Bridge to Nowhere

Imagine a concrete road bridge deep in the dense forest of Whanganui National Park looking ridiculously out of place. There is no road either side. No signs of construction or civilisation. It is truly the “Bridge to Nowhere”.  And there is an interesting story to be told. 

The remote Mangapurua Valley was opened up in 1919 to provide farms for soldiers returning from World War I. At first, a wooden swing bridge for horses provided access to the valley. But a more robust concrete road bridge was built in 1936, after years of agitation from the local community,.

It was only used for six years. The people of Mangapurua Valley Soldiers Settlement walked off their land in 1942 after decades of hardship. The valley’s soils were just too poor. And the forest grew back, obliterating all signs of habitation except for the bridge.

Today, you can find the Bridge to Nowhere by catching a jet boat from either Pipiriki or Whakahoro on the Whanganui River. From Mangapurua Landing it’s an easy 40 minute walk one-way, through beautiful native forest. The bridge offers great views of the steep forest valley and the riverbed below.

This area is part of the Whanganui National Park, and the Bridge to Nowhere is a feature of the popular two-day hike along the Mangapurua Track which starts at Whakahoro.