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Vicarage Bridge

Key points for consideration

  • Community division: The absence of the bridge has created a division within the community
  • Project timeline: The goal is to deliver a permanent replacement structure to the community by mid-2025
  • Alignment choice: Rebuilding the bridge on the existing alignment is the preferred approach to meet the required timeline and stakeholder expectations
  • Environmental considerations: The impact on fish spawning in the river is being carefully considered throughout the project's planning and execution.


The original bridge at Puketapu was a 129m swing bridge and was in place between 1906 - 1962. This was then replaced by a 122m concrete bridge with six concrete spans and the following specs:

Bridge length 122m
Span arrangement Six spans of 20.33m length each
Bridge width 4.47m
Carriageway width 3.8m
Lane arrangement Single lane

Following the destruction of the concrete bridge during Cyclone Gabrielle, a temporary bridge (bridge, ford or pedestrian bridge) was deemed not suitable for the location due to site restrictions, timeframes and costs.


  • Demolition is complete
  • Crushed concrete material from demolition is available to be reused in the rebuild to minimise environmental impacts
  • Steel material has been recycled locally
  • '1963' columns have been kept for a memorial

Puketapu Bridge post demolition

Design considerations

  • Possibly two lanes with pedestrian pathway
  • Increased height due to flooding risk
  • Increased pile depth
  • Longer spans and fewer columns
  • Earthquake considerations
  • Following best practice engineering guidelines and standards

Puketapu bridge examples

Puketapu School site visit

In October 2023, Puketapu School students visited the bridge site where they got to learn about various elements of the rebuild including geotechnical testing from our team of engineers. HDC are looking to keep the school involved in the project where possible. 

School visit


Feasibility study July 2023
Mana whenua engagement and site investigations September 2023, ongoing
Puketapu Community Meeting September 2023
Pre-application discussions with Hawke's Bay Regional Council and demolition October 2023
Puketapu School site visit October 2023
Tender process to confirm contractor November 2023-February 2024
Draft methodology and construction drawings TBC
Resource consent lodgement and processing Early 2024
Packaged design delivery TBC
Blessing ahead of works beginning TBC
Works begin First half of 2024
Public open day TBC
Blessing to open bridge  Aiming for late-2025

Works completed to date

A feasibility study has been conducted to assess and the engineering challenges linked to each potential bridge crossing location. The study aims to propose bridge concepts that are achievable from an engineering standpoint. The feasibility report is based on the following:

  • Geometrics
  • Hydrology and climate effects
  • Geotechnical/geology considerations
  • Environmental considerations
  • Constructability
  • Cost
  • Social impacts
  • Other factors

The team have also completed:

  • Ecological impact assessment
  • Archaeological assessment
  • Land contamination testing
  • Geotechnical borehole testing

 Borehole testing

Community meetings

Date Location Status
Thursday 28 September Taradale Town Hall COMPLETE

Tuesday 5 March, 6:00pm-7:30pm

Taradale Town Hall UPCOMING

Details of further meetings will be added here, as and when confirmed.

Questions & Answers 

Following the community meeting in September the questions asked were summarized into the following topics:

HDC have heard the community concerns on the safety around the bridge. As part of this rebuild project, the project team are now also looking at safety improvements to the Vicarage Road/Dartmoor Road intersection. 

The new bridge will have two vehicle lanes and a shared user path on the downstream side. 

The bridge demolition material has been recycled where possible and the crushed concrete will be used in the rebuild project to minimise environmental impacts.

HDC are expecting to have a contractor onboard to provide construction advice in early 2024. The physical works are expected to start in the first half of the year. We are aiming to complete the physical works in the middle of 2025.

The new bridge is being designed to withstand the water flows of Cyclone Gabrielle at a minimum. The new bridge will be approx. 3 metres higher than the previous bridge height.


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