Blue Pools Swing Bridge
Image: Shellie Evans | ©

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


DOC is temporarily closing three popular bridges in the Wānaka area for safety reasons.

Date:  26 May 2023

The Blue Pools and Rob Roy bridges require upgrade work to ensure there are measures in place should a key component fail, while the Makarora bridge has reached the end of its operational life.

Department of Conservation Central Otago Operations Manager David Butt says while the closures will be frustrating for people who want to visit these sites, visitor safety is at the heart of the decision.

“These are popular sites that see a high level of visitation, particularly over the summer months. Engineering advice is that they cannot sustain the current usage, and with visitor numbers continuing to increase, we need to make them safer.”

The Blue Pools and Makarora bridges, both on the popular Blue Pools Track, are visited on average by around 550 people a day in January, with around 75 people per hour crossing during peak time. The bridges also provide high water access to the Young Valley and Gillespie Pass Circuit.

Rob Roy Bridge, which is the only access to the Rob Roy glacier track, sees around 180 people per day over summer.

As part of our regular schedule of maintenance, the bridges were flagged in the system for major upgrade and replacements two years ago.

“We’ve taken on board expert advice and made the call to close the bridges while we can complete the necessary work. It’s not that there is a known fault, it’s the unknown, through heavy use and potential wear and tear that might not be visible. We need to err on the side of caution.”

Work on replacements and upgrades for the three structures is underway and planned to be completed during the summer season, David says.

“Winter is typically a quieter time, nevertheless we apologise for any disruption. There are still plenty of other incredible sites around the region to explore.”

Background information

Signage will be present at each location and at the start of each trail to alert people to the closures.

The Makarora and Blue Pools bridges provide high-water access to the Young Valley and Gillespie Pass Circuit. Trampers should have river crossing skills and experience if they are undertaking this advanced tramp. Do not cross if the river is flooded, you cannot find safe entry and exit points or are unsure it’s safe. Turn back or wait for the river to drop. If in doubt, stay out.

There is no access to the Blue Pools, however the forest walk remains open. 


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