News: Excitement builds as bridge project nears completion

9 July 2022

Work on a new 150m long suspension bridge spanning the Tauherenikau River is progressing well, with bridge builders Abseil Access expected to finish the build shortly.

Work on the trails and signage on either side of the river is underway, including boardwalks, picnic area and trails from carparks. When finished, it will be one of the longest walk and cycle suspension bridges in the country.

The Tauherenikau Bridge will connect two of our Wairarapa towns, Featherston and Greytown, and is the first milestone in the Five Towns Trail Network Project. 

South Wairarapa District Council chief executive Harry Wilson said the bridge, when opened, would be an enormous asset to the district.

“It’ll pave the way for a wonderful recreational trail and judging by the success of trails elsewhere, it will have long-term economic benefits for our region.

“Cyclists and walkers will be able to travel between Featherston and Greytown in a direct and scenic way while avoiding the state highway. We are thankful to government stimulus funding for enabling the project to progress so fast.”

The bridge is part of an ambitious plan for approximately 200km of off-road recreational trails throughout Wairarapa.

Signature trails will connect the five Wairarapa towns, with a series of loops and experience trails and local trails for communities and visitors to enjoy.

In its entirety, the Five Towns Trail Network is expected to cost over $30 million, including the infrastructure to cross multiple rivers. 

The network’s Master Plan – funded by Trust House Foundation and the three Wairarapa Councils – was launched in October 2021. It outlines the project’s vision and shows how such trails can benefit the Wairarapa in terms of both wellbeing and tourism.

Early fundraising for design and consenting of the Tauherenikau Bridge was raised by Greytown Trails Trust, which is leading the project.

Construction funding was sought successfully by Wairarapa Trails Action Group in 2020 from the Government’s Infrastructure Reference Group, a fund for shovel-ready infrastructure projects in response to the impact of Covid-19.

The bridge is fueling excitement with cyclists and walkers alike.   

Greytown Trails Trust project lead Shane Atkinson and Trust Chair John Bushnell are happy that the build is nearing completion after more than five years of planning, and are looking forward to opening this incredible piece of infrastructure. 

However, they stress how important it is that people obey the signs and stay away from the bridge until the official opening, due to health and safety risks of it being a construction site. 

“Construction is taking place within the rail corridor which is illegal to access without consent from KiwiRail.  The success of this project is dependent on our relationship with KiwiRail and we do not want anything to jeopardise that,” Shane said.

The aim is for the bridge to be officially opened in early September 2022.

Meanwhile, the team behind the project – including the Council – is working through options to improve safety and user experiences on both Featherston and Greytown sides of Underhill Road. 

To find out more about the Five Towns Trail Network Project, check out the Master Plan and receive updates at

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