Written by UK Flower Girl on 18 Nov, 2006
You can’t visit Wellington without taking the famous Cable Car, or funicular railway, that leads to the upper section of the Botanical Gardens and to the suburb of Kelburn. The lower terminal is located in the heart of the Central Business District along Lambton Quay.…Read More
You can’t visit Wellington without taking the famous Cable Car, or funicular railway, that leads to the upper section of the Botanical Gardens and to the suburb of Kelburn. The lower terminal is located in the heart of the Central Business District along Lambton Quay. To locate the office, look for the miniature trolley car on a sign pointing towards Cable Car Lane which takes you back to the ticket office and platform. The cable car is one of Wellington’s oldest and most popular tourist attractions. The shiny red cars feature prominently along the hillside as they climb the steep hill. The best views over Wellington and its beautiful harbour can be found up here at the Lookout. Tom and I planned to take the cable car up and then walk back down through the Botanical Gardens and Bolton Street Memorial Park. Cars depart every ten minutes from the top and bottom at the same time and cross in the middle. A one-way ticket costs $1.80NZ for adults and $1NZ for a child. It runs from 7am to 10pm Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 10pm Saturday and Sunday; Public Holidays 9am to 10pm.The line runs 628-metres straight up the side of the hill at a nearly steady one in five gradient. There are three tunnels and three bridges along the way. It runs at about 5 metres/second with a maximum passenger load of about 100 people. Just under a million people use the cable car each year, many of those being students going to the University stop and business people taking it down to the city during the week.The Cable Car Museum: If you want more specific information about the history of the cable car system, visit the Cable Car Museum at the upper terminus on Upland Road. The museum is located in the original winding house and has been open since December 2000. Here in the museum you can see the original Grip Car 1 and Grip Car 3 and electric winding gear. Visit their website at www.cablecarmuseum.co.nz Admission to the museum is free and is open during the summer from 9:30am to 5:30pm daily and in winter it is open from Monday through Frideay from 9:30am to 5pm and Weekends from 10am to 4:30pm.My engineer husband is always fascinated with the inner workings of funiculars and such. This means that not only do we have photographs of the funicular itself, but photos of the control panels, the manufacturer information, wheels, cables, tunnels, track, you get the idea.A Bit of History: At the turn of the century, Wellington was in a phase of expansion. With proposals to build in the suburb of Kelburn, another proposal was brought forward for a cable car or funicular to provide easy access. In 1898 the plans were approved and land was acquired to start building. Construction began the following year and three crews worked around-the-clock to finish the hybrid cable car/funicular line. It opened to the public February 22, 1902. It wasn’t until the 1960s and 1970s that the cable car suffered from safety and comfort complaints. Major upgrades were undertaken with new cars being brought in from Switzerland. The double gauge was replaced with a single gauge track and the original propulsion mechanism was replaced converting it to a funicular, although it is still called a cable car. "The new system was designed to retain the Edwardian ambience of the old whist incorporating the latest safety equipment."How the cable car works: "The Cable Car is a standing funicular which operates on the driven balance rope system, i.e. the two cars are at either end of a single rope which is driven by and electric motor located at the top station. Thus, as one car moves downhill, the other moves up. The cars run on a single track and pass each other on a loop situated at Talavera Station. Each car has double flanged wheels on one side which follow the outer rails and ensure that the car always takes the same leg of the passing loop. The driving and braking mechanisms are controlled by electronic equipment which is fully automatic, excepting that the car attendants control the doors and the starting of the cars.The system has four separate braking mechanisms which provide for both service and emergency braking."
Visit the Wellington Cable Car website: www.wellingtonnz.com/cablecar If you are visiting Wellington, make it a point to take a trip up the Wellington Cable Car. The views on the way up are outstanding and it is a great way to get to the top of the Botanical Gardens where you can spend the afternoon or morning wandering and exploring the gardens. And for $1.80NZ (about $1.20US) the price can’t be beat.
