Old Rakaia Gorge Bridge

Gorge Bridge Road, Windwhistle

  • Old Rakaia Gorge Bridge. CC Licence 3.0 Image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org.
    Copyright: Greg O'Beirne - Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Greg O'Beirne. Date: 25/05/2006.
  • Old Rakaia Gorge Bridge. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: PhilBee NZ - Phil Braithwaite. Taken By: PhilBee NZ - Phil Braithwaite. Date: 15/05/2016.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 272 Date Entered 5th September 1985


City/District Council

Selwyn District


Canterbury Region


This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. The following text is the original citation considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Old Rakaia Gorge Bridge Gorge Bridge Road, Windwhistle

When the iron suspension bridge was built over the Rakaia Gorge in 1880-82 there was a possibility that it might be needed for rail as well as road traffic along this important inland Canterbury route. The proposed railway never eventuated but the strongly constructed 57 metre bridge survives as one of the few nineteenth century components in the main highway network.

It is a Bollman Truss bridge, following the design patented by a United States railway engineer in 1852, where a series of non-symmetrical trussed beams of iron are jointed to vertical members by hinged pins to facilitate construction. A sound design, it enjoyed brief success before it was superseded by more economical iron bridges and there is now only one surviving example in the United States. It is near Baltimore and though in poor repair, is recognised as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. Therefore the well maintained, continually used Rakaia Gorge Bridge has international significance as the best example of this interesting phase of bridge development.

An important monument to the skills of early New Zealand engineers, this bridge is notable for its age, excellent condition and unique design.


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1882 -

Other Information

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.