Project introduction

A new two-lane bridge over the Ōpaoa River to improve travel on State Highway 1 north of Blenheim. The historic Opawa Bridge has been retained as a pedestrian and cycle facility.

Latest news

The completion of the Ōpaoa River Bridge project was marked at a dawn ceremony on Saturday 28 November with the blessing and unveiling of a new pou whenua and opening of the new walking and cycling facilities on the historic Opawa Bridge.

The new SH1 bridge opened to northbound traffic in June 2020, and to southbound traffic in July 2020, which allowed work on the bridge tie-ins and the old bridge to take place.


In 2015, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency launched an investigation of bridges on State Highway 1 north of Blenheim. 

The Wairau Bridge was found to be in serviceable condition. It has been certified to carry heavier vehicles and can be effectively maintained. Replacement of this bridge may be considered in the future. The heritage bridge over the Ōpaoa River however, was identified for replacement.

It was confirmed as too narrow for some vehicles, large freight vehicles in particular. We also learned the bridge is vulnerable in an earthquake.


At the heart of our investigation work is our key objective to keep people and goods moving along State Highway 1 between Blenheim and Picton. We want to:

  • make journey times more reliable
  • make sure freight moves efficiently
  • make the region more resilient to natural disasters, and
  • support State Highway 1 as a strategic freight route between Picton and Christchurch

There are two specific benefits that can be achieved by addressing identified problems. They are:

  • Increased throughput of freight and light vehicles and greater journey certainty on State Highway 1 and
  • Greater structural resilience to natural hazard events, that results in increased availability and access.