Our fascination with architecture usually leads us to a church wherever we travel. This was no exception in Wellington. After a quick lunch at Subway, we made our way down to Old St. Paul’s. This former cathedral church is called "old" to distinguish it from…Read More
Our fascination with architecture usually leads us to a church wherever we travel. This was no exception in Wellington. After a quick lunch at Subway, we made our way down to Old St. Paul’s. This former cathedral church is called "old" to distinguish it from the new Anglican church, New St. Paul’s. Old St. Paul’s is no longer a parish church, but since it is still consecrated, it is often used for prayer, meditation, weddings and other services.The foundation was laid in 1865, one year after Wellington became New Zealand's capital, and then consecrated a year later. It is designed in the Early English Gothic style by Reverend Frederick Thatcher, vicar of the parish from 1861-1864. The church was built using native timbers—rimu, totara, matai and kauri. New Zealand had a lack of stone (unlike England) and used mostly wood for buildings. Wood is also best used in this area due to small earthquakes which can happen from time to time in the area. Major earthquakes occurred in 1848 and 1855.The south transept was added after the church was built—due to the wind (it is known as the windy city!) The wind and earthquakes also limited the height of the spire.Due to a large and growing congregation, a new, larger cathedral was begun in 1954 and the decision was made to demolish this church. After twelve years of debates over this issue the church was finally saved by the Crown . The Crown purchased the church and it went through restoration and it is now managed by NZ Historic Places Trust.Several stained glass windows adorn the church. There is a guide book at the church to guide you through the various windows and their meanings. The organ is very new, only being installed in 1977. The original organ was installed in 1877 but it moved over to the new cathedral in 1964.The interior of the church glowed from inside with all of the beautiful wood and the sunlight shining in through the stained glass windows. The white wooden clapboard exterior of the church is no indication of what you will see inside. A collection of flags can be seen hanging in the middle of the church. Two NZ flags: White Ensign of the Royal Navy and the Red Ensign of the NZ Merchant Navy. Two US flags: the US flag with 48 stars and the Second Division Marine Corps. There were military personnel stationed here in WWII and the flags were presented when the left NZ. Many of these service people have made pilgrimages back to Old St. Paul’s many times since the war.The peal of bells was installed in 1867 and, along with the organ, these were moved to the new cathedral before 1966. The present peal of five bells was installed in 1979. Unusual to bell ringing, the bells are rung from the ground level rather then from the bell tower since the tower is so short.We had a nice visit with Shirley Nichols, a volunteer guide at the church. A very pleasant and helpful lady, she told us all about the church, its construction, what it is made of and why, etc. We also heard tales of her Scottish father and spending time in London and Scotland as a girl and about the US flag and military as mentioned above. It made for an enjoyable visit.The church is open 10am to 5pm every day. Close Good Friday and Christmas Day and whenever there happens to be hosting a wedding or funeral. Close
After reading reviews about the Interislander and Bluebridge ferry services we decided that Bluebridge seemed a bit of a budget option and booked ourselves along with our rental car on the Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton at 9am on a Saturday morning. Our fully-refundable,…Read More
After reading reviews about the Interislander and Bluebridge ferry services we decided that Bluebridge seemed a bit of a budget option and booked ourselves along with our rental car on the Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton at 9am on a Saturday morning. Our fully-refundable, fully-changeable ticket cost us approximately $330NZ.I questioned whether we would be taking the rental on the ferry since I had read that most rental agencies have you drop off one car at the ferry terminal and have you pick up another one on the other side. Tom was sure that we needed to book the car, too. When we picked up the rental car Tom asked about dropping off the car and to our surprise we would not need a space for the car on the ferry.A call to Interislander caused a bit of chaos. The operator said if we don’t have the car with us we can’t go at all as our ticket is for two adults and a car. They only ticket they had left for Saturday was a 6pm sailing which gets us into Picton at 9pm. This puts us behind schedule by 9 hours. Not that we really had a schedule, no reservations had been made for that night so we could stay in Picton. Instead of booking the 6pm sailing we just left them as they were and talked about our options. One call to Bluebridge sorted everything out for us. They had six seats still available for their 9am sailing for Saturday morning, and they were only $45NZ each. We’ll take them! Tom cancelled our tickets on Interislander and we got a full refund.Dropping the car off made for an interesting time. Since Bluebridge is relatively new to carrying passengers, car rental drop-off is only available at the Interislander terminal. The two terminals aren’t too far as the crow flies, but with luggage and all of the twists and turns we didn't really have the inclination to walk. Customer Services at Bluebridge told us to catch the shuttle bus that runs between the two ferry terminals, but once we dropped the car off at the unattended Hertz lot there was no shuttle