Wellington Cable Car

Rise above the crowds on this famous attraction: the red cable cars that travel up a steep slope to Wellington Botanic Garden.

Take a fun trip aboard one of the city’s oldest attractions, the Wellington Cable Car. It has been carrying passengers from Lambton Quay to the Wellington Botanic Garden for more than a hundred years. The line is approximately 2,000 feet (610 meters) long, and a journey from one end to the other takes about eight minutes.

Wellington Cable Car was built in 1902 to transport workers from Lambton Quay to the new suburbs springing up in the hills around the city. The original steam-powered system remained in operation until the current electrical process was installed in 1978.

There are two cable cars running in opposite directions and each can carry up to 100 passengers. Start your trip at Lambton Quay in the city center. The track rises over 390 feet (119 meters) and travels through three tunnels. There are three stops along the route.

Look out the windows for lofty views of the Wellington skyline that also take in the harbor and Hutt Valley in the distance.

At your journey’s end pop into the free Cable Car Museum, which tells the story of the cable car’s development. Enjoy more views of the city and harbor from the lookout at Kelburn. Other attractions within a couple of minutes’ walking distance from the cable car terminus are the Carter Observatory and Planetarium and the Botanic Garden. There is also a free five-minute shuttle bus from the top of the cable car to Zealandia, a conservation precinct that’s home to some of New Zealand’s rarest animals.

To get back to the city, take a return cable car or stroll through the Botanic Garden, which is about a 40-minute walk away from downtown Wellington.

The cable cars run every 10 minutes on every day of the year except Christmas Day. When cruise ships are in port, the lines for the cable cars are longer, especially in the morning. On these days the cable cars run every six to eight minutes.