Showing posts with label New Zealand. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New Zealand. Show all posts

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Steepest street in the world

The steepest street in the world has taken everyone by surprise.


It climbs an awesome slope to history in suburban Dunedin, New Zealand - not hilly San Francisco, craggy Cumbria or alpine Switzerland.

Baldwin Street runs off a main road just minutes from the centre of the city. The little street lifts gently then rears up dramatically only to stop dead on the hillside after 34 houses.

A walk up it is a heady experience and shouldn't be missed. Choose the 270 steps past just seven houses or test your calf muscles on the path opposite - the wooden railing helps.

Turn at the top for a conqueror's view of distant hills and traffic far below and, in the serenity above the morning mist, consider why Baldwin Street residents, young and old, remain faithful to their hillside homes.

   On the right day, if the mail is still peeping from the boxes, one of the often reserved inhabitants might come out and explain why the huge macrocarpa hedge has a big, brown scar, why sightseers musn't drive up Baldwin Street, what happened when two new houses were built, or even how one man nearly lost his life.
   Although in a city that dates back to the middle of last century - and was settled by hardy, pioneering Scots who named their hilly, harbour settlement 'Dunedin - Edinburgh of the South' - Baldwin Street didn't yield its secret until 1985. The late discovery may be due to the imperturbable nature of Dunedin citizens. Thirty-three of their streets have gradients of more than 1 in 6, several higher than 1 in 4.

To matter-of-fact residents, Baldwin Street is just another of the city's casually-labelled "steep seven". Dalmeny Street is two streets away and View Street is an important traffic link in the centre of town. Only a modest sign warning motorists to park with their fuel tanks on the upper side acknowledges its grand swoop into Moray Place.

Before the Guinness Book of Records listing, Baldwin Street residents didn't consider steep streets to be a visitor attraction. More likely choices close to home were the Botanic Garden with its rhodedendrons and azaleas, the edge of city walking tracks further along North East Valley or the magnificently architectured Otago University - new Zealand's first. But in 34 houses as individual as New Zealanders themselves, residents stirred uneasily as a new dam broke on Baldwin Street.

Screams from tortured engines, human cries of anguish and sounds of crumpling metal and splitting wood became common as thrill-seekers allowed their vehicles to tell them what their eyes didn't. Cars stall when drivers try to change gear on the hill. As braking power is less rolling backwards than moving forward vehicles often career out of control. That's why the hedge is scarred and wooden street railings have new sections. A low gear whine can be heard as residents move along the gentle slope and up the hill. They know how to approach the climb and can say which vehicles shouldn't tackle the gradient.

A truck driver leaving one of the newest properties clung to the brake pedal and the cab after his lorry flipped forward at the steepest point. Locals held his huge vehicle together with rope until he reached the bottom. Later a resident said: "He is a very lucky man".

Baldwin Street IS steep - maximum gradient 1 in 2.9 angle over 38 degrees.
Afterwards, adventurous victims glance defensively at the concreted section and say: "It doesn't look that STEEP".
Wistfully, old timers remember: It used to be such a quiet street.

Like anyone newly famous, Baldwin Street is trying to come to terms with its status. The Dunedin Visitor Centre doesn't offer promotional literature on the marvel. "The residents wouldn't like it". But ask how to find Baldwin Street and you'll be given directions. Take the Normanby bus to North Road and it's the tenth street past the Gardens corner.

Some wish the street sign 'World's Steepest' didn't exist. They say only a total ban on unauthorised driving will suffice. The annual Gut Buster event in which contestants of all ages race up the monster, is gradually being accepted.
To conclude from this that sightseers aren't welcome on Baldwin Street is understandable. 

But it would be wrong; an underestimation of the helpful nature of friendly Kiwis when they encounter genuine tourists. The 

Japanese who admired an impressive camellia bush was presented with blooms by its owner, residents posed for the camera of a Canadian, and the resident who related the latest needless accident close to his home, didn't hesitate when asked if considerate visitors were welcome .

How well do you know New Zealand?


