Clifden Suspension Bridge

The Clifden Suspension Bridge is a historic suspension bridge near Clifden, New Zealand. Built in 1899, it spans the Waiau River and is 111.5 m long.[1] It is sometimes called the "Iron Bridge."

The bridge looking southwest over the Waiau River.

Designed by the Southland County Engineer C H Howarth, it is a fine example of a solid vehicular suspension bridge, with high standard of civil, mechanical and bridge carpentry design. It still has its historic wooden decking and beams that were made from seasoned core totara wood. It was built during 1898-99 taking about ten months to complete and was opened on 5 April 1899 by Sir Joseph Ward.[2]

The bridge has been accessible to pedestrians only since 1978. In April 2010 the bridge was closed to pedestrian traffic due to safety concerns outlined in a report commissioned by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (now Heritage New Zealand), the organisation that cares for the bridge. The safety issues were identified after a routine inspection of the bridge after an earthquake the previous year.[1] After repairs, the bridge was re-opened to pedestrians in November 2013.[3]

The bridge, constructed of twenty-seven steel cables attached to concrete pillars (clad to resemble stone pillars), still has its historic wooden decking.[4] It is listed as a Category I Historic Place by Heritage New Zealand.[5]

Design is somewhat similar to, but a much smaller version of the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge over the Avon Gorge of the river Avon in Bristol, Britain. Before the bridge was constructed, settlers depended on a ferry to get stock and supplies across the river which was always a challenging feat given the huge volume of gushing water of the river at that time.

There is now another road bridge across the Waiau, to the east of the suspension bridge. The Clifden Suspension Bridge is listed as a Category 1 Historic Place by Heritage New Zealand.


  1. ^ a b "Clifden Suspension Bridge closure". New Zealand Historic Places Trust. Archived from the original on 7 April 2012. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
  2. ^ "Clifden Suspension Bridge". Department of Conservation. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  3. ^ "Clifden Suspension Bridge". IPENZ. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  4. ^ "Clifden Bridge". New Zealand Historic Places Trust. Archived from the original on 9 December 2013.
  5. ^ "Clifden Suspension Bridge". Register of Historic Places. Heritage New Zealand. Retrieved 21 December 2009.

Coordinates: 46°01′48″S 167°42′54″E / 46.030086°S 167.715075°E / -46.030086; 167.715075