Walking New Zealand

West Coast Kawatiri Trail links with new Nile Bridge


People wanting to walk or bike the Kawatiri Coastal Trail from Westport to Charleston can now safely cross the Nile River without having to use the State Highway 6 road bridge.

As West Coasters are very proud of their history, the location of the cycleway crossing was decided in order to bring back to life a historic 19th century gold rush trail.

Built at the same spot the first bridge was constructe­d on in 1866, the Nile Bridge is the latest phase on the family friendly Grade 2 track to be completed.

Ann Neill, Principal Heritage Specialist for Waka Kotahi, said: “The original idea was to build the new bridge using the historic remains of the first suspension bridge on the site. However, research found that the former bridge towers and cable anchors were an archaeolog­ical site and protected under the Heritage NZ Pouhere Taonga Act. To avoid damaging the historic remains, the design team lengthened the deck span and moved the towers back by 2.5m - an excellent example of sustainabi­lity and adaptive reuse.”

Following a dedicated cycle path, the heritage trail offers riders an invigorati­ng experience along a truly spectacula­r coastline. The breath-taking route meanders an enviable mix of rugged cliffs, crashing seas, wildlife, forest, suspension bridges, boardwalks, pristine wetlands, shelters and interpreti­ve signage brimming with remarkable stories and local secrets. When completed it is hoped it will receive Great Ride Status.

The trail is expected to be completed by June 2022 and the bridge will be officially opened next month. Above: The new Nile Bridge.

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