A lookout at the top of the Cable Car provides spectacular views over the city. Here, you’re also at the highest point of Wellington’s Botanic Gardens, a huge swathe of green on peaceful rolling hills with numerous paths that wind down towards the city. Pick up the useful free map from the Cable Car Museum.
Lady Norwood Rose Garden and Begonia House
The star in the Botanic Garden’s firmament is the fragrant Lady Norwood Rose Garden, where a colonnade of climbing roses frames beds of over three hundred varieties set out in a formal wheel shape. The adjacent Begonia House is divided into two areas: the tropical, with an attractive lily pond, and the temperate, which has seasonal displays of begonias and gloxinias in summer, changing to cyclamen, orchids and impatiens in winter.
Two minutes’ walk from the upper Cable Car terminus is the fabulous, revamped, 1941 Carter Observatory, which has illuminating displays on the New Zealand angle on the exploration of the southern skies, from Maori and Pacific Island astronomy and astronavigation through to recent planet searches. Of particular note are a telescope from Captains Cook’s era, a piece of moon rock you can touch and the chance to launch a rocket – you man the console, initiate the launch and feel the ground shake as you view the footage of the space bound projectile. Make time to catch one of the jaw-dropping planetarium shows that include live night sky viewings.