Jumping into the river from the old Taipa bridge has made for generations of summer family fun in Doubtless Bay.
But New Zealand Transport Agency has poured cold water on plans to jump off its new bridge in the Far North town.
Having initially promised a viewing platform to leap from, it has backpedalled and is now putting up warning signs.
The transport authority "strongly advises" parents to discourage children from jumping from the newly constructed $19 million bridge on State Highway 10 and will be installing ''Caution – Submerged Hazards" signs prior to the official opening on December 2.
"While the original plan was to provide a jumping/swimming platform, a recent health and safety review by the project team found that it would not be possible to provide such a platform where it would be safe to jump at all times," NZTA portfolio manager Stephen Collett said.
"The NZ Transport Agency does not condone jumping off the bridge, as it is potentially dangerous with the possibility of injuries from submerged hazards, rocks, floating debris and passing boats. The risk of injury from submerged hazards and rocks is particularly significant at low tide."
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Work to transform the old one-lane bridge started in 2017 under Simon Bridges' Northland Bridges programme.
Bridges' promise to turn 10 one-way bridges in Northland into double-lane bridges was made during the 2015 byelections.
Half of the new two-lane Taipa bridge was opened to pedestrians and vehicles in February while the other half was used for machinery and equipment in the demolition process.
End of era as one-lane Taipa Bridge demolition almost complete
It opened to two lanes of traffic on the Friday before Labour weekend.
NZTA acknowledged early on that the bridge is important to local hapū and that kids love to jump off the structure during the summer.
The proposal said a platform would be provided for kids in a similar location to where it is now.
And while jumping from the bridge was temporarily taken off the agenda this year and no-jumping signs installed while work was carried out, locals were under the impression they would soon have a new platform to leap from.
"It will be unsafe to jump for most of 2019, but when the project is finished you will have a fabulous new viewing platform," a spokesperson previously stated.
NZTA also said the viewing platform "was to acknowledge the bridge's place in the community as a summertime resting and diving spot for kids of all ages".
Opposition leader Simon Bridges said he's proud his project has been accomplished but "it's a real pity" there won't be a jumping platform.
"When I left the Beehive NZTA was clear on putting in a bombing platform. That was the fun part of the bridge project that really captured my imagination. I realise it's all about transport but kids will be kids and will want to jump off it and they're going to anyway."
Bridges said he might "pack his board shorts next time I'm up that way and give it a go, as long as I'm not going to be arrested".
Whatuwhiwhi resident Vanessa Raui said all four of her kids have jumped from the bridge over the years.
Now aged between 14 and 22, Ezekiel, Shalynd, Fleurnik and Te Atenga started jumping when they began attending Taipa Area School and have never been hurt, Raui said.
"It's always been a summer pastime for the kids, you see them on the weekends with their families. That's what creates memories for them. They always talk about jumping off the bridge and swimming with dolphins, there's not many kids that can say that."
Taipa Area School principal Doreen Bailey said the school has held annual "controlled jumps" over the years, where safety measures are in place.
"We will have to reassess this with the new bridge and what that might look like. As a school we have to keep health and safety in mind."
Bailey said kids have already jumped off the new bridge in recent weekends.
"If you build a bridge in the North people are going to jump off it. It's the same as every bridge up here in the North."
Resident Merv Priestley said it's generally safest to jump one hour either side of high tide.
But lately he has seen kids jumping off the headstocks, "which is a worry, as they're quite shallow".
His idea to install a ladder at the deepest point would "make it obvious where it's safest to jump".
"But kids are going to jump wherever they can to try something different. There's no point putting signage up because they're going to jump anyway."
Waitangi Treaty Grounds cultural manager Mori Rapana said jumping from bridges was part of New Zealand, and particularly Māori, culture.
"You have to do it, it's like a bucket list thing. If you haven't jumped off a bridge then you haven't lived. For me, as Māori, we like to show off. We like to showcase our egos when it comes to jumping off the bridges. It's all about who's got the biggest bombs and who's got the biggest splash."
The Taipa bridge comes complete with striking waka tauihu (prow) and taurapa (stern) end panels of a seafaring waka which adorn each end of the structure, acknowledging Taipā as one of the first landing places in New Zealand of the Polynesian explorer Kupe.
NZTA said there is some minor finishing work to be done before the official opening on Monday, December 2.
The carved waka inserts, the pou whenua and the memorial plaques will be covered until the dawn blessing at 5.15am followed by the opening by Associate Transport Minister Shane Jones at 10.30am.