New Kopu Bridge Opened


It’s hard to believe but this Christmas you won’t have to wait for ages to cross the Kopu Bridge at busy times.

Prime Minister John Key and an equally smiling transport minister Steven Joyce today opened the new $47m two-lane Kopu bridge and the public was able to go for a stroll before traffic uses it from Monday.

The project involved the construction of a new 580m-long, two-lane bridge over the Waihou River, a new four-leg, two-lane roundabout at the junction of SH25 and SH26, and 2.5km of associated approach roads, including a new link road to SH26 east of the bridge.

The new bridge is 12.95m wide with 3.5m wide traffic lanes, 1.2m shoulders and a combined pedestrian/cycle lane on the north side of the bridge.

This pedestrian/cycle lane is separated from the traffic lanes by a concrete barrier with designs cast in the concrete.

The new $47m Kop[u bridge | NZTA

The previous one lane bridge was built in 1927/8 and is still considered structurally sound.
It will remain because of its heritage value and may be used for cycling and walking.

Kopu bridge was finished ahead of schedule | NZTA

The new bridge is built on soft soils, the piles are up to 55m deep, and 6-8 piles are required to support each bridge pier. NZTA Project Services Manager Bryce Carter says that if all the piles were laid end to end, they would reach from Kopu to Thames.

The piles extend up to 55m into the bed of the Waihou River. Soils in this area are soft silts laid down by the river over thousands of years, so long piles were needed to support the weight of the bridge.

Kopu bridge construction last June

The project was begun under Labour but the National Government brought it forward in 2009 as part of the government jobs and growth plan. The government says the project created 50 jobs that would not have been available and local services were able to supply their input.

It was due to be finished about mid-2012.

Obviously it’s been finished ahead of time so can be used at Christmas when there can be queues of cars for 10 kilometres.

Waiting to cross the old bridge

I’ve been stuck in such queues at that time of year - and am looking forward to trying out the new bridge on Christmas Day.




  1. James F says:

    I’m all for projects containing new pedestrian/cycling infrastructure where needed - but, in this case - as the old bridge is being retained as a heritage structure - why were they included at all!? Why not reroute cyclists over the old bridge?

    Also, does anyone else think that $47m seems REALLY inflated?

  2. Anthony says:

    I have heard they are going to keep the swing bridge open permanently to allow boats to pass through.

  3. BD says:

    I bet the opening of the New Kopu bridge to Joyce was like watching a porn movie to some people.

  4. ingolfson says:

    I drove past on Saturday night - shame it wasn’t open. There’s rumors that they will only open it one-way at first, but those may just be rumors!

    Oh, and a little niggle (sorry for being pedantic) - the bridge has no “pedestrian/cycle lane”. A “lane” is part of the carriageway (between the kerbs). Anything off the carriageway is called a “path”. I think the difference is important, because when they hear cycle lane, most people think of a line of paint, compared to the much more pleasant and protected cycling environment of a “cycle path”.

  5. Mike says:

    I drove over it this morning. Both lanes are open and the approach roads are we bit nicer. Just bit of a shock after 20 years. The cycle/walking path is protected by a concrete barrier.

    Anthony is correct the old bridge will be kept open I think.

    Walking over the bridge on Saturday you can see how stuffed the old one was. Pieces missing or just hanging off!!

  6. Geoff Houtman says:

    My brother came back to town over it yesterday avo. Huge jam, on the Coro side the queue stretched back to the main highway.

    I hope it’s not going to be a Victoria Park Tunnel type of “improvement”.

    BD- Too funny, lol ed my coffee everywhere.

    Question- haven’t been over it yet- if the new bridge AND the old bridge are working on busy days will the queues lessen? I.E. Do they end on separate pieces of road?

  7. ingolfson says:

    Geoff, the new bridge now has exactly the same kind of capacity as the open road. So there should be no jams AT ALL anymore.

    Any queues at the moment would be due to approach roads not yet finished fully / construction signage still around / still lots of sightseers?

    And the old bridge will be “decoupled” from the main road. You may still be able to access it (not sure if you will still be able to cross in the longer run, probably not) but it won’t serve for motor vehicle traffic anymore - possibly, if they can scrounge up the money for the repairs that are needed, it might become part of a walk/cycleway, though with the new bridge having that provision, the pressure to find the money to protect and repair the heritage bridge to a safe and useable standard will be even lower.

    “Walking over the bridge on Saturday you can see how stuffed the old one was. Pieces missing or just hanging off!! ”

    I know I am getting on my soapbox here, but that is what happens when you plow all money into new roading instead of maintenance. Plus of course, the bridge was so heavily in demand that they could never really close it for a real maintenance regime.

  8. Mike says:

    They really only stopped maintaining the old bridge once the new one was confirmed for a start date. It had been fine for years then fell apart pretty quickly recently.

    The traffic flow should be fine, probably a reduced speed limits for people get used to the new layout.
    In the past few months the traffic has been shocking as the roads have been changing and bloodly lines going everywhere.
    I was a little bit sad, never really minded the old bridge (It was perfectly fine for 350 days a year, biggest delay we ever had would be about 40 minutes, which is the added time to go through Paeroa) and wanted to drive on it one last time. I thought the new bridge was opening tueday but oh well.

    The bridge at Tairua might be an issue now but at least 60% of the traffic should turn off for Panaui, Whangamata plus whatever goes up the Thames coast. It might take only one high traffic day for Whitianga bound people to take Coroglen route
    (God help us if City raised people try that road with 4wds and boat trailers)

  9. Mike says:


    The old bridge will be closed to vehicles from now on (I actually went back I tried to see if it was still open)

    They plan to have the cycle track over it, which would be nice but they will just keep the central span open for boats. I am not sure how that will work but the bridge will need to be maintained anyway since it is heritage site now. It will propably just be a look out point with maybe the odd closing for special ride/walk overs.

    The new bridge is build higher to allow boats under without opening.

  10. Geoff Houtman says:

    Thank you ingolfson and Mike.

    Would’ve been nice to be able to use both on the busy days. But if the old one is to be a walking/cycling bridge that’s a win too..

  11. Mike says:

    It would be completely pointless. It has been a single lane each way for the prior 50-60km from Maramarua. There is a double lane round about at the intersection and when free flowing (as seen out on the hauraki planes) the traffic volume is high but not likley high enough to cause problems.

    The rumors about having one lane open was due to concerns the new approach roads had not settled enough. That way the loading would have been less this summer giving it more time.

    That hasn’t happened and driving over it prior to the full change over I reckon there would have been a major crash at night.

  12. Matt L says:

    ingolfson - there will still be queues but just not as big and not caused by the bridge, traffic still has to negotiate the intersection with SH26


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