Baldwin Street is once again in top place as the World's Steepest Street, after a climb-down by Guinness World Records.
In June 2019, Harlech in North Wales was officially awarded the title for its ancient byway, Ffordd Pen Llech. This was quite a come-down for residents of Baldwin Street in Dunedin, which had held it for almost a decade.
However, in a rare reversal of a decision to award a title, Guinness has officially decided that Baldwin was in fact the steeper – after changing how the gradient is measured.
It was a point raised by one proud group from Otago who were not convinced by Guinness' calculations.
Last year, local surveyor Toby Stoff crowdfunded a trip to for himself and a theodolite to Wales to put an end to the argument. With the aid of a Givealittle page titled "Save Baldwin St" Stoff was able to raise $8,325 for the round trip last November and carry out his own survey to set the record straight.
Stoff claimed the trip was mostly a "bit of fun" he knew would appeal to Kiwi humour, but "when push comes to shove, we'll travel half way around the world."
The argument was that Guinness needed a fairer way to compare the wiggly Welsh street to Baldwin's straight chute. By taking an average of the central line, Stoff argued it would be a fairer way to assess the two streets and any potential challengers.
After six months review of the surveyor's appeal, Guinness conceded saying "in order to fairly assess the different shape of the streets, whether they're straight or curved, steepness must be measured by the central axis."
The new results show Baldwin Street to have the steeper gradient of 34.8%, compared to Ffordd Pen Llech's 28.6%.
"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," Craig Glenday, editor-in-chief at Guinness World Records.
Equally pleased is Toby Stoff, who is celebrating quietly back in Dunedin. It's a small victory and a bit of relief for the Otago city which is responding to the national lockdown. Despite the weather which is making "life a lot easier," Stoff didn't expect too many people to be walking up Baldwin Street for the time being.