Carter Observatory

Carter Observatory stands at the top of the Botanic Gardens and is a short walk the Cable Car.

Carter Observatory

Carter Observatory

It also possible to access the Observatory from Upland Road. Buses stop on Upland Road and there is pay and display parking on Upland Road next to the Cable Car.

Carter Observatory is open every day from 10 am except Christmas Day. During the school term the Observatory closes at 5pm Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. There are late nights on Tuesdays and Saturdays with a closing time of 9:30pm. On Sundays the observatory closes at 5.30pm.

During school and public holidays the observatory is open until 5:30pm every night with the late nights on Tuesday and Saturday.

Prices for the Southern Skies Exhibition are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, students and Community Service cardholders, $5 for children aged 4 to 16.

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The exhibition galleries explore our solar system and the key New Zealanders who have contributed to astronomy. Visitors can learn about the Māori names for planets and how early Māori used the stars for navigation. There is a theatre that screens two short films on loop about Maui and an introduction to Matariki, the Māori New Year.

There is a small library with astronomy related booked dating back to 1770. The library also has information on Captain James Cook’s observations in 1761 of the Transit of Venus.

The dome, which is visible for the outside of the building, houses a 23cm refractor telescope. This telescope was made between 1886 and 1867 by Thomas Cooke and Sons and has been at the Observatory since 1941. There are public telescope viewings on Tuesday and Saturday nights, weather permitting.

Cooke Telescope

Cooke Telescope

Prices for Planetarium shows, which include the exhibition are $18.50 for adult, $13.50 for seniors, students and Community Service cardholders and $8 for children aged 4 – 16. There are family pass options available.

The planetarium shows are firstly a screening of a digital film, which is followed by a live presentation with one of Carter Observatory’s astronomers looking at New Zealand’s night sky. Planetarium shows generally run for approximately 45 minutes.

There are a variety of digital films screening each day. I watched ‘Dynamic Earth’, a 24 minute film narrated by actor Liam Neeson, which explored the Earth’s climate system.

A tip, it’s best to sit towards the back of the theatre in the middle so you can have a good view of the theatre’s dome.

A board at the entrance to the Observatory advertises Planetarium show times but guests can check the website for specific show times.

Wellington Cable Car

The cable car has been an iconic part of Wellington’s landscape for over a hundred years.

Wellington's iconic cable car

Wellington’s iconic cable car

Wellington Cable Car, orginally called Kelburne & Karori Tramway Company formed in 1898. The company was sold to Wellington City Council in 1947.

The Wellington cable car runs from its CBD terminal on Lambton Quay to the top entrance of the Botanic Garden and the Kelburn lookout. There are three stops along the way, Clifton Terrace, Talavera Terrace and Salamanca Road (stop for Victoria University of Wellington).

The new Kelburn terminal opened 27th February 2014

The new Kelburn terminal opened 27th February 2014

The cable car runs every ten minutes from 7am to 10pm Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 10pm Saturday, and 9am to 9pm Sunday and Public Holidays (closed Christmas Day).

Adults are $4 (uphill – oneway), $3.50 (downhill – oneway), $7 (return). Children are $1.50 (one way) and $2.50 (return). Snapper (Wellington’s public transport card) concessions are available to passengers travelling through Lambton Quay.

Kelburn lookout

Kelburn lookout

The Cable Car Museum is located at the top beside the lookout. The museum is located in the original winding house and is open every day, except Christmas day, from 9:30 am to 5pm. Entry is free.

There is a gift shop and short documentary films on the history New Zealand trams and Wellington city are screened throughout the day.

On display in the museum are two of the three original grip cars. One has been beautifully restored to it’s original 1905 condition and the other to how it would have looked in the 1970s, when it was retired from service. Also in the museum are the giant wheels and original winding gear the pulled the cable cars.

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Grip Car 1, how it would have looked in the 1970s when retired from service

Grip car 3, restored to its 1905 appearance

Grip car 3, restored to its 1905 appearance

After visiting the cable car museum it is an east walk to the nearby Carter Observatory and Planetarium and a nice downhill walk through the botanical gardens back to the city.

Katherine Mansfield Birthplace

Katherine Mansfield Birthplace is the childhood home of celebrated New Zealand author Katherine Mansfield.

Katherine Mansfield Birthplace

Katherine Mansfield Birthplace

Mansfield was born on 14th October 1888 at number 11 (now number 25) Tinakori Road, Thorndon, Wellington. The house was built by Mansfield’s father Harold Beauchamp and three generations of the Beauchamp family lived there from 1888 to 1893.

The house is open six days a week from 10am – 4pm. It is closed Monday, Christmas Day and Good Friday. Adults are $8, Seniors $6, Students and Community Services cardholders $3. Children are free.

Number 25 Tinakori Road, Thorndon

Number 25 Tinakori Road, Thorndon

In the foyer to the house there is a gift shop that sells a range of Mansfield’s works and biographies on Mansfield, as well as a small number of miscellanous items such as postcards, tea towels, and t-shirts.

