Date: 04 January 2013
The Heaphy Track, New Zealand's longest Great Walk, now also boasts the longest deck suspension bridge the Department of Conservation has ever built.
The 148.8 metre bridge spans the Heaphy River just upstream from the Lewis Hut about 2.5 hours walk from the Heaphy Hut.
Unusually high flood waters in July destroyed the old Lewis River swing bridge, fast tracking the building of this new suspension bridge, which opened November 30. The wide wooden bridge decking provides safe crossing not only for trampers, but also for mountain bikers.
"The bridge is an impressive structure that sits well in the landscape. The construction teams did a great job to complete it within such a tight timeframe in, at times, quite arduous conditions", said DOC project manager, Eric de Boer.
Heaphy River suspension bridge
The deep concrete foundations were engineered and constructed by DOC teams who then worked with contractors Abseil Access to span the river, 6.5 metres above the water level.
"DOC has recently completed several other improvements to the Heaphy Track with mountain bike accessibility in mind, including wide decked suspension and swing bridges over the Gunner and Swanburn rivers, and upgrades to the track surface which will be appreciated by both the Great Walk trampers and mountain bikers", said Mr de Boer.
"Mountain bike use had increased the visitor numbers over winter, in what was traditionally the quiet period of the year", he said. He anticipated continued interest and attention would attract mountain bikers from all over New Zealand for what is the last year of the mountain bike trial period.
The Heaphy Track mountain bike trial season is May 1 to September 30. This winter is the third season the track has been open to mountain bikes.
Eric de Boer, Buller Kawatiri Area Office
+64 3 788 8008