Saturday, July 7, 2007
Take the long way home ... #47
Spectacular views are often accompanied by the burden of a steep climb and tricky access, and many residents tackle this problem with their own private cable-car. Used to reach properties where building would otherwise be impractical these cars are a source of interest to visitors and locals alike.
As property developments continue to thrive on the hills, the demand for private cable-cars is steadily increasing. An estimated 400 residential cable-cars can now be spotted all around Wellington, and other hilly parts of New Zealand are also catching on to the cable-car solution.
This particular one is in Balaena Bay just around from Oriental Bay on the way to the Wellington Airport. Balaena Bay used to be the leading area for boat building in the early 1900’s, with the messy yards not wanted cluttering up the waterfront. It was cheaper to have a boat built in Auckland than shipping the Kauri to Wellington, but local boat builders were kept busy as their skills were needed to adapt Auckland pleasure craft to the rougher local conditions. Many of the Island Bay fishing fleet were built here in the 1920’s
The Wellington Cable Car Museum has a 15 minute documentary tracing the history and social impact of these cars. Wellington's private cable cars are probably a product of the tough topography and ocean climate in the region. Lighthouses originally had cable cars for carrying supplies from the jetty to the high lights, there were also military tramways for carrying munitions to gun emplacements around the harbour.