They say DIY is in Kiwis' DNA. And that was the case for Franz Josef locals who came up with a creative way to get in and out after the Waiho River bridge was destroyed.

With locals stranded, Tim Gibb decided to use his 38-tonne dump truck to ferry more than 35 cars a day across the river as a temporary replacement to the bridge that was washed away on March 26.

Wanting to keep the local economy thriving, Gibbs has taken vehicles, freight and passengers across the river.

He's been inundated with bookings, including taking from carloads of tourists and farm supplies, to cat food and other vehicles needing to get in and out of the area.

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Gibb loaded the truck with 15 tonnes of gravel to level out the slanting tray, while cars are tied down and strapped onto the truck.

Cars were charged $100 for the crossing. Photo / Marianna Muniz Photography
Cars were charged $100 for the crossing. Photo / Marianna Muniz Photography
They say DIY is in our DNA. That was the case for Franz Josef locals who came up with a creative way to get in and out after the Waiho River bridge was damaged. Photo / Marianna Muniz Photography
They say DIY is in our DNA. That was the case for Franz Josef locals who came up with a creative way to get in and out after the Waiho River bridge was damaged. Photo / Marianna Muniz Photography

Crossings cost $100 for cars and $20 each for passengers, with the driver revealing the earnings only just covered his costs.

Gibb averaged 35 trips a day, and on one occasion took more than 50 cars across the river in his truck-turned-ferry-service.

Local photographer Marianna Muniz told the Herald the community thought Gibb's selfless and DIY attitude was inspiring.

"Everyone was stoked with the idea. it was such a great innovation. It was awesome to see locals problem-solve some of our issues. We are in a state of emergency so any safe solution to help locals get in and out was welcomed.

"The whole of the West Coast were pretty thrilled."

But on Wednesday police approached Gibb and with wild weather on the way, together came up with the decision to close down his service because of safety concerns about changeable weather.

Gibb explained police were friendly but revealed a few grey areas in his operation, and agreed to cease the operation.

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Gibb averaged around 35 trips a day across the river. Photo / Marianna Muniz Photography
Gibb averaged around 35 trips a day across the river. Photo / Marianna Muniz Photography

In a statement, a police spokesperson said they recognised the service had been a temporary option for people wishing to get themselves and their vehicles across the Waiho River - but public safety was their first and foremost priority.

"Police have spoken to the operator to explain the concerns and recommended contact be made with NZTA for advice on ensuring compliance. Police have not forced the operator to stop the service. The operator acknowledged the concerns and advised he will stop the service."

Muniz said while the community loved Gibb's DIY ferry, she says the decision to shut it down is wise.

"They can't operate anymore. They shut it down due to safety concerns. We're expecting a fair bit of rain so it was probably a good call.

"He's been quite cautious about safety so it has been such a great initiative to help the community."

In good news for the community, the nearly 30-year-old Waiho River bridge will be reopened tomorrow after being fixed by engineers.

Multiple contractors, the Defence Force's Army Engineers, designers and a supportive local community in South Westland worked to get the new Bailey bridge in place as quickly as possible.

"People have been working extremely hard to get the bridge back over the river and reconnect the communities in South Westland," said Ms Whinham, NZTA's maintenance contract manager for the West Coast.
"The Transport Agency is proud of the work done and the positive attitude everyone has brought to this urgent highway project. Thanks to everyone, especially the South Westland community."

The bridge would be officially reopened at 11am.