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Permanent bridge and large culvert rebuilds

Hastings District Council are currently developing the delivery process for the rebuilds of those bridges and large culverts destroyed during Cyclone Gabrielle.

Vicarage Bridge

Feasibility study

A feasibility study has been conducted to understand the unique engineering challenges at each potential bridge site, with the aim of proposing practical bridge concepts.

The top three priority bridge sites are Puketapu, Matapiro, and Waiohiki/Redclyffe. Puketapu and Matapiro have financial and time constraints crucial for reconnecting communities quickly.

The feasibility study provides a starting point, and we will be incorporating input from both mana whenua and the community into the bridge design process. This collaborative approach will ensure the final design meets engineering standards and community needs.

Design considerations

The destroyed bridges in Hastings District were built before the 1960s. They were designed back when our knowledge and methods for designing, building, and maintaining bridges were not as advanced as they are today. We've made substantial advancements in these areas, which guide us in planning and building new bridges.  Today's design standards can handle even extreme weather events like Cyclone Gabrielle.

 The design considerations for the replacement bridges can be summarized as follows:

  • Increased freeboard clearance: The new bridges will have a higher freeboard clearance to provide greater space between the bridge and the water during flood events and include climate change adjustments using the current best estimates.
  • Longer spans and fewer columns: Whenever feasible, the bridges will incorporate longer spans and fewer columns in the water. This design approach aims to reduce the risk of flow blockage caused by debris and slash during flood events. However, earthquake resilience is still a major consideration.
  • Circular columns: Circular columns will be considered in the bridge design to minimize the chances of debris getting trapped at the piers. This helps maintain the river's flow and mauri, or life force.
  • Traffic and pedestrian capacity: The capacity to accommodate both vehicular traffic and pedestrians will be a key consideration in the design of all bridge rebuilds, ensuring functionality and safety for all users.

Old (red) vs new design to current standards - Puketapu example

Old vs new bridge designs

Resilience and sustainability


  • Design for extreme events  e.g. flood and earthquake
  • Redundancy
  • Climate resilience
  • Adaptive infrastructure
  • Material selection
  • Regulatory compliance


  • Material selection
  • Low-impact design
  • Longevity and durability
  • Green construction practices
  • Transportation efficiency
  • Maintenance and rehabilitation
  • Progressive procurement

Bridge and large culvert rebuild list

Note: Some of the bridges and large culverts below already have temporary structures in place:

Not in immediate work programme

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Partnering with mana whenua

HDC partner with mana whenua for projects that have an impact to waterways, this partnership is underpinned by the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and the statutory acknowledgments of mana whenua over our local rivers.

Statutory acknowledgements record some of the special associations mana whenua have with sites or areas, associations that are recognised by the Crown through the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process and the Acts that give effect to those settlements. These statutory acknowledgements influence the Resource Management Act 1991 processes for a proposal.

In planning the construction of permanent bridges to replace those lost during Cyclone Gabrielle, HDC will be partnering with mana whenua to help guide our decision making. This will lead to engagement with the wider community.

Ongoing considerations

Work in the waterway

  • Erosion and sediment control measures
  • Spill management plans
  • Avoid working in the waterway during fish spawning season

Mana whenua

  • Recognition of statutory acknowledgements over waterways
  • Project partnership of design and build of bridges
  • Cultural impact assessments

Surrounding community

Ongoing updates by way of:

  • Community meetings
  • Bridges project page on the HDC website with specific bridge sub-pages
  • MailChimp newsletters sent to targeted databases (includes newsletter sign-ups, rural, transportation companies, emergency services, and schools)
  • Media releases and posts on HDC social channels

Roading and transport network

  • Ensuring the roading network remains open
  • Considering all options for the wider network

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