Visit some of New Zealand's early road and transport sites. There are a number of DOC-managed transport heritage sites across the country including Bridge to Nowhere, Heaphy Track and remnants of the Coach Road in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park.

Globally, roads have garnered more investment than any other form of engineering, yet their heritage is thoroughly neglected.

Track and road making - a practice shared by many civilisations – has been governed by three technical innovations: the development of wheeled vehicles; the development of pavement, in which ancient Romans played pivotal roles; and the internal combustion engine.

Maori knowledge of routes proved invaluable to early pakeha explorers and road engineers. Roads Boards were the first legal public entity many early districts formed, raising income for construction and maintenance by charging specific rates on land.

Construction of early New Zealand roads was ruled by three constraints: (1) hand construction costs (2) pavement costs, and (3) the operating requirements of horses. Early roads in hilly country involved a minimum of earthworks, which meant minimum width and following the terrain.

The sites that DOC manages under this theme are:s:


  • Kerikeri, Mataraua Forest
  • Waoku Coach Road, Waipoua Forest 1898 – 1905. Category I Historic Place, Historic Places Act.


  • George Grey’s Coach Road, Kawau Island, 1868
  • Rangitoto bach community roads, 1920s


  • Ohakune Coach Road, Tongariro National Park, 1888 - 1906
  • Opepe Redoubt Historic Site, Opepe Reserve, 1869


  • Aukopae Road Tunnel, near Taumarunui, 1923
  • Bridge to Nowhere, Mangapurua Valley, 1936
  • Rahiri Lodge, Mt Taranaki, 1929
  • Whanganui River Road Culvert, 1910 - 1934


  • Old Chrome Road, Hacket Chromite Mines, 1862

West Coast

  • Britania Pack Track
  • Browning Pass Track
  • Brunner Bridge, 1877 – managed by Grey District Council
  • Buller Kawatiri, Inland Pack Track, Cobblestones, 1867
  • Copland Track 
  • Croesus Track
  • Denniston Bridle Track
  • Fenian Goldfields, Oparara Pack Track
  • Gillespies Beach Track
  • Heaphy Track, Heaphy Hut to West Coast Boundary, HeaphyTrack and Features, 1886
  • Kanierie Racemans Track
  • Kirwins Pack Track
  • Lyell Pack tracks
  • Moonlight Track
  • Murray Creek Pack Tracks
  • Okarito Pack Track, Okarito Pack Track, 1929
  • Haast Paringa Cattle Track, Blue River Hut (Blowfly Hut), Paringa-Haast Pack Track, South Westland,1875,
  • Knights Point Memorial, South Westland, 1965
  • Smoothwater Track, South Westland, 1875
  • Waiuta/Big River Pack Track
  • Wanganui Pack Track, Wanganui Pack Track, 1870


  • Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, Coach Road, Causeway and Bridge Abutment, Lagoon Stream (Woolshed Creek), 1880
  • Arthur’s Pass National Park, Bealey Hotel site, 1865
  • Arthur’s Pass National Park, Coaching Milestone, Goldney Saddle, 1865
  • Arthur’s Pass National Park, Coaching Milestone, Waimakariri Bridge, 1865
  • Arthur’s Pass National Park, Remains of Old Coach Road, Greyneys, 1865
  • Coach Road walk, Arthur’s Pass
  • Cobb & Co “Seddon” Coach, Arthur’s Pass (On loan from Canterbury Museum)
  • Craigieburn Conservation Park, Browning Pass Road remnants and Pack Track, 1865
  • Craigieburn Conservation Park, Manson's Creek Coaching Stop, 1865
  • Jack’s Hut, Arthur’s Pass, 1890


  • Central Otago, Horseshoe Bend Bridge, 1913
  • Coastal Otago, Dead Horse Pinch Historic Reserve , Dead Horse Pinch, 1865
  • Coastal Otago, Tunnel Hill Historic Reserve, Tunnel Hill, 1892
  • Wakatipu, Recreation Reserve, Oxenbridge Tunnel, 1910


  • Marian Hill Rock Cutting, Milford Road, 1935
  • Puysegur Point Lighthouse Road, 1877
Back to top