Project introduction

State Highway 6 between Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers closed on Tuesday 26 March 2019 after two slips covered the highway and the Waiho River bridge was washed away, triggered by torrential rain. The new Waiho River bridge on SH6 south of Franz Josef opened to all traffic on Saturday 13 April 2019.

Waiho River bridge

The Waiho River bridge on SH6 south of Franz Josef was washed away during the deluge on Tuesday 26 March 2019.

The bridge was a Bailey Bridge that had been installed over the Waiho River in 1990. Due to the unstable nature of the riverbed it has been raised and lifted several times because of the continual build-up of gravel. The Waiho riverbed level fluctuates due to large volumes of sediment being washed down the river from the Franz Josef Glacier.

Transport Agency crews and engineers will be inspecting the piers and abutments as river levels drop, and a replacement Bailey bridge is expected to be in place within 14–17 days. This is an approximate timeline, so please be sure to check the status of the replacement bridge before planning any travel.

Learn more about Bailey bridges and how they’re installed.

For progress made in rebuilding the Waiho River bailey bridge, check out our timelapse videos and image gallery.

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