The new bridge, in place on the Macetown track. Photo
A footbridge used in the construction of the Clyde Dam
has a new purpose in life, straddling the Arrow River, thanks
to an enthusiastic bunch of Arrowtown locals.
The 30m long bridge, costing about $50,000, was delivered by
helicopter in four sections to the Arrow River gorge last
week, after being readied for the airlift operation at nearby
Glencoe Station, on Crown Terrace.
The bridge will form part of the historic Arrowtown to
Macetown track, on land administered by the Department of
Conservation, providing an alternative to the river ford.
Delivery of the recycled bridge marked the culmination of
eight years' work by the Arrowtown Village Association said
the chairman Richard Newman.
The bridge was originally part of the Clyde Dam project and
been brought up to engineering requirements for the new
location, he explained.
"It's been a big project and a battle to get through all the
red tape. We had to go through a lot of hurdles to get it
He said it would probably be the last bridge the village
association would build, because of the bureaucratic hurdles
and associated costs.
Despite that, he said it was worth the effort and paid
tribute to the hard, hands-on work to Arrowtown trail-blazer
John Mowatt, who had worked enthusiastically for years
rebuilding the Arrow River tracks.
Mr Mowatt said the bridge was originally built by the then
New Zealand Electricity Department.
When the Clyde Dam project ended, it was bought by Bob
Oldham, who stored it in his Wanaka yard, where it was
spotted as a suitable solution for the Arrow River walkway.
The bridge was redesigned by Alexandra engineer Murray
Petherick who had designed all the other footbridges on the
Arrow River project, Mr Mowatt said.
After being rebuilt, with hand rails adjusted for new consent
requirements, it was cut into four sections for transport.
"They weighed just over a tonne each but we transported them
to Glencoe Station, which is above the river, so the
helicopter just had to hover, then drop them down in to the
valley below," said Mr Mowatt.
At the river, two diggers from Jones Contracting in Arrowtown
were used to lift the sections into place for welding and
Securing the sections into place was a major effort, said Mr
"It was fantastic to get it in. Every night I'd wake and hear
it raining and think `we'd never get it in', so now, whenever
it rains, I just lie in bed and smile."
The bridge would be fully commissioned once the approaches
were completed and would then be handed over to the
Department of Conservation, he added.
Doc Queenstown spokesman John Roberts said the department had
assisted where possible with technical details and would give
the bridge "sign off" once it was handed over, "but the hard
yards belong to John Mowatt and his helpers".
"It's been very much a community project".
Mr Newman estimated the bridge had cost about $5000 more than
expected because of the extra bureaucratic costs - although
Lakes Environmental had waived consent application costs -
and was seeking donations "from anyone who would like to
help" to cover costs.