Waianakarua River Bridge

Engineering Work (eg road, bridge, sawmill, dam)


Built from local limestone in 1874, this is one of the oldest bridges still in use in New Zealand's state highway system. It crosses the North Branch of the Waianakarua River on State Highway One, north of Waianakarua.

This fine bridge has 18 metre span skewed arches, which are arches that are oblique to the axis of the bridge. Note too the vermiculated voussoirs, wedge shaped stones which define in a very positive manner the soffits of the arch. It was designed by the Otago Provincial Council’s Chief Commissioner of Surveys and Works, John Turnbull Thomson.

It has been strengthened, widened and refurbished, including reused stone parapets It was reopened with an official ceremony on 11 April 2005.

Heritage Recognition
This place has been recognised by Heritage New Zealand as a Category 1 historic place (List no.348):
Waianakarua River Road Bridge (North Branch):
New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero information (www.heritage.org.nz).

IPENZ “Engineering to 1990” project
This item of New Zealand’s engineering heritage was recognised as part of the IPENZ “Engineering to 1990” project which the Institution organised to help celebrate the country’s sesquicentenary in 1990. A plaque was unveiled to mark the significance of this bridge as part of the development of the nation.


No Attachments


28 kilometres south of Oamaru on State Highway 1, between the townships of Herbert and Waianakarua.

North Otago

Access Info
This bridge is open for public use at all times.

Nature of Engineering
Infrastructure (incl. Road, water, ports), Building and Construction

Lat: -45.2569 Long: 170.7970