During your New Zealand travels, you might happen to see or hear a something that is, shall we say, a little different to that which you might experience every day. Take for example, a sign for a hill in Hawke's Bay called "Taumatawhakatangi- hangakoauauotamatea- turipukakapikimaunga- horonukupokaiwhenuaki- tanatahu" meaning "The summit of the hill, where Tamatea, who is known as the land eater, slid down, climbed up and swallowed mountains, played on his nose flute to his loved one"
As well as boasting the world's longest placename (at 85 letters), New Zealand has a number of other interesting, and sometimes quirky attributes such as the world's only living dinosaur, the highest number of golf courses per capita in the world and, more Scottish pipe bands per head of population than Scotland!
If any of these statistics surprise you, then perhaps you'd better check our full list of interesting New Zealand facts before you set out to explore the New Zealand you may only have thought you knew.
  • Less than five per cent of New Zealand's population is human - the rest are animals. This is one of the highest ratios of animals to humans in the world
  • The tuatara, a lizard-like creature found only in New Zealand, is the oldest living genus of reptile in the world. Its ancestry can be traced back 190 million years to the dinosaur age
  • New Zealand's Lake Taupo, was formed by the world's biggest recorded eruption in the last 75,000 years. The dust from the eruption could be seen as far away as Rome and China
  • Frying Pan Lake, near Rotorua, is the world's largest hot water spring, with temperatures reaching 200 degrees Celsius (392 degrees Fahrenheit) at its deepest point
  • The highest temperature ever recorded in New Zealand was 42.4 degrees Celsius (108.3 degrees Fahrenheit) in Marlborough and Canterbury. The lowest temperature recorded was -21.6 degrees Celsius (-6.9 degrees Fahrenheit), at Ophir in Central Otago
  • New Zealand has 15,811km (9824 miles) of coastline, and no matter where you are in the country, you are never more than 128km from the ocean
  • The Maori name for New Zealand is Aotearoa, which translates as "the land of the long white cloud". Legend has it that it was named by the great Polynesian explorer Kupe, when he first sighted the country in 950 AD
  • The first European to discover New Zealand was Dutch navigator Abel Tasman in 1642. Captain James Cook claimed New Zealand for Britain in 1769
  • Team New Zealand's victory in the 2000 America's Cup - sailing’s premier event - was the first time in the regatta's 149-year history that it was successfully defended outside the United States
  • At the time of writing, New Zealand is the world champion in the sports of netball, men's softball and women's rugby
  • There are more golf courses per capita in New Zealand than any other country in the world - with 400 courses, that's one for every 10,000 people
  • There are more Scottish pipe bands per head of population in New Zealand than in Scotland
  • Baldwin Street in Dunedin is known as the steepest street in the world with a maximum gradient 1 in 2.9 angle over 38 degrees
  • New Zealand has a population of four million. Of those, 1.2 million live in the largest city, Auckland
  • New Zealand's indigenous Maori make up 14 per cent of the population. Six percent are Polynesian, and a further six per cent are Asian
  • The total land area, 268,680 sq km (103,738 sq miles), makes New Zealand similar in size to the United Kingdom, and a little smaller than Italy and Japan. The country extends more than 1600 km (1000 miles) along()New Zealand's longest river is the Waikato, which carves 425km (264 miles) through the North Island. The highest mountain, Aoraki Mt Cook, stands at 3754 metres (12316 ft) in the Southern Alps, the backbone of the South Island
  • Almost one third of the country, almost three million hectares (7.5 million acres), is protected in national parks or recreational reserves. Tongariro National Park, with its desert-like plateau and active volcanoes, is a dual World Heritage area - recognising its Maori cultural and spiritual associations, and its volcanic features
  • New Zealanders have a love affair with the sea. Auckland, the City of Sails, has more boats per capita than anywhere in the world with 80,000 privately-owned boats - one for every eight Aucklanders
  • New Zealand's basic currency unit is the New Zealand dollar, known in international markets as "The Kiwi"


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

There are teachers, and there are educators.

A certain private school in New Zealand was recently faced with a unique problem.
A number of 12-year old girls were beginning to use lipstick and would put it on in the bathroom. That was fine, but after they put on their lipsticks they would oress their lips to the mirror leaving dozens of little lip prtints. Every night the maintenance man would remove them and the next day girls would put them back.

Finally the principal decided that something had to be done, She called all the girls to the bathroom and met them there with the maintenance man. She explained that all these lip prints were causing a major problem for custodian who had to clean the mirrors every night. To demonstrate how difficult it had been to clean the mirrors, she asked the maintenance man to show the girls how much effort was required.

He took out a long handled squeegee, dipped it in the toilet, and wiped off the prints on the mirror.

There are teachers, and there are educators....