A first for New Zealand as pioneering river crossing lifts off

700LOWER HATEA BRIDGE_openfromside (2)

The spectacular NZ$32 million Lower Hatea Crossing in New Zealand has just been officially opened by Whangarei MP Phil Heatley, tribal elders and local dignitaries. Although the bridge has already been in use by the public for a month, the launch celebrations have helped showcase this exceptional project to the world. The occasion was marked by a powhiri – a Mauri welcoming ceremony – and a flotilla of boats.

A team of specialist engineering consultants has been instrumental in creating the bridge, which posed particular challenges because it traverses the PoheIsland landfill site and deep marine sediments that required solutions to unpredictable settlement. It is based on a traditional rolling bascule design, the first of its kind in New Zealand. At 265m long and 17m wide, it spans a tidal river estuary and is intended to reduce congestion in the city centre – carrying up to 8,000 vehicles per day – and improve access to Whangarei Heads and the airport. Its 25m wide lifting section is designed to allow yachts and other river traffic of taller than 7.5m to transit the bridge.

The eye-catching curved ‘J’ shapes featured on the section are an interpretation of the fishhook motif popular in Mauri culture, and the bridge is officially named Te Matau a Pohe – ‘the fishhook of the Pohe’. Martin Knight of Knight Architects who designed the bridge comments, “Function and form, engineering and architecture, are perfectly integrated and completely indivisible in this design.”


Client: Whangarei District Council
Structural Engineer: Peters & Cheung
Architect: Knight Architects
Mechanical, Hydraulic and Electrical Engineer: Eadon Consulting
Road Engineer: NCC Consulting Engineers ,
Lighting Design: Speirs & Major
Contractor: McConnell Dowell / Transfield

Gail Taylor