bus or any indication of when or where to catch it. Luckily a taxi drive came walking out of the terminal so we asked for a lift over to Bluebridge. He didn’t speak English well nor did he hear very well but we finally got where we needed to go. He tried to drop us off with the cargo!Check-in was a breeze. Check-in staff took our luggage like an airline does at a check-in with a conveyor belt. We left the hotel extra early to return the car and catch the shuttle bus, but since we didn’t have to wait we had some extra time. We took a seat a few rows back at first. I love people-watching and there were some interesting folk coming in to take the ferry. We decided to move up to the front row by the window to watch preparations for the journey. As time ticked closer and closer the waiting area filled-up and there was no sign of any boarding by foot passengers or by vehicles. After what felt like forever, foot passengers were finally called. At check-in foot passengers were given plastic sticks to use as boarding passes which we gave to an employee as we boarded. As it typically goes on the ferry, people scrambled around to find the "best seats" on the ferry. It didn’t matter much to us where we sat as long as it wasn’t too loud. It would be three hours spent on the ferry so we had to get comfortable. We ended up on level four next to where the movies played. "Raising Helen" played and then some horrible children’s sort of movie came on that almost did my head in. Lunch on the ferry was interesting as well. Tom queued in the disorderly dining room for fish and chips and by the time he got up there they were gone and they had no idea how long it would be for more. Tom bought a sandwich and a yogurt and we shared. Hunger crept up on us again and I decided to brave it this time. I queued for fish and chips and a bowl of soup for us to share. I couldn’t carry both at the same time so I brought the soup to Tom and went back for the rest. As I came around the corner with the fish and chips and salad someone opened the door going outside and most of my lettuce flew off of the plate and scattered everywhere on the floor. I was so annoyed by all of it that I just stood there and shook my head and walked off.The three hours went rather quickly. I took a blissful 15-minute nap before lunch. The ferry weaved through the islands of the Marlborough Sounds. The captain announced that there were little whales off to the sides of the ferry so we went to take a look. There were a pod of them swimming through the water at the side of the ferry. It was very exciting, indeed! Pictures of them just don’t do justice. You could see mountains in the distance on the South Island which only intrigued me more. I was really looking forward to the rest of our holiday—glaciers, mountains, rugged coastline and then a flight back to Auckland before returning home.Once foot passengers were let off the ferry we boarded three rickety buses over to the terminal. We then had to retrieve our luggage that had been checked. When it finally arrived it was all stacked into the back of a truck that was unloaded haphazardly. People stood around waiting and as they pulled off bags people rushed up to get their bags. People tripped over each other and others were almost hit by luggage coming out of the truck. Of course we were early to the terminal so our bags sat right at the back. Once they finally came out we started looking for the car rental agency. Once again—nothing located at this terminal. A bus driver shouted out that anyone needing a lift to town or to car rentals needed to come with him on the rickety bus. I waited with our bags while Tom went over to the Interislander terminal to Hertz to get our car. It didn’t take him long to pick me up in a Toyota Avensis. Tom reserved a room for us in Hokitika for the night on the Internet the night before (once our ferry problems were solved). This put us in a good location the next day to visit Fox and Franz Josef glaciers. We had a long drive ahead of us, so off we went to explore the south island.Bluebridge Facts:**Fares are set on a flat rate for year round travel. NZ$45 per adult, NZ$25 per child, NZ$120 per car and NZ$10 per bicycle for 2006.**Refunds are not allowed, but rescheduling your trip is allowed within three months of your original booking date.**The journey on Bluebridge from island to island is three hours and twenty minutes.**Bluebridge had one ship, Santa Regina, when we sailed with them. A second ship, Monte Stello, was due to enter service late 2006.**Bluebridge started passenger services in 2003 with its ship Santa Regina that came from France where it used to sail between Marseilles and Corsica on overnight journeys.**Each foot passenger as allowed 30kg of luggage and after that it is NZ$10 per item. Close
Should you find yourself taking Wellington’s Cable Car up the hillside, take the time to wander down through the fabulous Botanic Gardens instead of buying a return on the Cable Car. It is classified as a Garden of National Significance by the Royal New Zealand…Read More
