Nikki Preston

Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Old railway bridge gets new lease of life

Visitors remember Ohakune for the giant carrot and the historic Number Two bridge, which is being restored 96 years after it was built. Photo / NZPA
Visitors remember Ohakune for the giant carrot and the historic Number Two bridge, which is being restored 96 years after it was built. Photo / NZPA

The rotten railway bridge opposite Ohakune's giant carrot is being brought back to its former glory by a local couple.

Alpine Motel owners Scott and Dara Graham are spending about $80,000 on restoring the 96-year-old wooden structure to give them access over the Mangateitei stream from Rangataua Rd.

As with Ohakune's much-loved carrot, on the outskirts of the ski town, the historic Number Two bridge is also a popular structure for visitors to play on and take photos with. The bridge was part of the main trunk line to Raetihi and was decommissioned in 1968. The train tracks were later removed.

The Grahams bought property which included the rotting bridge last May and were given the option of either restoring it or building a new bridge over the Mangateitei stream to access the land.

At the moment the land can be accessed only through a neighbouring property.

Mr Graham said both options cost about the same so he and his wife decided to go for the one in keeping with the old town's heritage values.

"It's quite a historic bridge. It would be a shame to let it rot or fall into the stream.

"We really wanted to keep it the way it was originally ... It should look like it did when it was new."

Katikati bridge builders Bridge It and Tauranga engineering firm Teaki have begun replacing the wooden beams and building a wooden deck for vehicles to cross and are expected to finish in mid-February.

The Grahams will then begin work on a four-bedroom house they are looking forward to moving into from their current home on top of the motel.

Mr Graham said their three children had outgrown the current home and they couldn't wait to have somewhere to play.

Bridge It owner Pat Seuren said the bridge would be a much safer structure when they were finished with it.

"People will still be able to look at it and walk across it and climb over it."

Teaki Engineering consultant Donald Richardson said there weren't too many bridges like it around and very few had been upgraded.

- NZ Herald

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