The Clifden Suspension bridge spans 111.5 metres over the Waiau River, and is the longest suspension bridge in New Zealand.
Settlers depended on a ferry to get stock and supplies across this dangerous river. By the early 1890s the Government funded a punt attached to a wire rope until the bridge was built in 1898-99 taking ten months to complete. It was opened on 5 April 1899 by Sir Joseph Ward.
Southland County Engineer C H Howorth designed the bridge anchoring the cables into limestone deposits. The tapering towers are 7.5 metres high, the steel cables weigh 28 tonnes and the decking and beams are made from heart totara. The bridge is 3.5 metres wide, and acted as a single lane bridge for horse-drawn traffic although traction engines were soon towing lime and wool over it. Trucks and cars traversed it from the 1920s and it remained in use until 1978 when the current bridge was opened downstream.
This is a category 1 Historic Place – New Zealand Historic Places Trust.
Extensive repair work was undertaken and it was reopened in November 2013 after being closed in 2010 due to its deterioration. The work undertaken by Fulton Hogan and managed by OPUS International on behalf of NZHPT included replacement of bridge bearers, transoms and decking. Maintenance of the suspension ropes, and replacement of bolts and steel bridge bracing was also undertaken. The total cost of the project was $470,000 and was supported through donations from people throughout New Zealand.
ATS Timber was chosen as the preferred timber supplier to this iconic project in conjunction with one of our Approved Resellers in Invercargill and the contractor Fulton Hogan. We also collaborated with engineers to come up with a viable solution to the unique requirements. Trusted Weka SG8 H5 timber products were supplied to replace the deck timbers, transoms, stringers and handrails to bring the icon back to its former glory.