Should you find yourself taking Wellington’s Cable Car up the hillside, take the time to wander down through the fabulous Botanic Gardens instead of buying a return on the Cable Car. It is classified as a Garden of National Significance by the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture and is an Historic Places Trust Heritage Area.You can easily while away a couple of hours wandering through the paths that twist their way back down to the city. There are several different areas to the gardens in addition to the Treehouse Visitor Centre. It really isn’t until now that I look at a map of the gardens that I realize how vast it is and how much you can easily miss depending on where you start. From the Cable Car station we first walked down through the Cactus and Succulent Gardens and then the Fern Garden where we stopped to look at all of the delicate little plants and the ferns that symbolize New Zealand. This area of the gardens is quite shady with a canopy of trees overhead. The humidity kept us feeling like it was warmer than it really was. After strolling through these specific areas, we found ourselves at the duck pond where masses of ducks floated around and looked at us waiting for a snack (which we didn’t have). There are quite a few specific gardens you can visit such as dwarf conifers, rock garden, Australian garden, herb garden, cork oak and the threatened species garden. This is just a sampling of what you will find here. We continued on through the park and made stops at the rose garden, Begonia House and Peace Garden before continuing on through the Bolton Memorial Gardens.Main Garden: "The Main Garden contains several major plant collections and seasonal beds. It is at its best in spring and early summer with a blazing mass of 30,000 tulips. The Main Garden begins just inside the Founders gates on Glenmore Street and includes the Duck Pond. There are several walking tracks - many forming circuits - stemming from the Main Garden." Since it was autumn and there weren’t many flowers in bloom at this time of year we didn’t spend much time through here. It sounds like spring and early summer are the times to visit here when the tulips are the star of the show. Everything here seemed to be muted in colour compared to the roses and begonias in the sunny areas of the gardens. You can find New Zealand’s famous glow worms along the paths in the main garden near the duck pond up to Glen Road alongside the stream. The best time to see them (and any glowworms) is in the dark or evening after rain.Begonia House: The Begonia House was one of my two favourite parts of the gardens. The bright colours would brighten up anyone’s day. Brilliant red, yellow, and pink tuberous Begonias called you over as soon as you set foot in the door. Begonias are one of my most favourite flowers so I was happy to see so many beautiful flowers in bloom. The Begonia House also has tropical and temperate displays depending on what time of year it is. If you are looking for flowering displays you can find orchids and cyclamen here. A lily pond with aquatic plants is also located in this area. The Begonia House contains tropical and temperate displays, including seasonal displays of orchids, tuberous begonias, cyclamen, ornamentals, and others. The tropical end also features a lily pond containing aquatic plants and a giant water lily.A Botanic Garden Shop is also located in Begonia House where you can purchase New Zealand gifts, jewelery, books, cards, garden accessories, etc.Lady Norwood Rose Garden: "This award-winning garden has 110 formal beds, each representing a different variety of rose. It includes newly released roses and traditional favourites. The design is geometric with colonnades on three sides, creating a striking contrast to the backdrop of bush and sloping lawns." Lady Norwood Rose Garden was the second of my two favourite parts of the gardens. I loved the layout of the garden with the colonnades and the groupings of roses. I was quite surprised at the sheer number of roses in the garden and how many of them were still blooming in autumn (It was April so it would be similar to October-time for the Northern Hemisphere). A pretty fountain sits in the middle of the circular garden with ducks swimming in the water.Peace Garden: "The Peace Garden's flame comes from fire created by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The flame was presented by the people of Japan to New Zealand in recognition of our efforts to halt the spread of atomic weapons." We actually stumbled upon this area by accident and wondered if it was part of the gardens. A pretty little waterfall streams down the rocks into a pond where a Japanese-style lantern with a flame. It was a nice place to sit and relax for a while before we continued our journey through Bolton Memorial Park.A little bit of history:A 5.26 hectare tract of land was laid out way back in 1844 for a Botanic Garden Reserve. The land was covered in dense podocarp (mainly conifers of the Southern Hemisphere in the form of evergreen trees and shrubs) forest including rimu, totara and matai. Finally, a garden was established in 1868 and managed by the New Zealand Institute. Take a look at the trees on Druid Hill in the Botanic Gardens as these were planted during this time and are some of the oldest exotic trees in New Zealand. In the 1870s another 21.85 hectares of land were granted for reserve. Since 1891 Wellington City Council has managed the gardens and are there for you to enjoy for free!If you plan on taking the cable car up I would definitely recommend taking stroll through the immense Botanic Gardens on your way back down to the city. The environment is relaxing and really is an oasis of calm and beauty in the city.Bolton Memorial Park:Once you reach the bottom of the Botanic Gardens you can continue your walking journey back to the city, specifically the Parliament area, by walking through the Bolton Street Memorial Park located adjacent to the Botanic Gardens. The cemetery has an interesting history and is quite interesting to visit.The park dates back to 1840 as the city’s original cemetery and some of NZ’s early notable figures are buried here. It used to lie on the outskirts of the city and served the city’s non-Catholic residents. In 1851, the cemetery was split into three different areas: Anglican (Bolton Street Cemetery), public (Sydney Street Cemetery) and Jewish. The Roman Catholic Cemetery was—and still is—located in Mount Street, Kelburn. The cemetery was closed to burials in 1892 due to overcrowding and increasing encroachment of the city. It was the 1960s that created problems for this cemetery. A motorway was being built and it was proposed that it would run right through a section of the memorial park. Controversy raged over the issue yet the proposition went through. The memorial park was closed between 1968 and 1971. Over 3700 burials were exhumed during this time and placed in a large vault beneath the Early Settlers Memorial Lawn. Take some time to stroll through the park and look at the interesting headstones and many exotic plants and flowers among the gravestones. If you are interested, a burial list is located at the Bolton Street Memorial Park Chapel. Close
