Taking A Ride On The Wellington Cable Car

Editorial Family Fun

Our guide to the Wellington Cable Car and nearby attractions

The Wellington Cable Car is an iconic landmark that’s hugely popular for visitors to New Zealand’s capital city.   Like San Francisco, the red cable cars feature prominently in any photo gallery of the city and have become a ‘must do’ activity.

The Cable Car has been operating since 1902, and while the cars themselves have changed, the route remains the same.

The 5 minute steep journey upwards connects to the lookout platform at Kelburn, with views of the hillside terraced houses and the spectacular harbour.   On the way up (or down), you’ll also pass through two tunnels that features interactive LED lighting by designer Angus Muir, that creates some stunning imagery

Directly opposite the Cable Car entrance/departure doors at Kelburn, is the Cable Car Museum with free admission.  Split over two levels, it’s home to the original winding machinery for the cable car system which ran from 1902 until 1978.  

You can sit aboard  the ‘Relentless Red Rattler’ cable car, given the name due to the rattling noise it created going up and down the steep, enjoy a short film about the history of the Cable Car or, visit the gift shop for last-minute souvenirs.  Visitors can also step back in time by dressing up in the costume of the day and taking a photo in front of a beautifully restored cable car.

Attractions nearby…

Space Place at Carter Observatory is a very short walk from the top of the Cable Car and within a few metres from the Botanical Gardens main entrance.  Reasons to visit include the digital full-dome planetarium shows that explore the Southern skies, multimedia exhibitions and some of New Zealand’s most prestigious astronomical artefacts.

The Botanic Gardens are 25 hectares of beautiful gardens, plants, forest and visually striking sculptures.  There are several walks descending down the hillsides of the Botanic Garden, including a beautiful 40 minute track back down to Lambton Quay via the historic Bolton Street Cemetery and the Parliament Buildings.  

As the site of the city’s original burial ground, Bolton Street Cemetery contains the graves of many early settlers and important people from the city’s history.  The Parliament Buildings offer free tours to the public every hour on the hour. The one hour tours take place daily in the executive wing, where most of the day-to-day work of Members of Parliament takes place.

Wellington Cable Car - Need To Know:

Where is the Cable Car Located?
Look for the Cable Car sign on Lambton Quay in the city centre, which points to ‘Cable Lane’, a small lane off Lambton Quay. 

What are the operating times?
Cable cars operate approximately every 10 minutes, 364 days of the year.
  • Monday to Friday: 7:00am - 10:00pm
  • Saturday: 8:30am - 10:00pm
  • Sunday  : 8:30am - 9:00pm

How much is it?
For one way it’s NZD$5 for an adult and NZD$2.50 for a child. Check the Cable Car website for latest pricing.

Where do I find the buses to go to Zealandia?
Just head straight to the nearby road from the Cable Car entrance.  Zealandia offer free shuttle buses that pick up guests 6 times a day.
 
  • Pick-Up - 10:00am, 11:00am, 1:00pm, 2:00pm, 3:40pm & 4:00pm
  • Drop-Off - 9:50am, 10:50am, 12:50pm, 1:50pm, 3:30pm, 3:50pm, 4:10pm, 4:30pm & 4:50pm

Note - their shuttle has room to bring a wheelchair, however they don’t have a chairlift.