Deep in the rainforest of the Whanganui National Park is the famous 'Bridge to Nowhere'. This area of the park was once the Mangapurua Farm Settlement, developed by the New Zealand Government after the First World War to encourage soldiers return from the war to take up farming. Initialy people & supplies came by riverboats on the Whanganui River. Men had to clear 20 acres of rainforest (bush) each year & received assistance with fencing & grass seeds. The Government undertook to construct a road from Raetihi, the nearest town. Men cleared the land & the road crept towards the river, but one section kept collapsing in heavy rains, which slowed work. Sheep were eventually farmed but then the Depression of the 1930s struck, & farmers began to walk off the land. The road crept slowly toward the Whanganui River & just one hurdle remained, the Mangapurua River. In 1936 a bridge was constructed, but the road inland had collapsed again. More farmers had left the land & hardly any - maybe just half-a-dozen vehicles ever crossed the Bridge. In 1939 on the outbreak of War, only about three or four farmers remained in the valley. In winter of 1940 was particularly severe & the Government decided not to allocate anymore money to the upkeep of the road & in 1944, they closed the Valley, ordering the last two or three farmers out, giving them land elsewhere. Since then the former farmland has been allowed to regenerate back to native rainforest. Native tree ferns proliferate, but the presence of non-native foxgloves mark former garden & house sites. To day only the 'Bridge to Nowhere' remains.
The Bridge can be reached by a jetboat ride up the Whanganui River from Pipiriki to the Mangapurua Landing, followed by a 40 minute hike along the old road to the bridge. It is a magical, but also a sad spot. It is a place were the hopes & aspirations of traumatised First World War soldiers were shattered by the forces of nature & also by a series of bureaucratic bungles.
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quovadis (877) 2013-01-21 0:15
Hi Neil !
Very interesting and detailed description of the rain forest area. Your shot exactly shows the place intact as it has been left ever since the last settlement. Nice view over the bridge and the deep forest, tfs.
ACL1978 (6103) 2013-01-28 4:17
Beautiful shot, Neil - you do get the sense of a bridge disconnected from civilization here. Fascinating story as well, and a good concise retelling of it all. Thanks!
worldcitizen (4930) 2013-04-19 8:10
This landscape is so lush. From your high POV the bridge and people look so small, like they can almost be swallowed up by all of the greenery around them. I like the burst of color from the foxgloves in the foreground, but beside that, the entire frame is filled with the most wonderful shades of green. Your note is interesting, too.