admitting he thought his bid had only a one-in-10 chance of succeeding.

It was also a positive given the Covid-19 situation.

“Any little glimmer of sunshine is good.”

He also felt for the people of Ffordd Pen Llech, who he said were “really good people”.

Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins called the decision “great news”, and thanked Mr Stoff for his efforts.

“In these tumultuous times there’s something strangely comforting in having things that are enduring,” he said.

“It holds a place of pride in the city’s psyche and it’s helpful to be able to celebrate that.”

Guinness World Records editor-in-chief Craig Glenday thanked Mr Stoff for helping the organisation come to the right decision.

“We’re very grateful to the Baldwin Street appeals team, led by surveyor Toby Stoff, for making us aware of a rare gap in our stipulations and we’re pleased to see the title return to New Zealand.

“We’re also very grateful to the Ffordd Pen Llech team for their application and good humour throughout this process.”

However, longtime resident Lisa Tate-Manning said the reclaimed title of steepest street did not make a difference, as she thought tourists had continued to visit even while the title was lost.

“I don’t think it stopped people from coming, the street is well-known as a tourist attraction.”

The lockdown had changed the street as there were no more buses or tourists visiting.

“It’s much quieter now.

“I don’t have to worry as much, I was always worried with tourists on the street although they are always very polite.”

– Additional reporting Emma Perry

Otago Daily Times