The new Taipa Bridge on State Highway 10 in Northland has opened to one-lane traffic.
First across the bridge on Friday was truck driver Darren Rupapera, from Kaitaia, who was on a routine delivery run.
"I come through Taipa just about every day and this will be a great improvement. It's a great day for Northland," Rupapera said.
"When they told me I was going to be the first to drive over the new bridge I was so excited. It's something I'll always have to tell my mokopuna. Man, it's an honour.
"The old bridge is closed to traffic but the pedestrian footpath on it will remain open.
NZ Transport Agency project delivery senior manager Chris Hunt said the switch of traffic over to the new bridge structure would create a safe area for crews to demolish the old bridge. Half of the new bridge would be used for machinery and equipment in the demolition process.
Demolition is expected to take four to six months and the bridge will only carry single-lane traffic during that time.
During work hours, traffic movements will be controlled by temporary traffic lights or manual stop/go traffic managers.
"We ask motorists to follow the directions of the traffic managers and take extra care. Drivers and pedestrians will have to adjust to the intersection of [the] state highway and Oruru Rd being closer to the Taipa shops' carpark."
Hunt said there would be some restrictions on over-dimensional loads crossing the new bridge.
The bridge's location on Northland's main tourist connection, the Twin Coast Discovery Route, means it plays a critical role in the Northland economy.
When completed, the new two-lane bridge will improve traffic flow through the town. It will also improve safety on and around the bridge and at nearby intersections, while providing safer, more reliable, travel options including cycling and walking.