By hopping onto the Wellington Cable Car, one can get spectacular views of the central city of Wellington, Kelbrun. The cable car is a short railway that travels 120 meters high. The cable car is 612 meters long and offers an excellent 5-minute ride (one way) which takes you to the top of the cable car, Kelburn Terminal, from Lambton Quay.
It was registered as a Heritage of New Zealand historic site in the 1990s. A telescope is installed at the Kelbrun Lookout, facilitating a better perspective of the Botanic Garden, the Cable Car Museum, Space Place (Carter Observatory) and Zealandia (via free shuttle). Owned and operated by Wellington Cable Car Ltd, the cable car is a popular attraction for tourists and locals. Nearly a million people go on the cable car each year, including commuters, tourists and students of Victoria University. Wellington Cable Car was voted one of the top places in 2011 by Lonely Planet.
The Cable Car Museum is located where the winding mechanism was operated from 1902 to 1978. It consists of two floors, where the Museum shows how Wellington’s transport system has evolved. A very antique piece of ‘Grip Car No.3’ which was used for transportation in the early 1900s. Though the car was awkwardly designed with the grip man’s cabin which consisted of the main controls and brakes, this machine looks very elegant. Visitors are also allowed to go back in time, dress up in vintage clothes and pose for pictures with the Grip Car No.3. The clothes are available at the museum next to the Grip Car No.3. Visitors can take a look at the Old Winding machines and be amazed by the engineering skills, innovation, and technology that were used to transport the people of Wellington back in the 1900s. ‘The Relentless Red Latter’, which can also be spotted in the museum, was used for transportation in the 1950s to the late 1970s. It was called so because of the sound made while travelling through the road and the tunnels. The visitors can also see a short movie made by the museum about the evolution of the transport system in Wellington.
At the end of the 19th century, when the population of Wellington began to increase rapidly, a cable car was suggested to be built for easy access. In 1898, the Upland Estate Company initiated the Kelburne & Karori Tramway Company to provide transport facilities.
The First Tramway
The tramway which began construction in 1989 was ready to use by 1902. The cable car could hold a total of 425,000 passengers in its first year of operation, which increased to one million by 1912.
From Steam to Electric
In the year 1933, electric winding gears replaced the steam-powered ones. Competition increased in the 1940s as Wellington Council introduced public bus systems. The Kelburne & Karori Tramway Company and the government raised an argument about competing with a private company. Later, the council ended up buying the company on February 13, 1947. On 20 October 1979, the cable cars underwent certain upgrades for safety and better use of the resources.
The New Cable Car Station
The new cable car station consisted of a new tram line, brand new cars, upgraded winding systems, track re-gauging and control systems. In the year 2016, cable cars underwent a significant upgrade which involved refurbishing the inside of the vehicles and also making better facilities for the staff.
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