Baldwin Street laser scanned in bid to reclaim steepest title

7:20 pm on 7 August 2019

A millimetre-accurate picture of Baldwin Street will soon be available as the battle for the world's steepest street steps up.

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Photo: RNZ / Tim Brown

Technical specialist Lenon Bedford, from Global Survey, has taken a 3D image of the entire street.

The $150,000 scanner, which laser imaged Baldwin Street this morning, will produce measurements to be provided to Guinness World Records in the hope of claiming back Baldwin Street's title as the world's steepest street.

The Dunedin street last month lost the record to Ffordd Pen Llech, in the Welsh town of Harlech, after holding it for three decades.

The Welsh claim was not without controversy as it emerged the measurements were taken from the inside verge of a curve - measurements which surveyors say exaggerated its gradient.

Mr Bedford said today's scan was incomparable to any survey done in the past, including the one from the 1980s which established the street's claim to being the steepest.

"It's millimetre accurate, so rather than capturing one measurement at a time and joining the dots as you would in traditional surveying - this captures a full 3D picture of the scene," he said.

"[Compared to the 1980s measurements] it's infinitely more accurate and more complete. We can look at every stretch of the road and find the maximum gradient."

Mr Bedford said, while he had finished scanning the street, it would take several hours to produce the data the scan yielded.

Dunedin surveyor Toby Stoff, who led the charge to challenge the Welsh record, said he hoped similar measurements would be taken of Ffordd Pen Llech, which would demonstrate - once and for all - which street was the steepest.

"We need to tell Guinness a story and we need to do that with some reasonably compelling evidence and I think probably the best way to do that is to compare the two streets which some really cool visual, empirical survey data."

Mr Stoff planned to travel to Wales later this year to put his claim to the test.

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