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.

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