The rules have changed for the nation's bridges, giving tractor-driver David Heads a job few would envy - towing logs over the Tukituki River in Hastings.

It's because of a rule change allowing for larger and heavier trucks on our roads, but some bridges can't yet handle the extra weight.

Until the Waimarama Bridge is strengthened, the trucks must disconnect their trailers so David can tow them across separately.

"They don't have to go across here but McCarthy Transport and Pan Pac would prefer we use the bridge rather than the Tuki Tuki Rd because of all the residents that live down there and cyclists," he said.


It's a short and straight journey, and he does it up to 30 times a day starting at 4.30 in the morning.

While he enjoys his job, David doesn't enjoy the "shocking" driving habits of some motorists.

"I try to be really polite to them because I don't want to get offside with anybody. And they all give me waves in the morning and that – lovely people – but the speed through here is…quite incredible really.

"Somebody will get hit, but I can't do anything about the traffic. The signs are up every day and we can't do much more than that."

A nationwide shortage of truck drivers is making David's retirement elusive.

"I serviced heavy vehicles for 21 years and then I retired – I thought I'd retired. Then I was piloting heavy vehicles – I did that for just about 4 years. And then I did retire, when I was 70, and my daughters put on Facebook - 'Dad's finally retired after 50 years' and the phone started ringing."

The bridge will be expensive to upgrade so it must wait for a new Hastings District Council Long Term Plan budget.

The upgrade will also be lengthy, so with plenty of logs still to come from the hills, retirement might have to take a back seat.

It's safe to say David's probably in this job for the long haul.

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