Whanganui District Council has admitted the placement of the Upokongaro river bridge has been delayed because it did not consult with everyone it needed to.

The pedestrian and cycle bridge from Upokongaro to Papaiti Rd - part of the Mountains to Sea cycle trail - was expected to be in place by April but instead has been sitting alongside the river as council waits for permission.

During the design process council recognised the bridge would be safer from flooding if its abutments were made 800mm higher, which meant it had to apply to Horizons Regional Council for a variation on its resource consent.

Council chief executive Kym Fell said such revisions were not uncommon but they required consultation under both the Resource Management Act and the Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Act.

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"I now understand and acknowledge that we did not identify everyone we needed to speak with at the outset of this project and this is the work we are currently concluding," Fell said.

It was the first time the council had undertaken engagement under the new legislation, and it was learning and developing the processes.

"We are in the final stages of concluding positive discussions with key local stakeholders."

The delay will incur costs. They are being carefully managed, and the final cost will not be known until the end of the project.

The contractor, Emmetts Civil Construction, has been allowed to work on other projects in the meantime, which will minimise costs to the council.

The bridge and cycle link, projected to cost $2.54 million, is being 50 per cent funded by the NZ Transport Agency. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is putting in $600,000 and the council will provide the rest.

Some have guessed the bridge had to be raised to make it high enough for the Waimarie paddlesteamer to pass under. But Fell said the boat would have passed comfortably under the bridge at its original height.

The bridge will be put in place when the resource consent variation is granted, and when weather and other conditions are right. At least two weeks' public notice will be provided before the big day.