The self guided tour begins here in the foyer. A booklet is supplied with background information on the various rooms in the house and the garden. Visitors are requested to return the guide book when finished.

Guests can explore the drawing room, dining room, servery, kitchen/family dining room and scullery on the ground floor and the grandmother’s bedroom, children’s bedroom and master bedroom upstairs. The house has been restored with furniture and furnishings of the period making the house an excellent example of what New Zealand home life would have been like in the late 19th century.

Kitchen

Kitchen

Bedroom

Bedroom

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The master bedroom has been converted into an exhibition room. The walls are lined with family photographs and a 50 minute documentary ‘A Portrait of Katherine Mansfield: A Woman and a Writer’ is screened.

The garden has been replanted with flowers and plants that were available in Wellington during 1880s and 1890s. The house and garden are available to hire as a venue for weddings, birthdays, garden parties and other special occasions.

Garden

Garden

 

Old Government Buildings

Located across from Parliament Buildings on Lambton Quay is the Government Buildings Historic Reserve, more commonly known as Old Government Buildings.

Old Government Buildings

Old Government Buildings


Victoria University of Wellington Law School - Government Buildings Historic Reserve

Victoria University of Wellington Law School – Government Buildings Historic Reserve

This four floor, wooden Neo-Renaissance style building was built between 1875 and 1876, and is the largest wooden building in New Zealand. In fact, until 1998, it was the second largest wooden building in the world, behind Tōdai-ji, the Buddhist temple in Nara, Japan.

The building was designed to house the public service sector. Also between 1876 and 1921, it was home to the Government cabinet, which regularly met in the Cabinet Room on the first floor. The Cabinet Room is open to the public to view when not occupied.

The cabinet room

The cabinet room

By 1990, the last of the public service departments had moved out ending 114 years of government service at number 15 Lambton Quay.

The condition of the building had deteriorated by the 1990s and in 1994 the Department of Conservation began a 2 year restoration project. In 1996, following the restoration, Victoria University of Wellington’s Law School moved in.

Today visitors may visit the grounds, marvel at the rich golden-honey kauri clad interiors, stunning staircases, and cast iron fireplaces, and explore the historical displays on the ground floor, and the Cabinet room on the first floor.

The building is open 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. Private areas leased to the University are marked with no public access signage.

The kauri clad interiors and staircases

The kauri clad interiors and staircases


A historical display depicting an 1880s Government Buildings messenger returning ledgers to the Vault

A display depicts an 1880s Government Buildings messenger returning ledgers to the Vault

Parliament Buildings

You really can’t visit New Zealand’s Capital City without visiting Parliament Buildings.

Parliament Gates

Parliament Gates

Parliament Buildings, located on the corner of Lambton Quay and Molesworth Street, consists of Parliament House, The Beehive, the Parliamentary Library and Bowen House.

The Beehive, Parliament House , Parliamentary Library

The Beehive, Parliament, Parliamentary Library

The main building is Parliament House, which houses the Debating Chamber, Speaker’s Office, various committee rooms and the Grand Hall.

Construction begun on this Edwardian neo-classical building in 1914, following a fire in 1907 that destroyed the previous wooden buildings.

The Beehive is 72 metres high, with 14 floors (2 of which are underground). Construction was completed between 1969 and 1979.  The Cabinet room is located on the top floor, with the Prime Minister’s and staff’s offices on the two floors before. The other floors house other ministers and function rooms. Also the country’s National Crisis Management Centre is located in the basement of the building.

Bowen House, The Beehive, Parliament House

Bowen House, The Beehive, Parliament House

The New Zealand Parliamentary Library, which was built between 1883 and 1899 in Victorian Gothic style, is the oldest building in the Parliament grounds.

The Parliamentary Library

The Parliamentary Library

Across the road from The Beehive is Bowen House, which holds Members of Parliament’s offices and support staff’s offices. It is connected to Parliament by an underground walkway that runs underneath Bowen Street.

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Bowen House

Parliament offer free, daily, one hour guided tours which depart on the hour from the Visitor Centre between 10am and 4pm. The Visitor Centre, which is located in the foyer of the Beehive is open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday and 9:30am to 5pm, weekends.

Free tours of Parliament depart from Visitors Centre

Free tours of Parliament depart from Visitors Centre

You must leave bags, coats, cameras, phones and other electronic devices in the secure storage area in the Visitor Centre, so it pays to arrive before your desired tour time to check in your personal belongings.

Prior to the tour a 12 minute documentary outlining some of Parliament’s highlights is screened.

The tour takes in the Grand Hall, one of the select committee rooms, the debating chamber (if parliament is not in session). Each tour varies depending on the current operations at Parliament. The guides are very knowledgable and enthusiastic about Parliament’s history.

If the House is in session you can watch the politicians go at it from the public galleries. Just talk to guide about watching from the public galleries.