The 100m-long suspension bridge will be part of the Taranaki Crossing project, which will see 25km of tracks improved, creating a mix of short walks and longer tramps.

The suspension bridge will be built over the Manganui Gorge

The project is designed to minimise the impact of visitors on the environment, said the Department of Conservation (DOC).

The tender process is now under way for construction of the bridge, which will be funded through a US$8.5 million investment made by the government’s Provincial Growth Fund into the Taranaki Crossing project.

The project has ongoing support from Kanoa - Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit.

Operations manager Gareth Hopkins said: “We have a design confirmed, incorporating a 1.2m-wide deck and towers up to 22m high. It’s an eye-catching design, the bridge designer has been working on an elegant yet strong design that sits slightly hidden up the Manganui Gorge.”

The bridge will be built with additional main cables that allow cables to be replaced and maintained without needing major closures and provide additional safety to users, said the DOC. The decking will be a fibre-reinforced plastic allowing quick drainage and a secure grip for users. Safety and ease of construction and extensive modelling of wind and avalanche conditions have all been factored into the bridge design.

The bridge is designed to improve access through this part of the mountain environment and make it easier and safer for people to make a short hike to the Manganui Lodge and ski area. The bridge will replace a short section of track that has required visitors to descend to the bottom of a gorge. The existing track through the gorge has been prone to washouts and closure due to avalanches.

The successful contractor will be supplied with some of the construction materials - the main cables and bridge decking - to allow for the long lead times for these materials.

Evaluation of tenders will focus on a range of aspects, including regional benefit, track record of construction projects and methodology.

The tender process is expected to be concluded in January.