Wellington Cable Car: The View from the Top

By Paul Johnson | 4 March 2020

While the waterfront, Weta Cave and Te Papa are a must for any trip to Wellington, our cool little capital offers so much more...

A short five-minute trip on Wellington's iconic Cable Car not only provides access to stunning panoramic views of the city, but transports visitors to Kelburn, one of the capital's oldest suburbs.

Just minutes from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, this charming neighbourhood boasts a village atmosphere plus an enviable mix of cafe's, pubs, antique stores and attractions. 

Read on for our Kelburn recommendations and ensure you'll be living like a local in no time!

Cable Car Museum

Once you've reached the summit of Wellington's cable-car and taken the obligatory photo from the viewing platform, be sure to explore the cable car museum.

Set over two floors in the cable-car's original winding house, the museum is home to the cable car's historic engineering, Grip Car No.3 (a restored late Victorian trolley) and the "Relentless Red Rattler," one of the infamous red cable cars used from 1950 to the late 70s.

Space Place at Carter Observatory

A short stroll from the cable car terminus, at the top of Wellington Botanic Garden, sits the historic Carter Observatory. 

While home to the historic Thomas Cooke telescope, Space Place is anything but old-fashioned, with a full-dome, digital planetarium and countless multimedia exhibits, there's plenty to keep the family entertained. With a full event schedule, Space Place also offers a variety of events from film screenings to their popular Astronomy on Tap nights offering drinks, nibbles and stars.

Kelburn Village

A short stroll from the cable car museum, along upland road, leads to the village high street, home to the quaint Kelburn Café and the intimate Kelburn Village Pub. Whether you're looking to embrace Wellington's coffee or craft beer culture, these local favourites have you covered.

Adam Art Gallery

Culture lovers should seek out Adam Art Gallery, or Te Pātaka Toi. Nestled amongst Victoria University of Wellington's Kelburn campus, this purpose-built gallery offers a changing rosta of exhibitions showcasing new artworks across a variety of mediums.

Botanic Garden

A trip to the top of the Cable Car isn't complete without a comfortable downhill stroll through the lush Botanic Garden, one of the oldest botanic gardens in New Zealand, established in 1868.

The gardens are home to a range of trails, attractions and specimens of flora from across the globe.

Families won't want to miss the lively children's playground and the Discovery Garden, a living classroom where inquisitive minds can learn of the many uses of plants, from medicine to food and construction.

During the summer months, the Soundshell in the founder's entrance of the gardens comes alive with evening performances.

Night owls on the hunt for glow worm sightings should be sure to wander alongside Pukatea stream just off the main garden and duck pond.

Those looking for brunch shouldn't miss Picnic, this busy café is nestled between the quaint dell and elegant Lady Norwood Rose Garden. From here, Bolton Hotel is a short walk via Bolton Street.

Explore the area in the interactive map below.

To get the most out of your trip to the capital, download our Wellington Guide for our team's top recommendations.