Historic bridge collapses on Kāpiti Coast, leaves beams, debris in river
A wooden bridge that's more than a century old has collapsed on the Kāpiti Coast, north of Wellington.
The heritage bridge died a lonely death, as a result of no traffic and unclear ownership and maintenance.
Kāpiti Coast District Council has advised people to stay clear of the historic Ngatiawa bridge, previously closed to the public, after its collapse.
Heritage New Zealand says the bridge's demise is a "considerable loss of heritage", but it appears unclear who actually owns it.
Acting infrastructure services group manager Glen O'Connor said wooden beams and debris from the bridge, in Reikorangi, east of Waikanae, were resting in the Ngatiawa River below.
"While we appreciate the bridge holds significant historical value for the district, particularly for Reikorangi residents, we are advising people to stay well clear as debris may come loose and cause harm."
O'Connor said the bridge collapse was brought to the council's attention this week, "but we understand from talking to local residents that it may have collapsed last Thursday evening".
The bridge, which sits besides Mangaone South Rd, was replaced on that road by a new concrete bridge in about 1980, according to Heritage New Zealand. That bridge is about 100m up-river.
In the early 1990s a local trust was set up to advocate for maintenance on the bridge and possibly acquire it.
However, on Thursday, O'Connor said the Ngatiawa Bridge Trust was "no longer active".
"The council has some responsibility for this bridge and we are currently working through a process with stakeholders to facilitate the safe removal of the bridge debris."
The bridge was built in 1912 to 1913 and is registered Category 2 under the under the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act.
Heritage New Zealand said the 27-metre bridge was an example of a Howe truss bridge, which were once common throughout New Zealand.
"It is historically significant as it marks the boundary of what was once the Horowhenua and Hutt county councils."
Heritage New Zealand advisor Blyss Wagstaff said timber Howe truss bridges – although once common in New Zealand – were becoming rarer with each year.
"The collapse of the Ngatiawa bridge is a considerable loss of heritage."