Trolleybuses in Wellington were part of the Wellington public transport system from 1924 until 1932 and again from 1949 until 2017. It was the last trolleybus system operating commercially in Oceania and the last major system operating in a country where driving is on the left side of the road.
On 29 September 1924 the first trolleybus route was inaugurated with a single AEC 602 trolleybus running from Thorndon along Hutt Road to Kaiwharawhara (then known as Kaiwarra).
A trolleybus was chosen over an extension to the Wellington tramway system because a large water main on the route precluded tram track construction. Patronage was not very high, and as bus services in the area were introduced and expanded in the years following, patronage declined further and the service was withdrawn on 30 May 1932.
A second and more extensive network was approved in 1945, when it was decided to gradually replace trams with trolleybuses, preferred for being more maneuverable and more modern and preferred over diesel or petrol buses due to better traction on steep slopes. The first route opened on 20 June 1949 to Roseneath continuing beyond the Oriental Parade tram terminus. It was extended to Hataitai School in October 1949. The next route opened to Aotea Quay to serve a new Social Security Department building. It ceased ten years later when that office moved, and was notable as the only trolleybus terminus in New Zealand where trolleybuses reversed to turn round.
Tram conversion started in 1951 with the opening of the route to Wadestown, followed by Karori (1954), Northland (1956), Seatoun and Miramar (1958), Aro Street and Brooklyn, the latter extended beyond the tram terminus to Mornington (1960), Lyall Bay (1963) and Island Bay (1964). The building of Wellington Airport across the Rongotai isthmus required a deviation from the Coutts Street route that the trams had taken. The short Northland route closed in 1972. As late as 1984, a route was converted from diesel to electric operation, with the network reaching its maximum extent at around 50 kilometres. In 1990 the Wadestown to Roseneath route closed.
Operation of the system was privatised in 1992, when the Wellington City Council sold its transport operations to Stagecoach. The council retained ownership of the system's infrastructure with Stagecoach maintaining it under contract. In November 2005, the trolleybus network was included in the sale of Stagecoach's New Zealand operations to Infratil.
The network was threatened with closure over the years, mainly on grounds of cost. In 2014, the Greater Wellington Regional Council recommended closure of the entire system. Public consultations on the proposal were followed by a final decision to close the entire system by 2017. The published reasons included cost of infrastructure maintenance and upgrading, inflexibility of a wire linked network, plus slower speeds and less reliability than diesel buses. The Hataitai loop was replaced by diesel buses in October 2015.
The closure was questioned after the results of the 2017 New Zealand general election. The Labour Party had gained victory by entering into a coalition with the Green Party and New Zealand First, both of the latter who were on record as saying that they wanted to upgrade and maintain trolleybus services in Wellington. However, new transport minister Phil Twyford stated that the government would not step in to save the network. Twyford claimed that the costs of paying out the demolition contracts would be far too high, which came under heavy criticism from Wellington residents and council members in support of the trolleys. On 31 October 2017 the system closed. Work to remove the infrastructure began in October 2017 with all works compled in 2019.
After Wellington 82 finished work in its home town, it was transpoted by container ship to the Trolleybus Museum at Sandtoft. It was then sent to the Thamesdown Transport Company's works near Swindon for Restoration. Unfortunately, part way through the project, the work was terminated due to a change of business policy by the company. 82 then traveled north to have the work completed.
It is now a regular runner at the Museum, and is very popular with the public.