New suspension bridge for Hokitika Gorge

4:53 pm on 19 September 2023
Hokitika Gorge on the West Coast.

Hokitika Gorge is a top tourist destination on the West Coast (file photo). Photo: 123RF

A new suspension bridge will replace an old bridge in the lower Hokitika Gorge, after the government provided funding.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) agreed to fund a new bridge, rather than just covering maintenance costs.

The new bridge is expected to cost $500,000, with the council contributing $50,000 and the remainder being met by MBIE's Tourism Infrastructure Fund.

The current bridge will be closed from 1 October, after structural concerns were identified with it.

Westland Mayor Helen Lash said staff made it clear in the funding application that the bridge was vital to the tourism industry in the region.

"We are greatly appreciative that the Ministry understands how important the suspension bridge is to the visitor experience of the Hokitika Gorge," Lash said.

MBIE investment management and performance manager David Talbot said the intent of the Tourism Infrastructure Fund was to support councils to fund important visitor infrastructure, particularly in regions with few ratepayers and high visitor numbers.

DOC Hokitika area manager Owen Kilgour said the department would provide engineering design, project management and construction monitoring. A second suspension bridge was built by DOC in the upper gorge in 2020 to create a loop track.

"We have a lot of expertise in bridge building from our work on the West Coast and we're looking forward to using that for this work which is so important for West Coast tourism."

After the old bridge is closed, visitors will still be able to access the gorge by two walkways - a short walk to the original viewpoint and a longer return journey to the viewing platforms.

The bridge is expected to be completed in time for the 2024/2025 summer season.

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