Kelburn, New Zealand

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Basic information
Local authority Wellington City
Population 3,642 (2006 [1])
North Northland, Wellington Botanic Gardens, Thorndon
East Wellington CBD
Southeast Te Aro
South Aro Valley
Southwest Highbury
West Karori
Panorama of Wellington including the Kelburn cable car.

Kelburn is an inner suburb of Wellington, New Zealand. It is located on the hills to the west of the Central Business District.

Features of Kelburn[edit]

Though not large in terms of population, the suburb has a number of distinguishing features.

The Wellington Cable Car (built in 1902) is a tourist attraction and essential transport facility. It runs from Lambton Quay in the CBD up the hill for 800 m, crossing the Wellington Urban Motorway as it does so. Its terminal is close to the Wellington Botanic Garden and the Carter Observatory. Both of these are popular destinations for locals and visitors alike.

The main campus of Victoria University of Wellington is located in the east of the suburb, and the second-top stop of the cable car provides easy access.

Other features include the Kelburn Viaduct, one of the oldest bridges of its type in New Zealand, connecting to Karori, and the Kelburn shopping area.


Kelburn is the home of many upper-middle-class families due to the views of Wellington, the Wellington Botanic Garden, proximity to town and the high level of sunshine in the top parts (there are also a number of glens). Due to Kelburn's proximity to the University, many students live in flats or rental accommodation here. A large number of academics also call Kelburn home, resulting in a diverse community. The 2006 census gives the population of Kelburn as approximately 3,600. The northern area of Kelburn near Parliament Buildings and bounded by the Wellington Urban Motorway, Kelburn Park and the Botanic Gardens has historically been the home of New Zealand's Business elite such as the Todd family (one of New Zealand's richest families[2][3]), particularly Charles Todd. The area has the nickname "Todd Hill". Sir Ron Trotter and Lloyd Morrison (of Infratil) lived there. The New Zealand legal elite is well represented in this area (for example Sir Kenneth Keith, Sir John McGrath and many prominent barristers). Prominent politicians and public figures also lived there such as Sir Keith Holyoake, and Sir Guy Powles.


Kelburn, built on the former ‘Upland Farm’ (giving the names to Kelburn's main street, Upland Road), was one of the earliest settled suburbs of Wellington due its proximity to the main government/commercial district of Wellington. Kelburn is named after Viscount Kelburne, the son of a former governor David Boyle, Lord Glasgow, Governor of New Zealand between 1892 and 1897.[4] At some point in time the 'e' was dropped due to the confusion with the suburb of Kilbirnie, leaving the modern suburb name as 'Kelburn'. For example early photographs of the Wellington Cable Car show the sign writing on the side using the spelling 'Kelburne'.


Kelburn in red.

Kelburn's boundaries form an approximate triangle, with the motorway defining the east boundary, Bowen St (west of the motorway) and Glenmore St defining the North-West boundary, and the ridgelines of the hills above Aro Valley forming the South boundary[5]


Kelburn has two primary schools Clifton Terrace Model School and Kelburn Normal School. The latter (founded in 1913) has roll of around 350 students in years 1-8.


  1. ^ Quickstats about Kelburn
  2. ^ The National Business Review, Rich List, Auckland, 2010. (published as an annex to The National Business Review, 30 July 2010.
  3. ^ "Graeme Hart Tops New Zealand’s Business Review Rich List Again", Bloomberg Businessweek, 29 July 2010.
  4. ^ "Western suburbs". Te Ara. Retrieved 12 November 2010. 
  5. ^ Wellington City Council, LINZ suburbs map

Coordinates: 41°17′20″S 174°45′48″E / 41.288771°S 174.763298°E / -41.288771; 174.763298