The Arahura Bridge Project

Work officially started on building the replacement Arahura road / rail bridge on 8 May 2008 at a sod turning ceremony. This project preserved an important transport link for the West Coast.

Jointly funded by then ONTRACK (succeeded by KiwiRail Infrastructure) and Land Transport New Zealand, the new bridge replaced the original 120-year old, single-lane structure, which was nearing the end of its serviceable life.

The new bridge includes a two lane link for State Highway 6.Speaking at a sod turning ceremony to mark the official start of work on the project, former ONTRACK Chairman Cam Moore said the new bridge would ensure there is an efficient transport link for the local community into the future.

“The bridge is the only direct route between Hokitika and Greymouth for road traffic. It also serves the Hokitika Branch Railway Line, with trains travelling daily to and from the Westland Milk Products dairy factory,” Cam Moore said.

Reconstruction of the Arahura Bridge, as well as the obvious improvements to public safety, provided a more efficient rail link to and from the local dairy factory. This was one of a number of projects in the South Island where ONTRACK had been focusing on improving reliability and increasing capacity to enable more freight to be carried by rail.


It improves public safety by separating road, rail and pedestrian / cycle traffic. The new design also included river guide-banks which would protect the bridge by reducing flood and erosion risks.

To recognise the historic significance of the existing bridge, we retained one of the original timber truss spans to incorporate into the small heritage park near the new bridge.

Transit New Zealand general manager network operations Roly Frost said the Arahura Bridge was, for more than 100 years, the vital link for the West Coast and part of State Highway 6 and Transit viewed the replacement an important step for meeting that link for the future.

HEB Structures was contracted to build the new 220 metre long bridge, which was completed in 2010.  It consists of nine steel and concrete spans and 20 concrete piles. Work was planned in stages to keep State Highway 6 open throughout construction. 

ONTRACK lead the bridge construction and Transit was responsible for the road approaches. The total cost of the bridge, including road and rail works, was approximately $28 million.

More information about the project