The Awatere River Bridge
The 'double decker' single lane Awatere River Bridge was one of only three such bridges in New Zealand. In 1887, New Zealand’s parliament noted that the Awatere river was the last un-bridged large river in the South Island. Prior to the construction of this bridge, there was no direct route to move goods in and out of the three valleys in the Seddon area and further down the South Island. By 1896 planning and construction of this historic bridge had begun.
Built by Scott Brothers Ltd in Christchurch, and completed through much hard-work and physical labour by 1901, the bridge was opened officially on 10th of October 1902 by Sir Joseph Ward (acting Premier and Minister of Railways). The town of Starborough was renamed Seddon at this ceremony, which it is still known as to this day. Half of the township of Blenheim (1500 people) were taken by train to the opening ceremony for the bridge, and it was declared a public holiday for the town.
Today, the bridge has been replaced by a dual lane bridge built by HEB construction and opened in 2007. The old river bridge remains however, and still serves as the train-track link to the rest of the south island.
There is a viewing platform and info-graphics near the old bridge, which makes for an interesting stop on your way north from Seddon. It is also a great photo opportunity to capture the ingenuity and labour of the men who built this bridge. Testament to their talent that it still stands, functional over one hundred years later.