The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has agreed to a revised Tourism Infrastructure Fund (TIF) application from Round Seven to replace rather than maintain the suspension bridge in the lower Hokitika Gorge.
“In making an application to the Tourism Infrastructure Fund, staff made it very clear that the asset makes a big contribution to the tourism industry in the Westland region,” says Mayor Helen Lash. “We are greatly appreciative that the Ministry understands how important the suspension bridge is to the visitor experience of the Hokitika Gorge. We also appreciate the assistance that will be provided by the Department of Conservation (DOC) to ensure the project is completed successfully.”
A total of $450,000 will be contributed by the Tourism Infrastructure Fund, with Council contributing $50,000 and DOC providing in-kind services for the new bridge.
“The intent of the Tourism Infrastructure Fund is to support councils to address priority visitor related infrastructure particularly in regions of low rate payer base and high visitor numbers” says David Talbot, Manager, Investment Management & Performance at MBIE. “We recognised the importance of the Council working with the Department of Conservation on replacing the suspension bridge when considering the revised application.”
Hokitika Operations Manager Owen Kilgour says DOC’s contribution will be in the form of engineering design, project management and construction monitoring.
“We have a lot of expertise in bridge building from our work on the West Coast and we’re looking forward to using that for this work which is so important for West Coast tourism.”
Safety issues identified through the Present Value End of Life report remain and the current lower Gorge bridge will be closed from 1 October 2023.
However, visitors will still be able to access the iconic views of the Gorge’s stunning water with two walk options available. One will be a 10 minute fully accessible walk to the original viewpoint where many an Instagram photo has been snapped, while the other will be a 90-minute return trip to the viewing platforms. The new DOC suspension bridge further up offers beautiful views of the Gorge and surrounding area from a different perspective than the familiar lower Gorge views.
“We want to emphasise that the Hokitika Gorge and the rest of the Westland district is very much open for business, even while the lower Gorge bridge is closed."
“There are so many wonderful things to see and do throughout Westland that visitors appreciate as much as the Gorge itself. Westland is a vibrant place, and we are ready and willing to welcome everyone.”
The bridge is expected to be completed in time for the 2024/2025 summer season.
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