Bridge to Nowhere
From 1917, servicemen returning from World War 1 were gifted leases of parcels of land in the heart of the Whanganui Forest around the Mangapurua and Kaiwhakauka valleys. From the outset, life was hard in the isolated valleys and the work to convert the steep hillsides, covered in forest, into farmland, was extremely difficult.
However, the settlers persevered and in 1919 a wooden swing bridge was built over the Mangapurua Stream (superseding a cage crossing on a wire rope) to connect the settlements with the riverboats that brought supplies up the Whanganui River.
As this bridge decayed, plans were drawn up for a new concrete bridge and this was opened in 1936. But by the time it opened the hard life of the settlers had begun to take its toll and they were walking off the land. The authorities of the day refused to fund slip repairs to the road and by 1944, the last farmers had left leaving the farms to be reclaimed by the bush and leaving the bridge over the Mangapurua stream as the now famed Bridge to Nowhere.