Kiwi ingenuity at work at the Rakaiatai Bridge

Published 20 Apr 2023

Since the work started on the Rakaiatai Bridge last Wednesday, Council teams and contractors have made good progress to enable temporary access for the residents. Since the Rakaiatai Bridge washed down the Manawatū River during Cyclone Gabrielle, access of residents was by way of a dinghy across the river.

By using some good old kiwi ingenuity, a temporary footbridge has been constructed using recycled beams salvaged from the old bridge. The original estimate to construct a temporary footbridge was around $160,000 dollars, and by recycling parts of the old bridge, costs have been reduced significantly. After clearing trees and vegetation, earthworks were performed to divert the road and enable access to the temporary footbridge. Now that temporary access has been established, the focus will be on improving safety and installing handrails along the temporary bridge.

Further earthworks have been done to enable 4x4 and tractor access for the residents. The works are being performed by Council teams in partnership with ZPR contractors, whose owners are originally from Dannevirke, helped by local farmers. In the immediate future, more parts of the destroyed bridge will be removed from the riverbanks by heavy machinery.

Council, and partners, are currently also looking at options for a permanent fix of the bridge. Preparatory works are underway to provide access to a drill-rig to assess the ground stability. This will aid in the planning and design of a new bridge. Council teams are looking to see if further cost savings are possible by carefully examining other salvaged parts of the bridge and determining what can be used in the new bridge design.

The original Rakaiatai bridge across the Manawatū River was constructed in 1971. Rakaiatai Rd is just off the Matamau-Ormondville Rd and provides access to an important farming area in our district.

To find out more about Cyclone Gabrielle Recovery in the Tararua District please go to: Cyclone Gabrielle Recovery | Tararua District Council (

Rakaiatai Rd Bridge

Rakaiatai Rd contractors

Old Rakaiatai Bridge