It's still not known when the new foot and cycle bridge between Upokongaro and Papaiti will open for use.

The 130m bridge is a vital link in the Mountains to Sea/Te Ara Tuhono cycleway. It was put in place on March 25, just before the Covid-19 lockdown began.

Whanganui District Council said an easement is still needed for the bridge.

An easement is a right agreed between a landowner and another party to use a property for a particular purpose, and can be registered against the property's title.


An easement across the bed of the river has always been a requirement and is being worked on between the area's relevant hapū, Te Pou Tupua for the Whanganui River and the council. The easement document will need to be final before the bridge can be opened and used.

In the meantime, concrete and fencing work is happening, cycleway lines have been painted in Upokongaro village and there are new distance markers on Somme Pde.

The bridge would have a "grand opening" before the summer tourists arrive, Mayor Hamish McDouall said. Those details are still being finalised.

The bridge was to have been ready for use in April last year. Putting it in place has required the use of the 2017 Te Awa Tupua legislation, the first such consultation between Whanganui River governance entity Ngā Tāngati Tiaki and the council.

That process had been extremely positive, McDouall said.

When the bridge is finished and ready to use, its total cost will be calculated.

The cost was to have been $670,000 for the council, with $600,000 from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and $1.25 million from Waka Kotahi/New Zealand Transport Agency.

It is not clear which body will pay if there is a cost overrun.


There was "absolutely no truth" in a rumour that the council has paid the hapū or Ngā Tāngata Tiaki to get the bridge in place, McDouall said.

"No money has changed hands. That's a ridiculous claim. It's been a very collegial and mana-enhancing relationship."

When the bridge can be used, cycling to Upokongaro will become an attractive option for Whanganui people. But they are discouraged from making it a round trip by heading back to town on SH4.

"The council discourages cyclists from completing a round trip using State Highway 4. The new cycleway presents the safest option for cyclists to use," a council statement said.

Upokongaro is expected to get busier when that link of the cycleway is complete. The council will decide whether to put public toilets there, and what to do with the unused Upokongaro Hall.

Upokongaro residents were divided about whether they want public toilets in their village, McDouall said. If a good use was found for the hall it could be repaired and house the toilets, which would be locked at night.


Consultation about both matters is ongoing.