We like to think of the Segway miniPRO as our ‘hoverboard killer’ because you won’t believe the tasks this little machine can get up to.
Not only have we ridden it effortlessly to the top of all of Auckland’s favourite volcanic cones (Mt Eden, One Tree Hill, Mt Victoria, Mt Albert, and more), we’ve also ridden right to the summit of Mount Maunganui – via the very steep 4WD track.
Yep, we took some photos to prove our mountain climbing prowess.
Side note for international readers: Auckland’s iconic One Tree Hill inspired the U2 song of the same name (found on 1987’s The Joshua Tree album). Bono wrote the song in remembrance of Kiwi-born close friend Greg Carroll, who was killed in a motorcycle accident. When this song was released as a single in 1988 it charted #1 in New Zealand.
Fresh from conquering a selection of Auckland’s tallest volcanos, we set off on a Segway miniPRO in an attempt to climb the world’s steepest street. According to the Guinness Book of Records, Dunedin’s Baldwin Street tops the list for long, steep urban roads. It is very steep.
So, on a bright summers day in 2016 and in the spirit of that most famous of mountain climbing Kiwis – Mt Everest-conquering Sir Edmund Hillary – Philip Bendall made a valiant attempt to knock the bugger off.*
As the air thinned so far up far above the clouds, and as the power of gravity sapped at its energy supplies, the mighty the miniPRO pushed onwards and upwards to ascend….about one third of the way up Baldwin Street. Its motors finally came to a halt as the grade steepened towards 19 degrees (at least 4 degrees steeper than the miniPRO is rated for).
But you’re not going to come across a hill like this very often. Actually, not anywhere else in the whole damn world!
So even if your everyday commuting includes Liverpool Street, Auckland’s steepest, your trusty Segway miniPRO is powerful enough to take you up it. We proved this earlier this year, and took some photos while we were at it. In our excursions the Segway miniPRO also glides effortlessly up the footpaths of Wellington’s steeper streets, too.
But if you do want to get to the top of Baldwin Street without using your trusty legs, then a full-sized Segway PT can take you all the way up to the top.
Kevin Hey, the proprietor of Segway On Q (Queenstown’s Segway Tour business) was the first in the world to do so in 2005 (see the video on YouTube here), and Philip Bendall followed suit a couple of years later.
* “Well, George, we knocked the bugger off” were the first words Hillary spoke to lifelong friend George Lowe on returning from Everest’s summit, together with Tanzing Norgay in 1953.