Wellington celebrates the 120th anniversary of its cable car


On February 22, 1902, the New Zealand Wellington Cable Car opened and began transporting Wellingtonians from Lambton Quay to Kelburn.

Now, 120 years and nearly three million trips later, everyone is invited to join in the celebrations which include many trips down memory lane, a cake for afternoon commuters and a large reflective sign on the story of the iconic cable car that will be unveiled in the main station.

However, a collaboration with the Wellington Chocolate Factory (WCF) will really put the fun in the funicular. To celebrate 120 years of the cable car’s many ups and downs, a limited edition chocolate bar with hidden golden tickets is being released to commemorate this momentous event.

The 1,500 limited edition 120th anniversary dark chocolate and salted caramel bars will be available at Cable Car, WCF, Zealandia and select Experience Wellington locations, with 120 golden tickets to discover inside – giving lucky winners a free ride on the Car cable and price exchangeable at the ticket office.

Mayor Andy Foster says the cable car has served the city well for so many years, both as a tourist attraction but also as a daily means of transport for hundreds of commuters and students – and now for dogs.

“Not only is the cable car an iconic part of the capital, it has also been a sustainable and reliable means of transport for 120 years, so celebrating this massive achievement is well deserved for the car and its many crews.”

To further commemorate the event, the cable car will launch a membership product offering commuters unlimited access to the cable car for three months.

The cable car’s general manager, Cesar Piotto, said that the cable car has not only created thousands of great experiences, but has been a success from a transportation perspective. The membership product is another initiative to make travel more accessible and affordable for Wellington residents.

Piotto adds “most Wellingtonians, and many Kiwis and international visitors will have fond memories of the cable car, whether as a passenger, at an event or even as staff – and we want the celebrations of this year honor that nostalgic sentiment with a nod to a classic favorite, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

“So hop on the Willy Wonka-esque bandwagon and find yourself one of 120 gold tickets to commemorate each year of service – then get a free ride on us and create a brand new keepsake.”

Construction of the cable car began in 1899 as transport demand in the region grew with the growing population, and through two world wars, plagues and plague, renovations and an assortment of challenges, it has withstood the test of time – and clock up many more trips in the future.

Top Images: Wellington Cable Car 2022; Wellington Cable Car entrance circa 1957; dogs are now allowed; Wellington cable car from the 1930s. Images courtesy Wellington City Council

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