Four people escaped unharmed after falling eight metres when a cable bridge on a tramping track broke. The four were walking across the 65m-long Hopu Ruahine bridge on the Lake Waikaremoana Track when a cable gave way around 1pm Thursday. The trampers, who were French fell eight metres into about two metres of water, escaping without serious injusry. The bridge did not collapse. A spokesman for the Department of Conservation (DOC) said the bridge was built in 1994, but had regular maintenance checks, much like a warrant of fitness for a car. The bridge had last been checked in June. A senior bridge engineer had been sent to investigate the scene, looking into the failures of the bridge itself and the maintenance process. Tamati Kruger, chairman of the Te Urewera which jointly governed the area with DOC, said the incident was serious, even if nobody was hurt.
“Our first priority has been to ask our response team to ensure the welfare of the visitors. We’ve accommodated them and offered medical checks and counselling,” he said.
The Lake Waikaremoana Track remained open, although the bridge was closed. Signes were in place directing walkers to safer crossing upstream.