New Zealand Bridge Collapse Flings Hikers to River Below


Many of us have been there. You’re hiking a remote trail and you get a suspension bridge. “I don’t know if it’s safe,” someone in your party questions. “Sure it’s safe. You go first,” comes the typical reply.

A group of French tourists in New Zealand received a rude awakening when the cable bridge they were on sent them tumbling 25 feet into the river below. Imagine the finale from Indiana Jones and Temple of Doom. 

The bridge roughly 200 feet long flung three out of four of the hikers into the water, while the fourth continued to cling to the cables after they gave-way, according to first person accounts in the travel blog Rolandades. 

“Once the shock of the water sinks in, I gently get to the surface, I note that nothing is broken and look around me, searching for everyone. I see Enzo on the surface – it’s a relief. Then I see Adrien a little further, astonished like all of us.” tourist Effie-Belle writes, in French.

While the bridge collapse occurred in September, these first person accounts and video of the incident recorded by one of the hikers emerged just this this week. Since then it’s been picked up by media across the globe.  

The hikers were crossing the Hopu Ruahine bridge on the Lake Waikaremoana Track, which in another account by the fourth member of the hiking group, Roland, they say is the biggest suspension bridge on the whole walk.

“We’re in the middle. And….CRAAACK! I see Enzo topple over into the river. I hold on! I look behind me. Effie-Belle and Adrien are no longer there.”

“The return route is too long and the bridge is only attached by a single cable. I look 8 metres down in the river. I count: 1, 2 and 3! They are all there! They are all alive! PHEW!”

“I hold on to the remaining cable and haul myself up several metres to the other side.”

The bridge was rated to hold a maximum of 10 people at one time. An investigation into the failure determined that the cables were faulty. Reconstruction of the bridge is ongoing.