SH6 Waiho Bailey Bridge is located just south of the Franz Josef township and is a key connection for the West Coast of New Zealand. The Bailey Bridge was first constructed in 1990 and has since been raised and extended three times due to significant aggradation of the river bed.


  • New Zealand


  • New Zealand Transport Agency

Project Value

  • 6.5M

Project Status

  • 26 March 2019 - 13 April 2019


  • NOC Contractor – Fulton Hogan, Bailey Bridge Contractor – Downer, New Zealand Defence Force

The Waiho River crossing is considered one of the hardest river crossings in New Zealand to manage due to the fact that the river bed has aggraded more than 9m over the past 90 years.

The bridge was swept away in one of the most intensive storms in New Zealand history. Its loss was costing the West Coast region between $2 – 3 million per day.

As the Structures Management Consultant for Canterbury and the West Coast, our team of engineers, technicians and bridge inspectors responded immediately to the news of the Bailey Bridge collapse.

Within two weeks our team, along with key contractors and the New Zealand Defence Force, achieved months of investigation, design and construction work.

We ensured that resilience was incorporated within the recovery design, with the northern approach retention and northern pier designed to be significantly more robust; ready for unexpected future events.

Our team's direct involvement included overseeing and coordination of the deconstruction, repair and recovery of the 170m bridge.

Due to the nature of this project, the recovery of the bridge was completed in around half the time of a conventional recovery of this scale. It required numerous innovative solutions to cater to the complex and unique design and construction challenges.

Innovative solutions were used to complete rapid design inputs, including designing with the available materials. The learnings and insights from this exercise have been shared to continue improving how we respond to emergency events in New Zealand.


mm of rainfall over 48 hours
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SH6 Waiho River bridge timelapse
The collaboration and cooperation between the construction teams involved in this project can be held up as an example of engineering excellence, where all involved were focused on delivering the project and restoring access along the West Coast in the shortest possible time-frame, and also on carrying out the work in the safest way possible. I have heard nothing but praise by all stakeholders - including the Franz Josef and wider West Coast community about the professionalism and commitment of teams.
Brett Gliddon GM Systems Design and Delivery, NZ Transport Agency