The Directors of The Upland Estate Company set up The Kelburn & Karori Tramway Company to provide transport facilities in the form of a Cable tram between their proposed residential subdivision at Kelburn and the City.
Work on the tram line begins. Three shifts worked round the clock to construct the system, including digging 3 tunnels.
Work is completed and the Cable Car starts operation on 22 February 1902 and proves an instant success with over 425,000 passenger trips on the cable car in the first year.
The company purchases 3 old palace horse trams and converted them into trailer carriages to increase passenger capacity. A Tea kiosk is built at Kelburn on the site that is now occupied by the Cable Top Eatery.
The converted palace trams are added to the grip cars on the uphill side. This increases capacity to 62 seated passengers.
Kelburn Park and the Dominion Observatory are completed.
Electric lights installed in the cars.
Annual patronage increases to over 1 million passenger trips.
Electricity replaced steam in powering the winding gear. The smokestack which had been a Kelburn landmark from the start, is removed.
The slipper brakes are removed from both trailers – a move which would prove to have serious ramifications 40 years later.
Company accuses the council of running buses in direct competition and asks the council to purchase the company or stop competing. Council refuses to purchase claiming ageing stock and limited potential earnings.
Still claiming unfair competition the Company takes its case to the Supreme Court. The Council agrees to purchase Company. Kelburn and Karori Tramway Company was voluntarily dissolved in February 1947.
Lambton Terminal upgraded.
Wellington's Coat of Arms added to the cars.
A serious accident involving a construction worker working on the new inner city motorway who accidentally stepped in front of a cable car. Incident leads to a Ministry of Works investigation.
There were several upgrades to the system and the trailers carriages are removed. However, despite these modifications the Ministry of Works advised the cars only have a maximum lifespan of a further 10 years. The council decides to invest in a new fully automated system.
Tenders close for new cable car system and contract is awarded to Habeggar AG of Switzerland.
On 22 September 1978 the old cars made their final run.
The original Grip Cars 1 and 2 are removed. Renovations begin in preparation for a new line. Rebuild of the system included relocating the winding system, track re-gauging, new cars, and control.
The new cable car system opened on 20th October.
The control system was replaced after several years of the system being unreliable and passenger numbers dropping as a consequence.
Following deregulation of the bus industry, the Cable Car ownership and that of the overhead power network for the trolleybuses passed to the Wellington Cable Car Limited–a council controlled organisation. Harbour City Cable Car Limited won the tender to operate the Cable Car. Stagecoach won the tender for the maintenance contract.
The Wellington Cable Car Limited takes the maintenance contract in house.
The data communication system was upgraded.
The operation of the Cable Car is taken in house by the Wellington Cable Car Limited.
The Kelburn terminal is rebuilt to include an internal viewing deck. It was officially reopened on 14 February 2014.
Wellington Cable Car closes temporarily to undertake a major equipment upgrade to replace the electric drive and control system. Since the 1979 upgrade, each car has completed more than one million trips. The Cable Car also took the opportunity to cosmetically upgrade the existing cars and make changes to the staff facilities.
Find out more about the conception of the Wellington Cable Car and the people who were instrumental to its success.