Ngatea's Replica Bridge
To celebrate the start of the new millennium, the local community has recreated a unique part of their past: a working model of the central span of the original Piako River Bridge (1917 - 1960). The model has been built in the Tilbury Reserve adjacent to the original site. While they sought to make the replica as exact as possible, some new materials (like stainless steel nuts and bolts) had to be used to make it safe. It may be an old-style bridge but it still had to meet modern building regulations!
The replica of the Centre span is 6m long by 1.8m wide, while the tower is 6m high from the deck (approx one half the original size).
The original Piako River Bridge was built at Ngatea and opened in 1917.
In the earliest days in the Hauraki Plains all transport and access to and from the land was by sea, river or canal.
With the gradual development of the first roads it was essential that a crossing be made over the Piako River. The new thoroughfare quickly became the main route between Auckland and Tauranga.
This bridge was a unique design. In contrast to the more commonly used swivel system, the central span of the Piako River Bridge was lifted up when larger boats needed to travel up the river . The tower was a noted landmark which could be seen for miles around and travellers could see at a distance if the central span was open.
As the roads improved, the need for river transport slowed. In 1952 the bridge lifting mechanism was removed and the central span fixed in place. In 1963, after 46 years of service, the bridge was demolished and replaced by the present structure.