Stumble across a bizarre bridge in the middle of lush native forest. What's it doing here? Where does it lead?
Located deep in the forest of Whanganui National Park, this concrete road bridge looks ridiculously out of place. There is no road either side, and no signs of construction or civilisation. It is truly the 'Bridge to Nowhere'.
As you can imagine, there is an interesting story behind this bridge.
The remote Mangapurua Valley was opened up in 1919 to provide farms for soldiers returning from World War I. A wooden swing bridge for horses provided access to the valley. After years of agitation from the local community, a more robust concrete road bridge was constructed in 1936. However it was used for only six years. The Mangapurua Valley Soldiers Settlement walked off their land in 1942 after decades of battling hardship caused by the valley's poor soils. The forest grew back, obliterating all signs of habitation except for the bridge.
Today, you can find the Bridge to Nowhere by catching a jet boat from either Pipiriki or Whakahoro. From Mangapurua Landing on the Whanganui River it's an easy 40 minute walk one-way, through beautiful native forest. The bridge offers great views of the steep forest valley and the riverbed below.
This area is part of the Whanganui National Park, and the Bridge to Nowhere is a feature of the popular two-day hike along the Mangapurua Track which starts at Whakahoro.