The Wellington Cable Car was opened in 1902. Millions of people take this fun red cable car ride each year. In 1933 electricity replaced steam for power. In 1978 the earlier system was replaced by a new Swiss system that is still running today. On top there is an amazing view of Wellington's harbour.
For a great view of the city, ride the Wellington Cable Car from the Botanic Gardens down to the city. The car leaves every 10 minutes and provides some of the most amazing postcard views of the capital city.
You will be able to wait and watch the capital on the loading dock of the car or you can visit the Cable Car Museum that is just steps from the car itself. Or, if these are in your liking, walk just a bit away and get some different views from the other viewing platforms.
The ride will only cost you $1.80 for an adult, $1.00 for a child or $10.00 for a family return. You can pay at the ticket office on Lambton Quay or if coming from the top, you can pay the assistant on the train.
This train was very near my apartment in Kelburn and though we never took it down, many people did. Students frequent the train as it is the most practical way for them to get up the hill.
Built by Upland Estate Real Estate company as a means of transport to the farm land in Kelburn, which upon completion of the Cable car system in 1902 was developed into the suburb it is today.
You might even find yourself on a postcard one day if you ride the train enough. It is possibly the most famous photograph of the city, or atleast the most common one.
A visit without using the Cable Car is only half a visit. It is Wellington’s oldest and most picturesque tourist attraction, and takes you up to the Botanic Garden from where you have a spectacular view over the city and its wonderful harbour.
From Lambton Quay the Cable Car yourneys up the hill under the motorway, through three tunnels and over three viaducts, past Kelburn Park and Victoria University, to the top entrance of the Botanic Garden. It was built by prisoners within four years and completed in 1902.
The Cable Car system was designed by the Dunedin-born engineer James Fulton. It is 785 metres long and raises over 119 metres. The trip up to the top end and the Cable Car Museum in Upland Road takes about three and a half minutes, with three intermediate stops at Clifton Terrace, Talavera Terrace and Salamanca Road. In the early days the two cables’ winding gear was powered by steam, but this was replaced by electricity in 1933.
Due to safety concerns the old system including the original cable cars were removed in 1978 and in October 1979 replaced by a more modern system, designed by a Swiss firm. But the red trams have retained their picturesque old-day charm.
The Cable Car leaves every 10 minutes, weekdays 7am – 10pm, Sat 8.30am – 10pm, Sun and public holidays 9am – 10pm.
Although it is cheaper to buy a return ticket (NZ$ 4.50) think twice. Most people take the ride up the hill and then walk back down to the city through the Botanic Garden. So a single ticket (2.50) is sufficient, a return ticket would be a waste – or become a sponsor of the Cable Car LOL
More info about the history of the Cable Car here
Shortly after our visit the Cable Car was vandalised the first time in its history and could not operate for several hours. Unfortunately the world is full of idiots :-(
Ride the Cable car from Lambton Quay, downtown Wellington, up the hill. There you will find lovely views back over the city and harbour. Also the Botanical Gardens, Carter Observatory and the Cable Car Museum. And yes, there is a coffee shop for refreshments. The small compact shop has very nice coffee at a reasonable rate of $2-80.
Living in Wellington is a matter of getting used to the steep hills and pockets of houses between them. The Cable Car has been used for many years to get up just one of these hills.
It's very cheap and worth the trip up even just for the views.
Mon - Fri: 7am - 10pm
Sat: 8.30am - 10pm
Sun & holidays: 9am - 10pm
Adults: $1.80 (return $3.60)NZDollars
Child & students: $1 (return $2)
The most interesting thing to me in this museum were not the displays of two old cable cars or the winding machinery (see: photo 3) but a film about the modern use of cable cars.
Many people in this city of steep hills have private cable cars. They get them built on their properties when the going gets tough, or because it is nearly impossible to carry heavy groceries up the steep stairs, or because the pet dog gets old, sick or lazy.
They show fascinating examples of totally different cable cars, the people telling their stories and allowing an insight into their properties and technical wonders, not sparing reports about accidents and mishaps with those outdoor lifts that can make life so much easier.
Of course, also the two old waggons (photos 1 and 2) in the two-storey display areas are great, especially the one with the seats outside the wagon. They are both from the early 1900’s.
This popular museum is located in the historic Winding House at the Kelburn terminus of the Cable Car. As you always get to the top of the hill, have a little tour in the museum before you start your walk in the Botanic Garden.
Open daily (except Christmas Day) 9.30am – 5.30pm (from Labour Weekend until Easter, otherwise only until 5pm).
A ride with the RED cable car is a 'must do' activity while visiting Wellington. It is one of the oldest tourist attractions in town and as far as I know the one and only cable car in New Zealand. I'm pretty sure this RED car climbing the Kelburn hill is by far the most photographed spot of Wellington.
