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Project introduction

The replacement of the current one-lane Kopu Bridge near Thames with a new two-lane bridge.

  • Estimated project dates

    Jul 2009–Feb 2012
  • Estimated project cost

    $20 million to $100 million
  • Project type

    Bridge replacement
  • Project status



To improve travel times and safety along State Highway 25 to and from the Coromandel Peninsula between State Highway 26 (Ngati Maru Highway) and Hauraki Road.


The new bridge will improve safety and cut up to an hour off holiday travel times between Auckland and Thames. It will also boost the region’s economy and tourism by making it a lot easier for freight and holiday makers to access the Coromandel Peninsula.

About the project

The NZ Transport Agency has replaced the Kopu Bridge on State Highway 25, south of Thames. This route is considered strategically important in the National State Highway Network. It is the preferred link between Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula, and carries high volumes of visitor traffic. It is also an essential link for emergency services.

The Kopu Bridge replacement project includes:

  • A new two-lane bridge, 580m long, with a cycle/walkway.
  • 2.5km of new approach roads, including a new link road to SH26 east of the bridge.
  • A new four-leg, two-lane roundabout at the junction of SH25 and SH26.
  • Associated drainage, signage, barriers, roadmarkings, landscaping and other ancillary works.
  • Services relocations including water mains, electricity, sewer pipes and telecommunications
  • The widening of SH26 north of the of the SH25/26 junction to include a flush median and wide left hand shoulder.
  • Cultural design features, including:
    • 10 Pou
    • Waka etching
    • Water etching and design on handrails and concrete barriers
    • Patiki etching
    • Ureia (Taniwha) bridge Pepeha

The 42.8m central span of the new bridge is the main navigational channel for boats. The underside of the central span will be 6.5m above mean sea level, providing sufficient height for large river boats to pass under.

The existing bridge is classified as a Category 1 historic structure by the Historic Places Trust.

The new two-lane Kopu Bridge was officially opened by Prime Minister John Key on Saturday, 10 December. A public bridge walk was held the same day and attracted 8000–10,000 people.

The bridge opened to traffic on Monday 12 December 2011, approximately six months ahead of schedule. Finishing works on other parts of the project continued until early 2012.

Other facts

This project was advanced in February 2009 as part of the government’s $500 million Jobs and Growth Plan. Regular email updates are being produced for this project and can be obtained by filling out the newsletter sign-up box on the project website.


Transit New Zealand, the forerunner to the NZ Transport Agency, first appointed consultants to investigate replacing the existing bridge in 1997. They identified two principal replacement options:

  • Option 1 – a bridge adjacent to the existing structure.
  • Option 2 – a bridge located 700m upstream which would join SH26 at the intersection with SH25A which crosses the Coromandel Range to holiday destinations at Whangamata and Whitianga.

After extensive community consultation, Option 1 was chosen as the preferred option. Option 2 required a bridge that was 250m longer, with significantly higher costs.

Since then, land required for the new bridge has been designated for road development under the Thames Coromandel and Hauraki District Plans and the necessary resource consents have been obtained from the regional council.

About the old Kopu Bridge

The old one-lane bridge, built in 1927–28,remained structurally sound, but did not have the capacity to cope with peak flows during holiday periods without causing significant delays.

Find out more about the future of the Old Kopu Bridge