The rail connection between Napier and Hastings has been restored after it was badly damaged seven months ago by Cyclone Gabrielle.
On Friday morning, the first train to cross rail bridge 217, just south of Awatoto, Napier, rolled across to the sound of bagpipes.
The reconnection will allow freight once again to travel to and from the Napier by rail, rather than by road.
Lead cyclone recovery minister for Hawke's Bay, Kieran McAnulty, said the bridge's repair was a huge milestone in the region's recovery.
"What people want to see is progress, and they have seen the bridge inch towards the other side, and today it's open," he said.
"It's quite symbolic. It shows the rest of the country, and the world, that Hawke's Bay's open for business."
The cyclone did major damage to the line, washing away tracks and embankments.
Supports known as piers were washed out from under the bridge, each weighing up to 80 tonnes and anchored 10 metres down into the river bed.
Bits of the old bridge lay half buried in the riverbed below the new one.
According to KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy, the new bridge supports went down 30 metres - three times that of the old one.
He said the fact that the rail bridge was a key freight connection made it a priority for repairs - as well as being a relatively straightforward rebuild.
"It's a critical supply chain infrastructure connection, and also, we could get onto this fairly quickly, whereas other parts of the cyclone damage needed a lot more engineering analysis and diagnosis."
A permanent replacement for the new temporary bridge would be designed and built over the next couple of years, he said.
Napier Port chief executive Todd Dawson said while the railway was down, freight travelled by road - anything from food products, like chilled and frozen meat, to logs, wood pulp, timber, and machinery.
"That's meant quite a bit of change for some of the customers in terms of what they've had to adapt to, particularly for time-sensitive cargos."
Local iwi chair Bayden Barber of Ngāti Kahungunu said the role the rail connection played in the local economy was important to the iwi.
"From an iwi point of view, getting our main rail and roads up and running again is important, because it's the economic spine of our rohe - and Ngāti Kahungunu is all about economic development for our people, not just Māori but for the whole community," he said.
A massive amount of mahi had gone into the rebuild, he said.
"We know the impact that it's had - when we drive past here on the road, we always look to the right to see what's been going on, and the progress of this bridge over the past seven months has been pretty fantastic."