Ohau Road Bridge
Old Iron Bridge Road, Twizel
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Private/No Public Access
25th June 2004
Crown land (under action) SO 15709, Canterbury Land District. (Currently no CT or gazette notice available)
Registration Includes: The bridge on its site.
In the early years of New Zealand's exploration and settlement many people drowned attempting to cross rivers. On main routes when accommodation houses were erected by river crossings the Provincial Governments made it a condition of the license holder that he assisted people to cross. Over the years various ferries, punts, cable ways, etc. were utilised before bridges could be provided.
The crossing of the Ohau River on the route through the Mackenzie County between Lake Tekapo and Omarama (now State Highway 8) was eased initially by provision of a cableway. In 1889 the Waitaki County Council, aided by a 50% grant from the Mackenzie County Council, decided to build a road bridge. The bridge was probably designed by Waitaki County Council Engineer Charles Banks. The metal work was fabricated in Dunedin, and erected by R. and S. Sparrow under the direction of works manager Edward Roberts - later a private consultant engineer renowned as a designer of gold dredges. The total cost was £1,033 and 7 shillings.
In the 1970s when the upper Waitaki Hydro scheme was constructed and Lake Ruataniwha was formed, the State Highway was realigned bypassing the historic bridge. It now just provides a route to the former river bed and forms an additional "scenic attraction".
Historical Significance or Value
It has historical significance for its role in improving transport links through the Mackenzie Country.
The former Ohau Road Bridge has technological significance as an intact example of a nineteenth century deck arch road bridge.
(a) it represents the formation of a reliable and comprehensive transport infrastructure throughout New Zealand in the late Victorian period, a factor integral to the country's economic development.
(g) It is a technically accomplished and rare example of an intact Victorian single-span deck-arch road bridge. It was regarded to be of sufficient importance to the community to be retained when bypassed by a new highway.
No biography is currently available for this construction professional
A single-span deck-arch bridge, with a clear span of 36.5 metres and an overall length of 41.5 metres. It is single lane width and has heavy river stone abutments.
Steel arch, with a timber balustrade and decking.
3rd September 2004
Report Written By
Mackenzie District Council
Mackenzie District Council
New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)
New Zealand Historic Places Trust
NZHPT Building Record Form
Geoffrey Thornton, Bridging the Gap, Early Bridges in New Zealand 1830-1939, Auckland, 2001
The bridge was formerly on State Highway 8, but this highway was realigned after the Ruataniwha Dam was built and the bridge now covers a section of lake water at the termination of Old Iron Bridge Road (See plans in Registration Report).
A fully referenced version of this report is available from the NZHPT Southern Region Office.
Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.