The Mayor of Whanganui says he accepts responsibility for delays in the construction of the Upokongaro Cycle Bridge on State Highway 4 - a crucial link in the Mountain to Sea and National cycleways.
The structure has been parked in a paddock on the western riverbank since late 2018 - and is now jokingly referred to as the region's "second bridge to nowhere".
Take a drive along Papaiti Road northwest of the Whanganui suburb of Aramoho and rising out of a maize field you'll find the $2.5 million Upokongaro Cycle Bridge.
Built onsite, the 130 metre long and 18m high structure was meant to be placed across the Whanganui River in February last year, but instead sits behind security fencing because it requires a new resource consent.
Whanganui Mayor Hamish McDouall said the consent amendment was needed to raise the abutments by 80 centimetres - to account for climate change - and that exposed a flaw in the district council's original consultation with Māori - which he described as a "once over lightly".
McDouall said council failed to take into account the imminent passing of Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Settlement) Act in 2017 which recognised the river "as a living and indivisible whole" with "all the rights, powers, duties and liabilities of a legal person".
"Now of course with the change in legislation it became appropriate to involve Ngā Tāngata Tiaki, the organisation that looks after the river, to consult them about this amended consent.
"It's actually pretty much doing what we should have done back in 2017 even though it was a different legislative environment."
McDouall said Ngā Tāngata Tiaki o Whanganui advised the council it needed to consult with mana whenua - the local hapū Ngā Paerangi.
He said the hapū had various concerns, including care of the Upokongaro Stream, whitebait in the area, traffic management and a landscaping and its affect on a nearby urupā.
"I've got to say it was a remarkably positive engagement but that meant that it wasn't possible to launch the bridge in April - May last year because we didn't want to truncate those discussions."
McDouall said the work had involved drawing up a cultural impact assessment and the vast majority of the hapū's concerns had now been allayed.
"This is really setting a template for how we should be doing this in the future."
McDouall said it was now a case of waiting for the regional council to approve the consents application and for the contractor to find time to do the job.
He took personal responsibility for the mix up.
"I won't throw anyone else under the bus, I'm responsible for council's errors and I think the initial council engagement with the knowledge that Te Awa Tupua existed possibly could have been deeper, so year I'm happy for council to wear that on the chin."
In the meantime, the Whanganui cycling community has been left scratching its head over the delay.
The Bike Shed co-owner Doug Rennie said it had become embarrassing fielding questions about the bridge.
"You know the second bridge to nowhere ... well Ruapehu has got one obviously and now Whanganui's got one but ours is a nice big white thing that just sits in a paddock.
"So yeah lots of people say different things but I just think it needs to be the bridge to somewhere."
Rennie said next month Tour Aotearoa - which had 1100 cyclists registered including many from overseas - had been expecting to use the Upokongaro Bridge.
"In the book that's been printed since before the bridge was actually put in the paddock because it was said it was going to be done. It says they turn over that bridge but they can't turn over that bridge so they have to ride down into town and head back if they're going to the holiday camp."
That was a bitter pill for Ben Kay co-owner of the Whanganui River Top Ten Holiday Park in Aramoho.
"It would've been fantastic. We'd already put adverts in promoting us because we were going to be on the Mountain to Sea Cycleway. We obviously paid money for these adverts but we weren't told it wasn't going to go in so obviously those adverts will come to nothing for us."
Kay said the lack of information about delays with the bridge had been galling.
"You know we should've been using it now, but we don't get told anything. It's frustrating you just sort of third party, yeah Chinese whispers and you don't get to hear anything.
"You know the council is meant to be working for us, helping us. I don't understand why they can't tell us."
Hamish McDouall appreciated people were upset.
"Look I can understand a lot of frustration out there in the community because they see the bridge in the field and they want it to go across because this will be a remarkable amenity for the entire district.
"People see it every time they drive State Highway 4 and it will really make Upokongaro, this tiny little town and beautiful town a burgeoning place, and so I can understand people wanting it to happen and it will happen."
McDouall said the regional council was still working through the resource consents process and there was still no date for the placing the bridge over the river.
Ngā Tāngata Tiaki o Whanganui declined to comment.