A ride from Lambton Quay (in the middle of the shopping centre) to the top of the hill will bring you in 5 minutes to the Botanic Garden (Upland Road Station) . On top is a small museum and you will find a cafe for a cup of coffee or a lunch, while having great views over the city and the harbour.
The car is leaving every 10 minutes from early in the morning till late in the evening. See for opening hours and fares the website.
You should also use the cable car at least once while you’re in Wellington although this probably won’t be for practical purposes.
This travels between Lambton Quay and the Botanic Gardens and runs every ten minutes daily. A return ticket costs $2.50 and the views alone ensure that it’s money well spent.
In operation since 1902, the current car dates from 1979 and offers breathtaking views of the city as well as access to the Botanic Gardens.
The Wellington cable car experience is maybe the less scaring attraction in New Zealand, a country where bungee jumping is the most popular sport after rugby!
Cable cars are old-fashion amusements, and may seem boring and pointless for our modern society where everything can be quickly reached by car.
So, if you feel like experiencing a "vintage" cable car trip in a modern city to run away from nowaday's stress, just have a go.
You'll get a classic view on Wellington skyline, take a picture while the cable car climbs its lane and the city offers itself as a background and then have a look at the uphill elegant area.
My suggestion is to buy a one way ticket (3NZ$) and to go back downtown by walking through the Bothanical Gardens.
This restored historic cable car is one of Wellington's icons. The original steam tramway was replaced by the current electrical cable car in 1978 & is now one of the few remaining of its type in the world. It is one of the great way to get an overview of the city and harbour (on a fine day).
The cable car travels from downtown Wellington, tunneling under the corporate towers of The Terrace and emerges in the leafy hilltop suburb of Kelburn (known for its galleries, craft shops and restaurants). The final stop is the top of the Botanic Garden, after a 610m climb.
They are located at the end of the Cable Car Lane (beside McDonald's), off Lambton Quay, in the heart of Wellington's Central Business District. Cars run every 10 minutes. See Transportation tip for schedule.
If you have a chance, take a visit to the Cable Car Museum @ the top terminus. The museum houses an original cable car & trailer as well as the old winding equipment is located beside the current Upland Road Station. It provides a look at some of Wellington's early history and shows the role the cable car has had on the development of this part of the city. Museum opens daily (except Christmas Day) & admission is free. Visit the museum webpage @ www.cablecarmuseum.co.nz for more information. Phone: (04) 471 0919.
No visit to Wellington is complete without taking a ride in the cable car. The route climbs from the shops of Lambton Quay up past Kelburn Park and Victoria University to the suburb of Kelburn. The final stop is near the Botanical Gardens.
This funicular system reminds me of the ones in Quebec and Pittsburgh. It takes visitors from Lambton Quay (Wellington's main street) up Kelburn. From here, one can visit the Cable Car Museum, the Botanical Gardens, and the Planetarium.
You just need to get to Lambton Quay where the cable car already waits for you to take you up the hill to Kelburn, overlooking the city. (nice spot for taking pictures)
The service has been providing since 1902, there is a tiny museum on the hill with one of the cable cars on display and many souvenirs to buy.
The cable car is a cheap easy way to get to the Botanic gardens (quite a steep walk otherwise). They run frequently and also stop at Victorai University. Stopping at the top at Kelburn, one can wonder to Kelburn shops, where there is a great German bakery.
You have to take a ride on the cable car when you are in Wellington. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, and it takes you from Lambton Quay up to the Botanical Gardens, with 3 stops in between. You will get great views of the city and harbour from the top. There is also a Cable Car Museum with free admission, open 9 AM to 5 PM every day, and a restaurant at the top.
A 1-way trip for adults costs NZ$1.80 and $1 for children/students. A return trip costs double. The cable car runs from 7 AM - 10 PM on Monday through Friday, and 8:30 AM to 10 PM on Saturday and Sunday. You can catch a car every 10 minutes during these times.
I dont know why this "cable car" still exists and I have always been reluctant to use it for almost the entire time I was staying in Wellington. It seemed pointless to me at the time because I thought it didn't go anywhere and wouldn't give me a view like the peak of Mt. Victoria would. However I did in the end fork out the £1.35 (return) and gave it a try.
It was much more than I expected. The Tram stops at various points of the rail to let people on and off...so you can get out, have a look around that area (like the observatory and the botantical gardens) then hop on to the next tram that comes along. The view at the top, as is with all the peaks around Wellington was (some what predictedly) stunning. My camera flashed away again!
I tell you what, it was much better using the cable car than it was to walk, or take a crampt bus up the hill!!! (and quicker to get to the bot gardens). A must if you have some time to kill and you want to see the gardens and observatory...or even just for the view.