Written by stomps on 29 Apr, 2006
I think it's safe to say that everyone knows someone who loves the Lord of the Rings, or they love the movies themselves. I happen to count nearly my entire family in the "love" camp, which is a good thing because I had people to…Read More
I think it's safe to say that everyone knows someone who loves the Lord of the Rings, or they love the movies themselves. I happen to count nearly my entire family in the "love" camp, which is a good thing because I had people to see the movies with, but was not so great when I told them I was going to New Zealand. All of a sudden, I had a list of Lord of the Rings-related items to buy, and only a small period of time to search for them between all the activities I was doing!I didn't have the time or the energy to search in Auckland, so Wellington was my first port-of-call on the Lord of the Rings front. Unfortunately, I could barely find any souvenir stores in the Courteney Quarter of Wellington, much less stores that sold Lord of the Rings memorabilia! I thought that since Wellington was the headquarters of the movie, and Peter Jackson's workshops, that there would be plenty of merchandise available. I also thought that since the Courteney Quarter was the one that contains the Embassy Theater—the site of the huge, 100,000 person strong premiere for Return of the King in 2003—it would have plenty of opportunities to find anything LOTR-related. I was wrong.I went into at least two stores that had "Lord of the Rings T-shirts!" or "Lord of the Rings merchandise!" signs in their windows. However, when I asked the shopkeepers about said T-shirts, they looked at me like I was crazy and told me they had run out of those about 2 years ago. Then why do you have the signs in your windows? That's an awful long time to "forget" to take down a sign.I ended up empty-handed after my trip to Wellington. Even on a future visit, when I found where the souvenir stores were hiding in Wellington, I still did not find all that much LOTR gear. My advice to anyone that is searching for anything LOTR--and I would think, even 3 years after the Return of the King, that would still be a rather large number--wait until you get to the South Island. Christchurch had infinitely more souvenir stores in general, and at least 2 or 3 that offered T-shirts and guidebooks. Queenstown had an entire store for the Lord of the Rings. This store had plenty of collectibles and T-shirts, but was ridiculously overpriced. I was happy with what I found in the large chains (Aotea NZ, for one), and I think my wallet was much happier with what I found there as well! Close
Written by Kiwi RFC on 28 Oct, 2004
Our trip started out with a nice drive down from Levin, a small town in the north island about an hour away from Wellington. We arrived in Wellington in the morning and spent the day driving around the city seeing the sights. There are some…Read More
Our trip started out with a nice drive down from Levin, a small town in the north island about an hour away from Wellington. We arrived in Wellington in the morning and spent the day driving around the city seeing the sights.
There are some great buildings in downtown Wellington. We went to a nice little pub for dinner to start the night off before we went to the Super 12 rugby game at Westpac Stadium between the Wellington Hurricanes and the Auckland Blues. The game had great action right down to the last minute, but finished in a 26-all tie.
After the game, we headed back down town to enjoy the Wellington nightlife. There are tons of bars and pubs to go to. It really all depends on what kind of place you are into. We went to a bar called Sports Café; it’s in the middle of the downtown area, around many other bars and pubs you can go to. While we were there, we ended up meeting some of the players from both the Hurricanes and the Blues, including Roy KinKinlou and Peri Weepu to name a few. We partied well into the wee hours of the morning, till around 5:30 in the morning. We were going to drive back to Levin, but thankfully, we decided to get a hotel room. The next day, we went back to the Sports Café for lunch. They have great food there. After lunch, we headed back to Levin. Wellington was a great time.
Written by Tallulah_B on 18 Sep, 2005
Although you can get to Wellington faster by plane, I thought this would be a scenic/cheaper way to see the countryside. The train runs through the Waikato region known for its lush hills and dairy production. It rises through the mountains and you…Read More
Although you can get to Wellington faster by plane, I thought this would be a scenic/cheaper way to see the countryside. The train runs through the Waikato region known for its lush hills and dairy production. It rises through the mountains and you get views of Mt. Ruapehu (the highest mountain on the north island). The train descends through the Waiarapa area but by then the sun had set. There is an observation deck on the train, so you can step outside while the train is zooming along to get photos. It was a little frightening to stand on the outside platform. If you like train travel, I think this is a great ride, but if you are in a hurry, this is not the trip for you. Close