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Westport Waterfront The Riverbank project
The Riverbank Project is a $2M project, funded by the Provincial Growth Fund. It is revitalising the current industrial area between the Buller River and the town centre.
It forms part of the Westport master plan and features the Toki bridge. The bridge allows people to safely transition from the main street, over the railway lines to a new riverbank space.
This is the first significant step in Westport turning to face the river, the town’s greatest natural asset.
The Toki Poutangata Bridge
The jewel in The Riverbank Project is the Toki Poutangata Bridge. As well as connecting the town centre to the river, it will also provide linkage to the Kawatiri Coastal Trail enabling our community and visitors to enjoy active transport and recreation opportunities in Westport.
A name with a deep meaning
The name chosen for the bridge Toki Poutangata (or Toki for short), describes a ceremonial adze of chiefly authority, and consists of a pounamu blade lashed to an elaborately carved handle. This styling has been carried through into the truss design of the bridge structure, with its distinctive tapered shape and green colour, drawing focus to the Buller River. The concept has support from local iwi Ngāti Waewae. It represents strength, mana, bravery and triumph, all traits and characteristics synonymous with the Buller District.
A local story of craftsmanship and ingenuity
The bridge truss has been fabricated by local manufacturing specialists Rea Engineering, who are only metres down the track from the bridge site.
This has made for a very simple, yet unique transport plan. The entire truss was placed on custom-made rail trolleys and travelled along the tracks from the workshop to the bridge location.
The pounamu-green Toki bridge set new national benchmarks for surface protection. It is the first bridge in New Zealand coated with the next-generation fluoropolymer (polyurethane) paint system, which extends the lifespan of the top-coat colour beyond traditional applications. This minimises the need for periodic touch-ups and re-coats, reducing ongoing maintenance costs. As a result, the Toki bridge will have excellent long-term resistance to paint degradation, looking better for longer.
The Toki bridge was lifted into place, at the November 2021. This was the first full reveal of Westport’s new iconic landmark, safely linking the town centre to the Buller River for the first time in over 40 years.
The installation was followed by bridge certification and completion of the western embankment before the new over-rail link was opened for public use.
The official grand opening of the bridge was held in March 2022.
The bridge design in numbers
The Toki bridge, designed by DC Structures Studio, is a tapering truss measuring 5.8m high at the river-facing end, with an overall width of 3.1m, total length of 38m and a span between bearing supports of 29m.
The full lift weight including decking will be 24 tonnes. The ramp on the town side rises in two flights to a height of 5.4m above ground level, with a linear walk length of 77m at 1:12 grade with rest zones every 9m.
The usable walkway width is 2.5m on the bridge and 2.3m on the ramp, with both using 28mm thick Fibre Reinforced Polymer non-slip decking materials and stainless steel countersunk fixings.
With an additional $300k funding secured from central government’s Tourism Infrastructure Fund, The Riverbank Project will soon link Westport’s town precinct to the Kawatiri Coastal Trail, the floating basin and Kawatiri River Trails.
A new south trail will create a high-quality alternative to the existing Millennium Track from the Kawatiri Coastal Trail carpark into Westport’s town precinct via the new Toki Bridge. This will deliver a safe, enjoyable, and easy to follow route for pedestrians and cyclists along The Esplanade and the Buller River, to complete the link to Carters Beach, Tauranga Bay and beyond.
Also included in the project is work on a north connector route from the Toki Bridge pedestrian plaza up to the Floating Basin, Kawatiri River Trails and ultimately North Beach. This route will follow established footpaths and streets through town with new line marking and signage for improved wayfinding and user safety.
Both trails are integral to Westport’s master plan and our district revitalisation strategy, to position Buller as an attractive place to live, explore and invest.