Karakia marks formal opening of suspension bridge on Taranaki Maunga

Published: 28 May, 2024

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A karakia and blessing by Ngāti Ruanui marked the formal opening of the suspension bridge over the Manganui Gorge, one of the most striking features of the Taranaki Crossing project on Taranaki Maunga.

The Taranaki Crossing is a partnership between Ngā Iwi o Taranaki, Department of Conservation (DOC) and Kānoa – Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit that has been in place from project feasibility through to delivery.

The blessing was attended by more than 100 guests including iwi representatives, contractors, and staff from central and local government agencies.

The bridge, within Egmont National Park/Te Papakura o Taranaki, has been designed for a lifespan of 100 years, and to withstand the sub-alpine Manganui Gorge’s winds, weather conditions and a one in 250-year Mt Taranaki avalanche.

Supported by two massive masts at either end, the bridge sits 49.5m above the floor of the gorge and features artwork contributed by Ngāti Ruanui.

“This has been a challenging build in an at-times hostile environment – with plenty of reminders of why safety was one of the key drivers for this part of the project,” says DOC’s Hauraki-Waikato-Taranaki Regional Director Tinaka Mearns.

“We knew from the outset this would be an impressive structure once finished, and so we’re delighted an eye-catching and important part of the Taranaki Crossing visitor experience is completed.”

Te Runanga o Ngāti Ruanui Trust Deputy Tumu W’akaae Ngapari Nui says the bridge marked a new era of co-governance for our maunga.

“We have worked alongside DOC from design to construction, including the gifting of taonga. That makes this bridge a destination in itself,” he says.

“The bridge’s stunning visual appearance fits well into the mountain landscape and is a unique part of the cultural interface Ngāti Ruanui brought to this project.

“The bridge will become a key tourist attraction, along with the experience Ngāti Ruanui has crafted, including our world-renowned Mountain House restaurant and accommodation complex,” says Ngapari.

“Taranaki’s regional economic development strategy Tapuae Roa identified the Taranaki Crossing as a priority project. This will attract more visitors, boost local businesses and create jobs and other opportunities,” says Bridget Sullivan, Principal Regional Advisor for Kānoa, the government’s regional economic development and investment unit.

“The original $13.4 million grant from the Provincial Growth Fund has resulted in a lot of other funders coming on board to support the entire Taranaki Crossing project,” she said.

“The grant includes funding for this stunning new bridge which has cost about $1.2 million.”

The bridge will significantly improve access through this part of the mountain environment and improve visitor safety by replacing the existing track which descends through the bottom of the gorge. The existing track is prone to washouts and closure due to avalanche risk.

Taranaki Maunga over a bridge that crosses Manganui Gorge.

Taranaki Maunga has a stunning new bridge. Photo: Wayne Boness, Department of Conservation.